It took me quite a while to get to HUGO and I almost missed it entirely... because the latest from Martin Scorsese really didn't do all that well on its initial release, and in my neck of the woods, the 3-D screenings were the first to get axed. I had heard that this was one of the relatively few films in which the 3-D really meant something, so...
In any event, the multiple Oscar nominations ensured that HUGO was back on the big screen AND in 3-D all over again, so this time I snagged it.
HUGO is actually a very difficult film to review--I could spend plenty of time describing all sorts of visual treats, but then I'd be getting unavoidably into spoiler territory. I could tell you how exuberantly and successfully the film celebrates (and participates in) sheer creativity, but I couldn't simultaneously convey just what the film entailed (and THAT was exactly the problem with the film's trailers and ad campaign--we knew that Scorsese had made his first "children's" film and that it involved a young boy with some sort of magical key getting catapulted into... well, just WHAT?).
The film itself builds up to the mystery most admirably... we know that young, orphaned Hugo is faithfully maintaining his late father's "clockwork" legacy while hiding out in a French metro station... we know that the curmudgeonly toy seller (Ben Kingsley) is somehow profoundly affected by the sketches he finds in Hugo's notebook... we know that Sacha Baron Coen is the frustrated (and war-disabled) station agent who gleefully rounds up stray children and sends them packing to the orphanage... and we know that Hugo is working towards the goal of activating an extraordinarily complex humanoid automaton his father had rescued from a museum... and audience anticipation is at its peak when he (long story short) finally obtains the all-important key...
Okay. I imagine that by now anyone reading this has already learned that HUGO is really about the rediscovery of the legendary fantastic filmmaker Georges Melies, but the emphasis on creativity certainly doesn't start there--from the very beginning we're encouraged to delight in the intracacies of toy and clock making and the extraordinary worlds opened up by literature (who better than CHRISTOPHER LEE to open the door to the works of Jules Verne?), giving us a sense not only of the work of Melies but to what inspired him in the first place.
And in the meantime, Martin Scorsese himself is delighting in HIS new cinematic toys in the form of his first-ever experiment in 3-D. And I must concur that the process is enormously effective in his hands--it's not the parade of "in your face" flying objects but a completely believable immersion into an amazing clockwork world (which, of course, even lets us glimpse A TRIP TO THE MOON as we never have before).
Yes, this is another "children's" film that's bound to appeal far more to experienced adults. Youngsters may find themselves getting occasionally restless (and even I myself was surprised when the movie slowed down at one point, allowing me to realize that it was barely halfway through--and yes, I even rolled my eyes slightly when I realized that we had to go through some obligatory plot resolution before we could get to the real payoff of the movie).
It's a difficult sell because it's all about the magic and very little about the story when all's said and done. But see it--and take the children.
As in not off. If you want to post about mainstream flicks, this is the forum.
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