Cert: U Runtime: 126 mins Director: Martin Scorsese Starring: Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Jude Law, Ray Winstone, Sacha Baron Cohen, Christopher Lee and Ben Kingsley
This might be an adventure, and I’ve never had one before – outside of books, at least
Martin Scorsese directing a film certified U? Has the world gone mad? Hugo leads the Oscars with 11 nominations this weekend, but can it beat the hot favourite The Artist? I didn’t get the chance to watch Hugo during the holidays, but it’s been ticked off my list now.The film is set in Paris in the 1930’s, in a railway station where an orphan boy named Hugo (Asa Butterfield) lives in the workspaces in the station walls and in the station’s central clock-tower. He spends most of his time keeping the station’s clocks running (so that no one will come into the walls or the tower and discover his hiding places) and pursuing his obsession – fixing a man-shaped automaton designed to write with a pen which his father (Jude Law) had found in a museum and was trying to repair when he was killed in a fire. To feed himself, Hugo scrounges and pilfers food from the various food shops in the station, which draws the attention of the station inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen). To feed his efforts to repair the automaton, Hugo steals parts from a toy shop in the station, run by the elderly Papa Georges (Ben Kingsley), who finally catches him in the act. He is befriended though by Papa Georges’ god- daughter, a girl his age named Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), who ends up helping Hugo pursue his obsession of fixing the automaton. Which, Hugo is convinced, has some secret message for him left by his late father. Where this ultimately leads… you’ll have to see the film.
Hugo is known as Martin Scorsese’s first film that is suitable for all ages. In the trailers and movie posters, some may think it’s just another Family/Adventure film. But it’s more than that. Hugo is Scorsese’s love letter to movies. Bringing back the classic style and showing why movies are magnificently wonderful. It’s an extraordinary Scorsese film. The performances are charming and there are plenty of sweetness in them. Everything else is spectacular. Hugo is a reminder why we watch and love movies.Nobody would have ever imagined that Martin Scorsese generally known for making rather intense cinema classics such as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Goodfellas would ever make a family film (let alone one in 3D). I’ll admit that at first I wasn’t excited about seeing it yet I eventually decided to and it did not disappoint. It is a visual masterpiece as well a fairy tale of warmth and whimsy. It comes across as something fresh if not visionary.It is adapted from an award-winning novel by Brian Selznick called “The Invention of Hugo Cabret.” The story owes a lot to Charles Dickens but it becomes a loving tribute to the earliest days of movies. It’s Scorsese showing us how important old films (and its artists) are to future generations as he himself is something of a film historian as well as a longtime advocate for film preservation. Anyone who is a film buff or has any knowledge of film history should appreciate this. It’s narrative is beautifully crafted, I appreciated the surprising direction the story took and how everything nicely fell into place at the end. It is a touching film as well as an educational one.
The cast is also good. Asa Butterfield and Chloe Moretz do a fine job of carrying the movie. However, the adult cast members are the ones who really stand out. Sacha Baron Cohen is wonderful as the inept station inspector but it is Ben Kingsley that gives the best performance as a toy maker with a secret past. It was also nice to see Jude Law and Christopher Lee in the small roles they had.However, the best thing about this film is in its visuals. The atmosphere of the movie is truly magnificent staying with you long after it is over. The photography is brilliant playing a large part for the film’s dreamlike look and feel. The production design is exquisite, creating the 30’s Paris world that Hugo lives in. Also, it makes great use of special effects considering that it is not a sci-fi or fantasy film. This film was made knowing it was going to be in 3D. Scorsese proves that 3D can be used artistically rather than for its own sake. Although I’m not someone who is crazy about the current 3D revolution with today’s movies, this film was an exception.Only time will tell where this movie stands in Scorsese’s body of work yet it is definitely the finest movie he’s made in recent years. It does deserve all the critical praise and award nominations it has received despite poor box office numbers. It has been advertised as a children’s adventure film but it’s rather a wonderful story, stunningly told. Whether it is because of the plot or the visuals (or both), this movie undeniably creates movie magic and leaving one satisfied when its over. It is best seen on a big screen in 3D as this is the kind of film that is not just to be watched but experienced. 8.7/10