Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hugo 3D Review

Director Martin Scorsese's Hugo starts out with virtuoso 3-D camera shots of a Paris train station as it follows a young boy named Hugo Cabret. (Asa Butterfield) We see Hugo watch life in the station from within the giant clocks. And the thing that overwhelms you is the majesty of the 3-D. (3D) You feel as if you can touch the gears on the clocks. Scorsese avoids much of the throwing stuff at you cliches of 3-D cinema but he does not disdain the medium. In fact, he embraces it. Yes, you get the occasional thing thrown at you. But it's as if he set every shot with the realization that he's making a 3D film CGI snow, statues, trains, shoes, gears all pop. You don't forget that you're watching a 3-D film. And this movie is the best 3-D film ever made. All of this is owed to Scorsese's prodigious talent and his wise decision to film in 3-D. This is one movie I recommend you pay the extra bucks to see in 3-D.

Hugo takes place in the early thirties. The place is Paris, France. Hugo (Asa Butterfield) is a young orphan boy who lives in a train station. He has a skill in fixing mechanical things, a skill he got from his father. (Jude Law) Through flashbacks we learn that Hugo's father left him an automaton, a kind of gear driven robot. Unfortunately, his father cannot get the automaton to work. When the father dies, Hugo is taken to the train station by his uncle Claude (Ray Winstone) where he helps to take of the clocks. When Claude disappears, Hugo is left all alone.

Hugo's existence depends upon him stealing food from the shops in the station. He must hide from the local cop, (Sacha Baron Cohen) who likes to round up any orphan and ship them off to the orphanage. His entertainment is to watch life of the patrons from the clocks. But Hugo's goal is to get the automaton to work.

One day, Hugo tries to steal a toy from a small toy shop. He's caught by the owner, Georges. (Ben Kingsley) When the owner takes a book containing sketches of the automaton from Hugo, he follows him home. There he entices the owner's granddaughter, Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz) to help him recover the book. She indicates that she wants to help but also looks upon Hugo as her guide to adventure.

The performances are pitch perfect. Asa Butterfield is wonderful as Hugo, a boy searching for his meaning in life. Jude Law's performance as the loving father makes you cry when he dies. Sacha Baron Cohen is a bit cartoonish as buffonish cop but so what? I laughed at his comedy. Film legend Christopher Lee plays a kind librarian. Helen McCrory (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) is the dedicated and loyal wife of Georges. Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick Ass?!) radiates light as the charming Isabelle. And what can I say about Ben Kingsley. He shows all the ranges for Georges. Broken. Hurt. Joyful.

Accompanying this film is the beautiful score by Howard Shore. It definitely transports you to Paris. It's lush and Impressionistic. And check out the Django Reinhardt jazz band playing in the cafe.

John Logan (Gladiator; Star Trek: Nemesis) based his screenplay on the book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. Logan's work here is poetic. And director Martin Scorsese take that poetry and translates it to the screen. Scenes are more like paintings the way Stanley Kubrick did in 2001: A Space Odyssey. (1968) I don't know which sets are real or CGI but Scorsese's Paris made me fall in love with the city.

It's no secret that the character of legendary filmmaker Georges Méliès, makes an appearance in the movie. The film covers his pioneer work in making movies about fantastic places, and creatures. Yes, I consider some of it to be science fiction. We learn in the movie that Méliès was a magician before he became a filmmaker.

And it's the concept of storytelling is magic that Logan and Scorsese are conveying. You see Hugo is not just valentine to filmmaking. Part of it is. I watched in wonderment as Méliès made his movies even if by today's standards the worlds he created primitive. But in Hugo we also learn of Isabelle and Hugo's love of books. It's this unique human ability to transport one to another world with a story that is the magic. And that's what Hugo celebrates.

Hugo is a family movie. But it's more than that. It's a movie that adults will also enjoy. Martin Scorsese has created a classic. You owe it to yourself to see this film in 3-D. The grade is A +.

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