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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hugo - Movie Review


If someone had told you that Martin Scorsese had just made a 3D movie starring a couple of kids, you might look at them with a fair amount of confusion. The statement is actually true, although this film is so much more than one might expect and yet the unexpected is what you should hope to find in a film like this.


Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is an orphan that lives within the walls of a Paris train station during the 1930's. The only thing he owns is an automaton that his father had found and brought home for them to repair. Having a natural talent for fixing things, the pair nearly had the metallic 'boy' working when tragedy struck and Hugo's father was killed in a fire.


Stealing only what he needs to survive, avoiding capture by the Station Inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen), and repaying the station shop keepers by winding the tower clocks and keeping them all in good working order is as much of a life as Hugo has lived. The title of clock manager had originally been held by his Uncle Claude but the man disappeared suddenly one day leaving Hugo on his own.


One day, a chance encounter with an elderly shop keeper in the station sets Hugo on a path that will change his and many other lives forever. Joined on this adventure by his new found friend Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz), they come to realize they are connected in a most unexpected way and there are things and even people around them that turn out to be much more than they ever imagined.


If I was to describe this movie with one word, that word would be 'beautiful'. Of course, there will be more words used here, but that is the first thing that comes to mind when I think back on how visually striking (the 3D is perfect, by the way), entertainingly written, and brilliantly acted this movie really is.

Mr. Scorsese, with this new film, has crafted a love letter to the origins of the film industry and most important in this homage is actor, writer, producer, and director Georges Méliès. Sometimes referred to as a 'Cinemagician' for the way he created and invented new ways to film during the early days of the industry, he is most famous for creating the all time classic 'A Trip to the Moon' in 1902, which is to this day considered an inspiration to film makers and loved the world over.


There are several minor story lines that are touched on just enough during the movie to inform you of the supporting characters without intruding on the main story. My favorite of these was the budding romance between Emily Mortimer's Lisette and Sacha Baron Cohen's Station Inspector. Veteran actors like Ben Kingsley, Ray Winstone, Christopher Lee, and Jude Law all give very heartfelt performances that contrast nicely, and I'm sure intentionally, with the wide eyed wonder of the younger stars.


Hugo is an important film for many reasons and any fan of movies will appreciate it on some level whether it be the historical teachings of one of this generation's finest directors or the fun and care free way that Hugo and Isabelle run head first in to their adventures. Now, when I tell you to go see the 3D movie made by Martin Scorsese and starring a couple of kids, I would hope that you understand how wonderful of a thing this can be.


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