I know I’m a little bit late with a review for this (not that anyone cares) but I’ve only had a chance to see it now (what with the madness of the run-up to Christmas) and it’s such a beautiful gem of a film that I just had to mention it…

Set in the 1930s in Paris, it is about a boy, called Hugo – an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station. He keeps the station clocks running without anyone knowing and spends his spare time looking for parts to fix an automaton his father (Jude Law in a small role – thankfully) left him. Hugo’s adventure starts when he meets Isabelle, a girl whose Godfather owns the station toy shop and whose only experience with anything exciting comes from the books she has read. They both set out to fix the automaton which Hugo believes holds a secret message from his father. But why is Isabelle’s Godfather so eager to stop them? And exactly what secrets does this strange machine hold?

This Martin Scorsese film doesn’t feel like his usual work, which is one of the reasons I didn’t really want to see it at first. But like some of his other work this is a truly great film. It is fun and frantic and absolutely beautiful to look at. And the 3D? Scorsese is definitely one of the directors who seems to have mastered it (along with James Cameron) – every little speck of dust is highlighted and each scene is set out to show the full impact of the 3D. But is it really needed? Again, as is the case with most 3D films, not really. It does make the film more fun and magical, but I could see it being just as great as a 2D film. Although it is a nice touch of Scorsese’s to use a brand new medium to celebrate the techniques of old, silent cinema…

One of the best things about the film though is the children. Chloë Grace Moretz is brilliant as the brainy and feisty Isabelle (and her British accent is pretty amazing). But it is Asa Butterfield who is the real star: he is so convincing and nearly breaks your heart in certain scenes.

The adult cast are also excellent, Sacha Baron Cohen being a particular highlight and getting most of the laughs as a bumbling station inspector. Ben Kingsley as Isabelle’s Godfather is also great, but to say much more about him would ruin the film for you…

Although it is flawed in places (at certain times the film seems to lag in pace) it is still a brilliant ode to cinema and to a medium that has nearly died out. Hugo is a film that makes you, like Scorsese, fall in love with a bygone age of film through the use of a completely new medium. It seems as though Scorsese is trying to show us that both mediums can still exist together and that both have elements of beauty to offer us. And it’s a film that you should definitely try to catch on the big screen while you still can…


~ by square-eyed-geek on December 23, 2011.

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