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“Hugo” – Early Review (POSITIVE)

November 22, 2011

From the opening shot of “Hugo” I knew I was in for something special. Martin Scorsese is back, this time bringing us his first family-friendly film. “Hugo” is full of magic, love, heart, spirit, and great youthful adventure. Based on the book by Brian Selznick, the adaptation of a film lovers guide to the old days of cinema is truly a gift for the holiday season. A strong cast, wonderful script by John Logan, triumphant direction by Scorsese, and fantastic 3D visuals, brings “Hugo”as a treat for the ages.

The film tells the story of a young orphan child, Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield), who resides in the crevices of an old Paris train station. Hugo is a clock fixer, like his father (Jude Law) before him. One day, Hugo comes into contact with a train station kiosk toymaker (Ben Kingsly), who turns out to be the famous silent filmmaker Georges Méliès. Méliès doesn’t want to remember his past as a prominent filmmaker, because of certain elements of history that interfered with his dreams. Hugo teams up with Méliès’ goddaughter, Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), the two journey on an adventure of discovery; about magic, dreams, and of course, the movies.

I think the one major thing people will take away from “Hugo” is it’s undying tribute to the classic art of silent filmmaking. Snippets of a Harold Lloyd movie are shown in one scene when Hugo takes Isabelle to the movies for her first time. Kids in the theater were eating it all up. I over heard after the movie child-like exclaims that sounded like, ‘Mommy, I didn’t know there were silent movies!’ ‘Can we watch those movies?’ “Hugo” will be sure to introduce a new generation to an art form that is over 100 years old and perhaps dare I say inspire. There’s no doubt in my mind that kids will be racing to YouTube in search of Méliès “A Trip to the Moon”, as that film plays an important role in the movie.

Asa Butterfield in the title role is outstanding. I recently saw him in “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”, and I knew from there this kid has a rare talent of honest youth in his performances. He was beyond marvelous in this movie, and I think Scorsese found his new DiCaprio/DeNiro (LOL). Chloë Grace Moretz is becoming one of those young actresses to look out for; every role she chooses seems to surprise the hell out audiences, she was no exception here, although no matter what movie she does, she will forever be synonymous to Hit-Girl. Supporting players such as Ben Kingsly, Sacha Baron Cohen, Michael Stuhlbarg, Helen McCroy, Emily Mortimer and Christopher Lee are all fantastic in their respective roles. I wouldn’t at all be surprise to see either Kingsly or Cohen earning Supporting Act nods at any award show this season.

I’ll admit it I was hesitant when I read that Martin Scorsese was doing a 3D movie. I didn’t want one of my favorite directors fall into that trap, that bandwagon if you will. But, researching into it, Scorsese said that if he were going to do a 3D movie, it would be shot on 3D cameras. In come RED’s Epic cameras, the same cameras being used to shoot next years “The Hobbit” & “The Amazing Spider-Man”. “Hugo” is our preview to what these cameras are capable of. As a person who’s not a fan of the 3D fad, I was impressed by the dimensions in the 3D this movie gave off. There’s a funny moment in the movie where Méliès said that people thought movies were just a fad that would fade away and be nothing more, but turns out to be a tool to bring our dreams to life. Foreshadowing today’s 3D much?

Kids will love, adults will love, and cinema lovers will REALLY love. “Hugo” is something that shouldn’t be missed this holiday season. I’m proud that Scorsese found a perfect balance of old school filmmaking styles, like Claymation animation & model miniature effects, with the new wave of filmmaking. It’s a true testament to the art of filmmaking, something that I hold close to my heart.


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