Martin Scorsese's first venture into family friendly material is a pure cinematic delight that sees America's greatest living filmmaker out of his comfort zone but at his blinding best.
The story takes place in Paris during the 1930s - a small boy named Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is an orphaned boy who lives within the confines of the cities' train station. He spends his time stealing odd bits of food to survive while avoiding the unsympathetic station inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen) , he also runs the stations' clocks - a job that the inspector still thinks is performed by Hugo's alcoholic uncle (Ray Winstone). Hugo was left an orphan after his father (Jude Law) was killed during a fire at the museum where he worked, the two of them were fixing a broken automaton that was left at the museum and gathered no interest from the public. They however, found the mysterious invention very interesting and dedicated themselves to figuring out its purpose; Hugo sees the world as one big machine, in the opening breathtaking sequence we actually see the city literally represented as one, Hugo says that machines never come with extra parts and so if the world is a machine he has a place and a purpose in it. He is convinced the static automaton can show him what that purpose is.
[Hugo and his father with the mysterious Automaton]
Through the intervention of a young girl named Isabelle (Hit Girl - Chloe Grace Moretz) they embark on an adventure to figure out the history of the broken automaton, a history that involves Isabelle's own Godfather George Melies (Ben Kingsley).
Hugo is a film lover's film through and through and perhaps only Martin Scorsese could have made it; one only needs to see Scorsese talking about cinema during interviews to see that his knowledge and passion for the medium is unmatched and awe inspiring. The film traces back to the birth of cinema and works as a love letter to the early pioneers who saw their invention as just a passing phase that wouldn't catch on. Over a century later and Hugo hits theatres proving that not only that cinema still has a place in our lives but that the magic is not lost and as enchanting as ever. I recently blogged about my anticipation and worries for Martin Scorsese's decision to shoot his film in 3D - a format which is too often forced and far from an enjoyable viewing experience. I wrote that if anyone can bring out the benefits of 3D it would be Scorsese and I'm happy to say I was right because he uses it so wonderfully and incorporates the format into a story that is about cinema thus making it a fitting addition instead of a money making spoiler.
Young lead actor Asa Butterfield is extremely impressive here as the Oliver like Hugo, a fruitful career surely lies ahead for him. Ben Kingsley provides the films emotional weight and is just as a pleasure to watch as always. Sacha Baron Cohen's slapstick performance as the station inspector is borderline 'Allo 'Allo! but manages to stay in sync with the rest of the film, young viewers will be filled with joyous laughter at his failed attempts to catch Hugo, not that it stopped the adults roaring with laughter too! Scorsese's composition is just as interesting and assured as you'd expect from a master filmmaker and his ongoing collaboration with DP Robert Richardson has produced yet again another stunning film.
For all of the films merits (performances, visuals, music ect) Hugo is the perfect film to see over the festive period but above all worth seeing to witness Martin Scorsese's heart on the screen during every frame.