Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hugo (3D)

A World of Wonder

Director: Martin Scorsese
Writers: Brian Selznick, John Logan
Cast: Sir Ben Kingley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer, Christopher Lee, Helen McCrory

SYNOPSIS: A young orphaned boy living in the Paris train station looks to keep the memory of his father alive by fixing a mechanical automaton, but finds more adventure than he bargains for.

REVIEW: Martin Scorsese, the director of Taxi Driver and The Gangs of New York, returns to the directing reigns in the period piece Hugo, set in Paris in the 1930. Based on the Brian Selznick book "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" and the adapted screenplay by John Logan (The Last Samurai, Rango), Hugo is larger than the gears that keep the Paris train Station clocks running.

Young orphaned Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas) steals bread, milk and gears to survive and try to keep the memory of his father (Jude Law, Sherlock Holmes) alive. The son of a clock maker and a museum curator, Hugo helped his dad try to repair a mechanical automaton left abandoned at the museum. A fiery accident leaves Hugo an orphan in the care of his uncle (Ray Winstone) forced to help the old drunkard keep the Paris train station clock in accurate working order. Once his uncle disappears, Hugo keeps the clocks in working order, left to stealing to survive and to continue repairs on the automaton. All the while, Hugo keeps tabs on what the patrons and shop owners in the station are up to, ever watchful to avoid the orphan-catching station inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat) and his faithful guard dog Maximilian. Enter toyshop owner Georges Méliès (Sir Ben Kingsley, Shutter Island) who catches Hugo stealing from his shop and takes from Hugo a notebook that belongs to Hugo's father, but holds some strange emotional familiarity to Mister Melies. When Hugo pleads for Mister Méliès' goddaughter Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz, Let Me In) to keep the notebook from being destroyed, the two soon strike up a friendship that leads to adventure and unraveling mysteries.

The acting is filled with emotion and brilliance. Sir Ben Kingsley is both hopeful and hopeless, his eyes giving away his hidden grief and determination to forget the pains of the past. Sacha Baron Cohen sheds his past with a role that is comical, whimsical, and broken-hearted. The young leads, Asa Butterfield and Chloë Grace Moretz, both show that they are currently and will continue to grow into a fine actor and actress. Asa's bright blue eyes and emotional expressions are perfectly balanced with Chloë's confidence and crooked smiles. If ever a better pair was prepared for adventure, I cannot come up with quick names to offer. Helen McCrory (The Queen), as George’s wife, stands by her man for what he has lost while relishing once she and they once had.

Beautifully captured, Scorsese grounds the film in a surreal and artistic backdrop. Almost like a painting at times, Hugo's cinematography is a feast to the eyes. When the camera flies through the station, whether the caverns of the train platforms, the cavernous beauty of the sculpted central station, the steamy corridors of the forgotten passages behind the station walls, or the tick-tock symphony of the whirling gears of the clock towers houses, Scorsese provides a character that is both stationary and filled with life. Even the seemingly insignificant comings and goings of rail riders adds to the richness of the story.

Although a large part of the story, Hugo is more than just the quest to of a young boy bring a complex mechanical toy to life. The film recurs themes of romance. Throughout the film characters try to connect with others from across the large central train station. With Hugo and Isabelle’s adventure to unravel the mystery they find themselves in, they come across beautiful romantic notions about the advent of film from the early days of motion pictures, ticking lights and motion on a screen that captured the imagination and allowed dream of places never been.

Scorsese becomes somewhat self-indulgent in the history and genesis of film, but he has a right to do so. Only a person with a passion for what film began as and what films should continue to be need apply for the job. Scorsese creates a wonderful and nearly magical 3D experience, pushing steam from pipes, the illumination from movie projecters, and the snout of a curious Doberman right in front of our faces. Hugo is filled with sights and sounds that secretly and unknowingly put a smile on the face and a spark in the heart. True cinematic fans will appreciate what Hugo offers in all its forms.

WORTH: Matinee and DVD

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