MOVIE REVIEW: Hugo

HUGO

Film: Hugo
Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz

It’s safe to say that most people don’t know much, if anything, about the history of film. Unless you’re a film buff like me I’d be willing to bet your knowledge of cinema history is “Hey, movies are cool, I like them.” This isn’t a bad thing, I don’t know anything about the history of computers or the internet (it was invented by Ben Franklin right?), but I still love and use it endlessly. One person that cares very deeply about the history of film and filmmaking is Martin Scorsese, and it’s never shone through more than in his latest film.

Hugo is about a young orphaned boy who lives in the railway station in Paris in the early 1930’s. The title character keeps all the clocks at the train station running so he doesn’t get caught by the station inspector and taken to the orphanage. His father was a clock maker, and before he died in a fire he and Hugo worked on a mechanical man he found in the museum he worked at. This is all Hugo has left of his father, so he steals parts from a toy shop in the station to fix the robot in hopes that it will deliver a message to him from his deceased father. Along the way Hugo befriends the adopted daughter of the toy shop owner and thus begins the whimsical mystery of why she has the key he needed to set the robot off and who the toy maker really is. Without giving away the plot I will tell you that while it doesn’t sound like it (and it certainly isn’t advertised) this movie is about the history of cinema and the work of George Melies.

Hugo was one of the most wonderful children’s films I’ve seen in a long time. Scorsese is at the top of his game here, and he proves he doesn’t need all the grit and violence to tell an amazing story. Whimsical transitions and breathtaking tracking shots remind you why there is only one Martin Scorsese. I realized more that once that my mouth was open in awe after fluid shots took me through the railway station in a way that I could only imagine in my wildest dreams. The railway station itself was treated like a living organism, with thousands of moving parts and pieces all working together in impossibly complex ways. When I left the theater to a drab, lifeless Michigan scene I was let down after being immersed in such an amazing world for the last two hours.

My only complaint with Hugo was that I found Inspector Gustav’s antics to be a little too zany and cartoon-like. It seemed to contrast with the rest of the world, which was set more in reality. This wasn’t much of a problem though, as he was a secondary character used to move the story along and create more conflict. Perhaps the most enjoyable part of Hugo for me was seeing the first films of cinema on the big screen, especially the films of George Melies. I know that most of my generation wont appreciate seeing Le Voyage Dans La Lune in a theater, but for film buffs and others whose hearts belong to cinema Hugo was a moving and heartwarming tribute to the things we love most in the world.

SCORE: 9/10
Review written by: Justin Proper

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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