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Hugo (2011) Review

19 12 2011

Copyright 2011 Paramount Pictures

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

It was a bit perplexing at first, hearing that acclaimed director Martin Scorsese’s new movie would be a children’s fantasy tale in 3-D; however, in the end, I was pleasantly surprised and delighted by the visual and storytelling experience.

The film is based off the part novel, part graphic novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick.  Young Hugo (Asa Butterfield) lives in the Montparnasse station winding the clocks after the death of his father and desertion of his uncle, the true clock winder for the station.  His father (Jude Law), who was also a clockmaker and mechanical expert, left Hugo an Automaton, a mechanical man that can be wound up and draw pictures or write poems that are pre-programmed in the mechanics, he found at the museum in which he worked.  Prior to his death, he and Hugo were working on fixing the automaton.  Determined to complete the project, Hugo scrounges parts here and there around the station to finish his project; some parts are taken from toy maker and shop owner, George (Ben Kingsley).  Upon getting caught stealing, he develops a sort of relationship with George, but much more so one with George’s granddaughter Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz).  The two young children’s adventures together lead them to finding out more and more about George and, eventually, opening up a chapter in his life that he had long put aside.

Without giving too much away about the film, in short, it is a movie about the magic of the movies, the love of illusion, and most of all, the imagination of childlike wonder.  Scorsese, at nearly 70 years old, has beautifully captured the look and feel of what it was like to be a child, and in doing so, created a wonderfully satisfying piece of filmmaking.  Furthermore, if you opt to see the film in 3-D, I would hasten to say that the three dimensional effects in this film are some of the best I have ever seen.  Rather than using the element of 3-D filmmaking to just throw stuff off the screen at the audience, Scorsese uses the medium to full effect in creating an environment that wholly works for the film itself.

Performances by all the lead actors and supporting cast of Sacha Baron Cohen, Richard Griffiths, Jude Law, Christopher Lee, and others are excellent.  The cinematography, set design, editing, script, every part of this film comes together beautifully to create a lasting and timeless piece of filmmaking in my opinion.  It’s films like this that make me see that there is still hope in the world of cinema.

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