“Hugo” is gorgeous, beautiful, and wonderful. Martin Scorsese, our beloved king of stylistic violence ala “Goodfellas”, “Casino”, and “The Departed” has somehow made the transition to fantasy/family film without losing any of his grace.
The movie follows the story of a kid in old time Paris, orphaned, who lives in a train station running the clocks. As an orphan, he steals a lot of things, and gets on the wrong side of a toy shop owner played by Ben Kinglsey. And then a mystery unravels, which I will not reveal.
What’s amazing is that this looks like a Speilberg movie. You’ve got cute little romantic side stories, slapstick, moments of humor.. nothing like Scorsese has ever done before. It’s also a great example of how any filmmaker can re-invent themselves when they put their mind to it.
There are many elements that reveal this is still Scorsese’s movie, particularly the moving shots. The movie is shot in 3D and it is elevated to a new kind of art form. Unlike “Fright Night” (apologies, that’s the last 3D movie I saw), the movie actually makes use of the 3D elements to add color and depth to the characters. You literally do feel like you are being sucked into the screen.
The child actors are excellent, and I didn’t even realize that was Borat (Sasha Baron Cohen) playing the Station agent.
What’s interesting, too, is that while the story is clearly family oriented, there is a definite sense of risk. You don’t feel like you do at a Spielberg movie where you know everything will turn out alright and be warm and fuzzy, you really think it could all go to crap. That’s the classic Scorsese peeking through there.
But most of all, notice how you are moved by the movie. It is almost impossible not to have some kind of emotion watching this thing, especially towards the end. And without revealing anything in this post, let me just say that this movie alone will give you more of a film history lesson than most film schools in under 2 hours.
“Hugo” is based on a popular book, so it definitely had the writing going for it. But as you watch see if you can pinpoint where the “magic” comes from. You could learn a ton from simply going to see this movie a couple of times, then renting the DVD when it comes out and listening to the commentary.