FILM: Hugo Review (****)

Posted: November 24, 2011 in Film, Reviews
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I don’t remember the first movie I ever saw in the theaters, but I do remember being amazed. From the surround sound to the 50-foot screen, I was enamored, enraptured by the sights and sounds of it all. Forget the popcorn and the candy, just make sure I have the best seat in the house. And that’s the type of experience Martin Scorsese hopes to bring back to the theaters with his family-friendly adventure drama Hugo.

Based on Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the story follows an orphaned boy named Hugo living in the walls of a Paris railway station. His only friend appears to be a broken robot left behind by his father. But when he meets an unpleasant toy-maker and his goddaughter, more than Hugo’s secrets are revealed. There’s a lot of “What?” and “How?” and “Huh?” but trust me Scorsese to navigate you through a magical adventure (whether you’re a kid or an adult).

From the beautiful, continuous one-shot takes inside the station’s walls to the recognizable music of Howard Shore, Scorsese’s fingerprints are noticeable to the naked eye. But he adds a few more ingredients to the pot, most noticeably the use of 3-D. Unlike several other money-grubbing films who use 3-D as their only viable marketing tactic (Resident Evils, Saws, Final Destinations), there actually is a purpose to the technology here. Like the film’s extras who are pleasantly shocked by a a scene where a train rushes towards them, we are right there with them because the train is popping out of the screen, actually rushing towards us.

All that being said, the story is what makes Hugo sing. Selznick’s imagination coupled with Scorsese’s masterful execution ultimately causes us to be swept up and surprised at every turn. Like a kid on a roller coaster (or I guess at the movie theaters), we are exuberantly taken away into what can happen next and what will happen last and can I watch it again so I see what happens first. Like I said, I don’t remember the first movie I ever saw in the theaters, but I remember the last one. And in both cases, I was left amazed.


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