Review :: Big Screen – Hugo

January 17th 2012


I've spent a lot of time discouraging people don’t see junk like 'Immortals' in 3D, because the gimmick is designed only to rob you of three dollars, give you a headache and make bad films worse. It's not that I am against the technology; I just think it needs regulation. To be more specific, you should only be allowed to use it if you are a generally considered a genius. In the wrong hands it's dangerous. That said, there have been some shining examples of 3D done well: Spielberg had a ball with it in Tintin (even if I wasn’t a fan of the film), Herzog used it to great effect in Cave of Forgotten Dreams, and now, at the ripe old age of 70 Martin Scorsese has topped them all with Hugo, a wonderful film shot in stunningly immersive 3D.

This is his first film that you could in good conscience take young kids to, and not have them bored stiff or traumatised for life. It’s based on Brian Selznick’s novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret (why they truncated the film title is a mystery to me). Hugo is an orphan, living in the walls of a Parisian train station early last century, and driven by a compulsive desire to maintain and mend things stemming from the fact that he is himself broken. He is hunted by the dastardly inspector, played by Sacha Baron Cohen, and taken in by Ben Kingsley’s mysterious Papa George, the guardian of Chloe Grace Moretz's Isabelle.

I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this movie. Every part of it is immaculate, from the wonderful vision of Paris, to Howard Shore's beautiful score, the great performances, particularly from Asa Butterfield in the title role, and the clever script from John Logan. Above all else, Scorsese is having a crazy fun with cinema itself, and his love of the artform bursts out from the screen. Try and avoid learning too much about Papa George, because I think too many reviews are giving too much away. While my plot description covers the first two acts of the film, the third dives into the origins of cinema itself and becomes, of all things, an ode to film preservation. It’s dark and scary and funny and poignant and beautiful. Scorsese has directed Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Departed, Goodfellas and Casino, but I think Hugo is my favorite Scorsese film.

Hugo is in cinemas now. 


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