Monday, December 05, 2011
I went into this film knowing nothing about the story, only that it was directed by Martin Scorsese and filmed in 3-D. What an amazing film it turned out to be. Mr. Scorsese has made the best 3-D film, since "Avatar". His love of his craft requires no less than a medium used to perfection to illustrate his story.
We learn early on that Hugo, played by Asa Butterfield, is an orphan living in the Paris train station some time after World War One. The station is populated with many colorful characters that are touched by Hugo in various ways. One in particular is Georges, played by Sir Ben Kingsley, an old man who runs a toy shop in the station and carries a heavy secret. When Hugo discovers that secret, what begins as the adventures of a young boy fascinated with all things mechanical, slowly transforms into a love letter to the art of film.
The wondrous set of the train station itself becomes a character in the story, heightened by the inspired use of the latest 3-D technology. The sharp colors and details enhance every scene. The supporting cast includes Chloe Grace Moretz, Sacha Baron Cohen, Christopher Lee, Jude Law, Michael Studbarg and Emily Mortimer. Mr. Scorsese brings out the best in his entire ensemble but it is Mr. Kingsley and young Mr. Butterfield who truly shine.
While marketed as a family film, "Hugo" contains some scenes that may be too intense for young viewers and while charming and magical, the eventual revelations of the film may be too "adult" as well. Having said that, "Hugo" is still a wonderful achievement that expresses so well, why cinema matters.