I almost passed on seeing ‘Hugo’. Orphan boy lives in a train station in Paris. It sounded like another Hallmark feel good that they release at this time of he year. It also seemed like it could be one of those kids films, sprinkled with adult humour to keep the parents entertained. And seeing as I’m not a parent, why would I subject myself to such trickery? To add to this, the film is over two hours long.
But two words drew me in. “Scorsese” and “Depp”. The men attached to theses words should be Hollywood royalty. King Martin and Prince Johnny. And they should get to decide which films get made, and which should never see the light of a studio.
These monarchs have earned their titles with ‘Hugo’.
So the storyline is a bit more complex than orphan boy in Paris. Based on Brian Selznick novel-come-graphic-novel-come-picture-book ‘The Invention of Hugo Cabret’, ‘Hugo’, set in 1931, is the story of 12-year-old Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield), who lives between the walls of a train station. First his mother dies and then his father (Jude Law) is killed in a fire, which means Hugo is taken in by his alcoholic uncle who teaches him to care for the train station’s clocks; then disappears. Hugo continues to maintain the clocks while working on a broken automaton, a mechanical man, he and his father were repairing before his death. He does this by stealing parts from a toy store owner (Ben Kingsley), who finally catches him and finds the automaton blueprints. He confiscates them and threatens to burn them, but Hugo convinces Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), the toy store owners goddaughter to stop him. They develop a friendship and Hugo takes her to see her first ever motion picture. Somehow this develops into a story about the history of film, and one of the early filmmakers, Georges Méliès, but I don’t want to give too much away, because in Scorsese style, you probably won’t figure out the storyline in the first five minutes.
‘Hugo’ is enchanting, beautiful, captivating, funny and other words that haven’t been invented yet. One notable role is that of Sacha Baron Cohen role as the station inspector. Absolutely genius.
I have finally come across a film (other than Avitar) that uses 3D the way it was intended. Not just some gimmick to draw the kids in and give you bloodshot eyes, but to take you to an enthralling fantasy world that comes alive. It has also managed to find a mystical place, where a film can be as equally entertaining to a 9 year old as it can be to a 90 year old, and all the ages in between.
The one tiny ‘bad’ thing I could say about ‘Hugo’ is it’s length. It’s a tad long and when you have a kid kicking your chair the whole way through, you almost want it to finish so you can give the kid a dirty look. But it’s definitely worth enduring.
I feel humbled that I even get to review this masterpiece. It is one of the best films that I have seen in a long time. The film-nerd in me was geeking out over the history, the child inside me was enchanted with the scenery. I was thoroughly entertained for all 127 minutes and left wondering how I could ever do this review justice.
Reviewed by: Nerice Collins