Movie Review: HugoPosted by MomOnMars on November 27, 2011
“”It’s an adventure, and I’ve never had one outside of books.”
And with those words…off you go…on an adventure with Hugo that feels like you’re in the middle of something that sits somewhere nestled in the worlds of a Dickins’ novel, Les Miserable, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, all tinted using an Instagram app. Actually, the visuals are absolutely spellbounding.
Now, I have to admit, I’m a sucker for any story that includes history. In this case – the history of film. Wrapped up between fact and fiction, this is a story that masterfully weaves the tale of a young boy, Hugo, orphaned and living the walls of a train station in 1930s Paris. He cares for the clocks while trying to repair an automaton that he believes holds a message from his father.
This work – and the mystery of how to get it to work – leads to a much bigger mystery as Hugo’s life becomes interwoven with the life of a broken-hearted toy shop owner, played beautifully by Sir Ben Kingsley.
As the tale unfolds, Hugo becomes focused on learning as much as he can about Georges Méliès, an early pioneer in film making. Remember the old movie of the rocket flying into the eye of the man in the moon? It was the first movie Hugo’s father saw…and was an original Méliès. I could tell you more, but it would spoil the surprises that make the movie so thoroughly engaging…and historically accurate.
A mean constable with a bum leg who keeps throwing orphans in jail, a couple who are kept apart by a jealous dog, a bookworm goddaughter to the toy shop owner with a penchant for erudite vocabulary and a professor who has literally written the book on Méliès — all help keep the story moving along against the backdrop of such stunning clockwork that you have to keep reminding yourself to pay attention to the story instead of wondering how they created the sets. And we didn’t even see the 3D version of the movie. I can only imagine how dazzling it must be.
While there are a few slow moments, there are also moments that will absolutely take your breath away: the technical wizardry of a dream sequence, the moment the gears turn and the automaton begins to write, the transition of Méliès from stage to film at the end of the movie.
Hugo is billed as a family friendly adventure. It is that. But I have to say – it may be a little nerdy for those looking for blockbuster, mainstream generic. But if you love movies, history and film…if you love technology, robots and mechanics…if you love the art of storytelling and magic and imagination…then you will absolutely love Hugo.