This one's a Must-see!

Visually masterful; an unforgettable tribute to film

Another late review of a film most of you have already seen. You already know the story about certain movies being released much later where I live, if they’re released here at all, so I won’t say more about that.

Is Papa Georges (left) perhaps more than Hugo believes?

Hugo is a film many critics seemed to be skeptical about when it was announced. Martin Scorsese may not be the first name one wants attached to a family film in 3D, hence why the release of his newest masterpiece was all the more wonderful. No one – at least not amongst critics – could imagine how 3D could ever be a saving grace in any film, but it was Scorsese who proved to many 3D-skeptics that there are ways to do it right. Hugo is him demonstrating how.

The year is 1931. Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) lives at a train station in Paris. His clockmaker father (Jude Law) is dead but when he was alive he would often bring his son to see films, particularly those of Georges Méliès, such as Journey to The Moon. In the present however, Hugo lives by himself in a clock tower, often trying to steal things from the stores and stands by the train station. One day, he is caught red-handed by the bitter and elderly owner of the toystore, Papa Georges (Ben Kingsley), who steals a notebook from Hugo. It contains images, presumably drawn by his father.

In an attempt to take the notebook back, he follows Papa Georges home and encounter his goddaughter Isabelle (Chloë Moretz) whom he instantly befriends. Eventually, hugo startes working at Georges’ store to earn his notebook back, whilst simultaneously getting to know Isabella more. Isabella tells him that she has never seen a film, as Georges forbids it for some reason, so Hugo decides to bring her along to see a movie, as well as taking her to library, a place where she’s actually allowed, to read more about the wonders of film.

Soon the two realize something. The legendary filmmaker Georges Méliès is, contrary to what is written in the books, very much alive but he is known now as Papa Georges, and has since long forgotten his days of glory, the beauty of the moving picture and the image of a ship crashing into the face of the man in the Moon. He practically no longer exists.

Young Hugo Cabret with Isabella, in his lonely home within the train station's clockwork.

An eerie-looking automaton, given to him by his late father, lives with Hugo in his tower. It observes Hugo when he sleeps at night as if it wants something. Is there a message within it? Perhaps from his father? And why does the Méliès family possess the key to it?

Artwork resembling that iconic scene from Méliès' film 'Journey to The Moon'.

Sacha Baron Cohen provides the film’s comic relief in the form of a character named Gustave, the inspector at the train station, which is such an unusual role for Cohen to play that I hardly realized it was him at first. Christopher LeeFrances de la Tour,  Emily Mortimer, Ray WinstoneRichard GriffithsMichael Stuhlbarg and Helen McCrory play additional side characters, each one as fun and enjoyable as the steampunk-world they inhabit.

Despite the title, the film isn’t really about Hugo, at least not as much as it’s sort of a biography about Georges Méliès, the real star of the film. I don’t know how historically accurate the film is of course, so it may technically be historical fiction but it doesn’t matter much, does it?

A scene which depicts that historical moment when the first moving picture was ever shown to an unsuspecting, breathtaken audience made me fully realize the brilliance of Hugo. This moment was the first time any human being had ever witnessed a moving picture, meaning it looked to them as if a train on a track was about to hit them. This scene made me remember modern cinema and how we now have the technology to make it look like a train in a movie really is coming right at us – this technology is called 3D. I can’t think of any other movie than Hugo where 3D is the not only an improvement, but required to strengthen the story.

Anyone with a passion for movies needs to see Hugo and preferably in 3D, which I still can’t believe I’m saying. If 1001 Movies you Must See Before You Die sits on your living room book shelf, Hugomustn’t slip your radar. However, it has been long since the film first arrived so perhaps it can no longer be seen on the big screen, let alone in 3D? I could neve imagine that benefits from being in 3D this much, not only in terms of visuals and making us feel gripped by the film’s whimsical world but also in terms of storytelling. This is inarguably a first.

Sacha Baron Cohen as Gustave.

Young Asa Butterfield carries the film well and gives a strong performance, but is the performances of Kingsley, Cohen and the always lovely Chloë Moretz that steal the show. The imagery is wonderful, the characters are all lovable, the cinematography is outstanding and the way Martin Scorsese pays tribute to cinema itself is simply awe-inspiring.

Hugo has one five Oscars, recieved worldwide critical acclaim and has been named one of the best films of 2011. I took me unfairly long to finally get to see it, but when I did I got what I expected – an unforgettable experience.

As you might’ve gathered, I did not see Hugo in 2011, so I’ll just say to Hell with it and instead include it on my list of the best films of 2012.

5/5 whatever.

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