Hugo (2011)

Hugo Movie Review

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Hugo Movie Review

Hugo is a 2011 film directed by Martin Scorsese and it is about Georges Melies. It is one of the finest films of that respectable year.

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My life has taught me one lesson, Hugo Cabret,

and not the one I thought it would.

Happy endings only happen in the movies.

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Hugo Movie Review

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The story is fascinating. From Hugo’s life in the clocks, a mysterious Automaton and of course the superb real life story of groundbreaking filmmaker Georges Melies. What I found fascinating about this movie is the inherent fairy tale charm it possesses along with the mysterious spirit to it. And the film is a wonderful and very intriguing mix of a fairy tale, real life personal drama, 1920s slapstick comedy, ‘Modern Times’ and ‘Oliver Twist‘. It is influenced by those films and it somehow mixes it all into a satisfying whole.

But of course the highlight is Georges’ story and it is simply astonishing not only because it evokes what personal troubles this wonderful man had in his life, but also because this story can apply to almost each and every one of us. It is filled with a wonderful theme of transience that is so powerful and deeply unfortunate. Everything has its time and time is not kind when it passes by. But it achieves somehow a happy ending in the end which is not unrealistic but great because it shows his troubles of overcoming and dealing with his past and accepting his place in film history which is great and he will definitely hold that place for eternity. It is all very emotional, touching and simply stunning to look at.

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Hugo Movie Review

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And that all wouldn’t mean much if the approach wasn’t appropriate, but it is excellent. The movie is filled with silent film references that it should prove enthralling and enchanting for anyone interested in the subject matter. It was marvelous for me because I am interested in the silent era and I find that era fascinating and ripe for these kinds of stories. And they recreated wonderfully the sets and how they made the films and of course the major emphasis on ‘A Trip to the Moon’ is a great touch. It approaches the story from all aspects, from his personal life and troubles with the past to his filming in the past to his relationship with Hugo and the emphasis on what his films mean is great and how his films were incredibly creative and advanced for its time.

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Hugo Movie Review

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The characters are very endearing and likable. Hugo is solid as the lead, but of course Georges is wonderfully developed and complex. Inspector Gustave adds a certain comic charm to the film, whereas Isabelle is simply wonderful as a girl that yearns for adventure. Her inherent charm, childlike innocence and adventurous spirit is evident and she brings a lot of heart to the film.

The acting is one of the bigger problems I have with the film. Chloe Grace Moretz is wonderful as always and Ben Kingsley is great, but Asa Butterfield could have done a better job as well as the other actors including Sasha Baron Cohen who struggles at times. It is solid, but should have been superb for this film.

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Hugo Movie Review

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The other big problem I have is of course the running time. This story does not need 2 hours, it should have been 90 minutes long. That does not mean that the story is weak, it is marvelous, but its scope needs no more than 90 minutes and this is the frequent problem Hollywood has. They always have to make two-hour long movies when a lot of the stories do not need more than an hour and a half. And that problem is evident in this film especially in slower beginning and some dragged moments later on, especially with the inspector and other comic characters. They are great and reminiscent of 1920s comedies, but they took too much running time which was very unnecessary. And I could have done with less action sequences, but those problems do not take much away from this beautiful film. They only prevent it from reaching a classic status which is a real shame.

The technical aspects are simply fantastic. The visual effects are wonderful, but the imagery is stunning and the cinematography is splendid. I usually don’t like darker films and this is dark in imagery but it has such a strong art direction reminiscent of Tim Burton that I fell in love with it regardless. The score is also solid and only the editing, as I mentioned earlier, is troubling. It is a visually stunning film that adds a wonderful charm and fairy tale feel to it. And the tone is very well done and the sound is of course marvelous. The movie definitely deserved all of the technical categories it got at the Academy Awards.

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Hugo Movie Review

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This film was nominated for Best Picture but lost to ‘The Artist’ and those two received the most awards that evening, both got five. And this was probably the last time I agreed with the Academy because this was the year where they honored truly two¬†of the best films of the year and the films that honor film itself. Both films are an homage and a beautiful ode to silent film and the wonders of its filmmaking that it was great to have both of these films awarded. 2011 is a pretty weak year. However, it has those two splendid films that should always be remembered as well as the films and era they are about.

In the end, Hugo has problematic editing and pacing, the running time should have definitely been shorter and the acting is not the greatest, but this is a movie that is an homage to silent era done wonderfully with very likable characters, fairy tale charm as well as mysterious side to it, it’s a marvelous visual feast and a terrific personal drama with a relevant theme. It is charming, simply beautiful and it can bring both tears and smile to your face how moving it is. Hugo is a minor classic and one of the finest films of 2011.

My Rating – 4.5

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Posted in 2010s, 2011, Adventure, Drama, Epic, Family, FILM DECADES, History, MOVIE REVIEWS and tagged , , , , , .

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