Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) lives within the walls of the Paris train station making sure the clocks continue to run. He does what he can to avoid being caught by the facility’s chief inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen). He befriends a young girl, Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), who is the goddaughter to the station’s resident toy maker, Georges (Ben Kinglsey), a man who hides a secret only the boy’s infinite imagination will be able to unlock.
Here’s what I wrote about this Hugo back in November of 2011:
“Based on the beloved novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese’s (Shutter Island, The Departed) 3D adaptation Hugo is at times a visual and emotional marvel that moved me to euphoric tears. It’s sensational final 30 minutes are a celebration of the cinematic medium, a jovial historical calling card to the early days of silent film and childlike imagination that speaks to the very best of who we are and all of the fantasies of magnificence we eagerly wish obtain. It is a miraculous achievement that, during this home stretch, engages on levels and in ways few other films can admit to, and as such makes a decided case to be considered as one of the year’s finest achievements.
Yet there are issues to be had, Scorsese and screenwriter John Logan (Rango, The Aviator) not entirely successful in translating Selznick’s prose for the big screen. The entire subplot involving the inspector’s never-ending quest to capture Hugo gets old far too fast, and there are moments where the movie dips into a state of juvenile sentimentality more attuned to a Nickelodeon or Disney Channel sitcom than it is to the high drama aspired to here. More so, while I was never bored by the proceedings, it should be stated that it does take the movie a bit of time to ultimately hit its stride, and as wonderful as Hugo and Isabelle’s friendship climactically proves to be getting there took a tad more effort than I somewhat felt it needed to…
…Scorsese has found a way to extrapolate on his love for the camera and the cinematic medium in a way that speaks universally to the child within us all. Hugo is more than a history lesson, it is a love letter, beautifully conveying the importance and the significance of the early days of moviemaking and lovingly showcasing how those first moving images of trains, crowds mingling and man journeying to the moon shaped the filmmakers of today. It enraptures the soul, engages the intellect and connects in an emotional way that had me mesmerized. I would not, could not, look away from the screen, the smile on my face during this third act bit of blissful delirium seemingly plastered on.
Yet do not misunderstand, what makes all this borderline brilliant is that Scorsese never forgets about his characters, never loses sight of Hugo’s story or how his journey plays upon Méliès and his family. What is discovered, what is revealed, all that is delivered comes from a character-driven place that is as distinct as it is wonderful, adding to the film’s innate power to charm and to beguile proving once again the best stories are always the ones you can relate to on a personal level.
I find in many ways this review could go on forever. There is so much more to talk about, so much just on a technical front – whether it be Howard Shore’s (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse) score, Robert Richardson’s (Inglourious Basterds) cinematography or Dante Ferretti’s (The Black Dahlia) eye-popping production design – I don’t even know where to begin. I could go on about the intricacies of the script, the delicate and subtlety complex nature of the majority of the performances (although Cohen did get on my nerves at times) or how Moretz’s use of the word, “clandestine,” made me shiver in absolute giggly glee.
The point is that, even with its flaws, and I’d be lying if I tried to make the case that it didn’t have any, Hugo is such a wondrous achievement on so many different levels trying to go into detail in regards to them all borders on impossible. For me, the end result is that Scorsese has manufactured a motion picture that articulates to everything I love and adore about cinema, but has done so in a way that also speaks to greater angels hiding within us all and to the better people each and every one of us hopes on some level to be. It is, in a word, sublime, and here’s hoping general audiences will take the time to discover its heartwarming magic for themselves.”
Hugo just gets better and better the more times I see it. The first third is still a bit clunky, but admittedly it doesn’t annoy me as much now as it did on that first viewing. That small nitpick aside, the last two-thirds are a glorious achievement that swirl and twirl around the viewer in a way that fascinates and beguiles like no tomorrow. Scorsese has manufactured a delightful fantasy that connects the here and now with the imaginative world of yesterday, one feeding into the other like a visual symphony whose crescendo will continue to build for decades to come.
Hugo is presented on a dual-layer 50GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 1080p 1.85:1 transfer.
This disc features English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 as well as French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks and includes optional English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish subtitles.
Extras here include:
· Shoot the Moon (The Making of Hugo) (19:48)
· The Cinemagician, Georges Méliès (15:41)
· The Mechanical Man at the Heart of Hugo (12:45)
· Big Effects, Small Scale (5:55)
· Sacha Baron Cohen: Role of a Lifetime (3:33)
The best featurette, without question, is the one on Georges Méliès. It’s a fascinating piece chronicling the filmmaker in surprising detail considering the running time, and is easily the one short I would choose to watch again at some point in the future.
The rest are strictly okay, only Shoot the Moon going into any sort of engrossing detail as far the film’s production is/was concerned. In all honesty I was somewhat disappointed by all of this, and for a film of this caliber I couldn’t help but wish for more.
This set comes with access to a Digital Copy, a DVD version of the film and is UltraViolet Enabled.
Hugo looks spectacular on Blu-ray, the five-time Oscar winner a gloriously divine achievement young and old alike should embrace in equal measure.