By Miles Baxter
Let me start by saying that Hugo was an utter masterpiece. A film like Hugo was something a little different from a typical Scorsese film, but he succeeds in making Hugo a wildly imaginative adventure that delivers a kind of joyful warmth that we scarcely get from the cinema these days. Hugo is a success not just in its execution, but in the feeling it leaves the audience with, in return for our tickets.
This is a film that recognizes the true purpose of 3D.
Typically, what concerns me about 3D is the tendency of adding the 3D element as sort of an afterthought to a 2D movie. Too many times 3D has been added to a movie with no real purpose besides minor 3D gags (maybe a snake popping out at the audience) and pushing up the ticket prices.
Scorsese takes hold of currently largely wasted 3D medium and uses it as a powerful tool for making us a part of the world he’s created. The effects are amazing, and Hugo is one of the few films that I truly feel should be viewed in three dimensions. It’s really something special to see when a film utilizes 3D in such a powerful way to make the setting a living part of the film.
The story follows a young boy (Hugo played by Asa Butterfield) living alone in a train station in France. His days are spent both working the train station clocks as well as stealing metal parts from the station patrons in an attempt to fix a small, steel automaton left to him by his deceased father (Jude Law). When caught trying to steal a toy for parts from the station toy booth owner (Ben Kingsley) he is pulled into the mystery surrounding the man, and his tragic past.
It is here that Hugo realizes that his true purpose in life is to fix that which is broken in more ways than one.
Though I would not be doing the film justice to say it is solely about Hugo. The story is driven by series of characters that are easy to love wholeheartedly. Every single character from Hugo was masterfully created to play specific parts in this adventure.
The daughter of the toy booth owner Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz) plays Hugo’s partner in crime, and we love to see those two become closer as they unravel the mystery around them. Even the “villain” stationmaster (played fantastically by Sacha Baron Cohen) earns a special place in our hearts by the end.
The film goes into great depth giving us a brief history of cinema through the eyes of Georges Méliès, a French filmmaker and more prominent figure in the early stages of cinema. Some of the most heartwarming scenes in the movie come from Méliès working in his cinema element, directing hundreds of early films and being a pioneer in the beginnings of his art.
It’s hard to resist the image of actors dressed up in absurd costumes and battling a giant foam dragon for the camera. There’s something really wonderful about watching the making of these early films unfold and Hugo works to capture as much of the magic from that era as possible.
Hugo made me happier than any film has in some time.
One of the major themes of the film states that nothing can capture our imaginations quite like a good movie. Hugo itself stands as a testament to this idea. Scorsese pulls us in with a great cast and delightful story, and just when he knows he can break our hearts, he gives us complete happiness instead.