Hugo in 3D (Martin Scorsese) 2011

Young Hugo (Asa Butterfield) is an orphan who takes care of the clocks inside a train station in 1930’s Paris.  During his free time, he tries to fix an old automaton which his father was trying to fix up before he died.  He is caught trying to steal parts from the local toy merchant (Ben Kingsley) who later takes Hugo on as an apprentice.  Hugo and the merchants daughter Isabelle (Chloe Moretz) later become friends and try to both fix the automaton and work out the mystery behind the toy merchant’s past.

This movie is most likely going to end up on my bomb category since it cost about $170 million dollars to make and opened at #5 at the box office it’s first weekend.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I only heard about this movie being released a week before it opened.  That is a bit odd considering Scorsese’s name and all that.  Maybe the problem is it is being released in the overly congested holiday season.  Maybe people don’t think Scorsese had it in him to change genre’s into childrens films (which is ludicrous if you see the numerous genres Scorsese has dabbled in over the years).  The only thing I do know is that it is a shame because Hugo is a great movie.

For one, this is one of the few movies I can say is worth seeing in 3D.  I am not someone who outright rejects 3D but like with anything in a movie, it is only as good as the effort put into it.  Overall I liked Avatar and one of the reasons is because Cameron went all out in making the movie such a beutiful spectacle.  You don’t even have to go that far.  Even movies like Drive Angry 3D put thought into making the 3D an enjoyable addition to the film.  In the case of Hugo, Scorsese shows his talent in making a setting that utilizes the full use of 3D.  It’s not things being thrust in your face, but we see the full depth of the setting surrounding the characters.  Hugo is crawling through these giant clockwork parts and moving through this large station and the movie feels so alive and always active.  It is all so colorful and active that you are enjoying seeing Scorsese play around with all these tools he has at his disposal.

At the heart of the story is a message about film preservation.  The mystery with Kingsley’s character involves films and how the industry changed.  It may seem strange and out of character for a kids movie to talk about preserving history.  And while it certainly seems more geared to the adults in the audience, I think the story is brought to the kids level by the characters played by Butterfield and Kingsley.  They can identify with a child trying to find his home and with a man finding his inspiration and his imagination again.  Kingsley gives a great performance and carries a lot of the emotional weight of the film.  Butterfield and Moretz also give entertaining performances.  I get the feeling Moretz was enjoying playing a somewhat normal girl character after playing a genderless vampire and a psycho killer superheroine.

There are some little nits I can pick with the movie.  I actually thought one of the weaker parts was with Sacha Baron Cohen’s character.  Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate his character or even dislike it.  I just got the feeling Scorsese was finding him a lot more entertaining than I actually did if that makes sense.  The story also does take a little too long to get going and some of the characters are superfluous.  But even with all that being said, those things I mentioned aren’t “bad“ things just things I didn’t love as much as the rest of the movie.

So yeah, I really enjoyed this movie.  Scorsese makes an absolutely beutiful movie  and has the story to back it up.  Once the movie gets going you are invested in the characters and has a great theme of film appreciation.  It actually kind of feels like Scorsese was trying to make his kid version of Cinema Paradiso.  I am only comparing themes of course and not talking about which is better or any of that.  This movie is recommended and hopefully can stay out of my bomb list.

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