When a Scorsese film is released I usually know about it and see it immediately. As cliché as this may sound he is probably the greatest living director out there and so when his latest film comes out it is nothing to take lightly. With Hugo though I did just that, I took it lightly. The trailer didn’t look that great (a cross between the Polar Express and a lame orphanage story) and their really wasn’t much buzz on the film. It took the critic’s word to bring me and my 3 nieces and nephews, who I was watching, to the theater. I still wasn’t really excited about the movie when it started and at the end I wasn’t blown away but Scorsese’s Hugo is a strong and a surprisingly enchanting film.
The source material comes from a young adult book that I had never heard of and it’s hard to see why Scorsese would be drawn to this material until the full story plays out in front of us; this is Scorsese’s Cinema Paradiso. I guess if there was someone who should make this type of movie it would have to be Scorsese. He has done so much for films with his campaign for the discovery and restorations of old classics. He has a love for cinema history unlike many others and his love shows here as most of the film oozes with not only a romantic view of cinema but a historical one too. The obvious thing isn’t why he would do something like this but how. Scorsese hasn’t made anything that is remotely child friendly so what would a Scorsese “children” film look like. Hugo is different than anything that he has done before but it is filled with many of the same characteristics of a Scorsese film; strong plot, great casting, and excellent performances. So the surprise of a children film made by Scorsese is overshadowed by the fact that as far as quality goes, Hugo has a lot in common with the Scorsese filmography.
The whole ambience and feel of the film is very much a mix between a fantasy film in the line with The Golden Compass and a Christmas movie. The movie is none of those but it still creates that sense of magic and community that are present in those genres and the 3D plays in perfectly. Most of the time I would recommend you see a movie in 2D because 3D rarely impresses or adds to the film but here you have to see it in 3D. The difference between Hugo and most 3D movies is that Hugo knows how to use it. There is something intriguing about a picture that creates the allusion of depth. The 3D adds to the texture of the setting with falling snow and steamy railroads. It creates a mood perfectly and that’s what 3D needs to be used for. The film probably loses a lot of its magic in 2D and for that reason alone if you are willing to go to the theater and see Hugo than do yourself a favor and spend 2 dollars more. The 3D here is well worth it.
I remember during my history of film class at Missouri State I watched some of the earliest films ever made. It is hard to believe that people were blown away by just a video of a train coming into the station and people exiting a building but there is something romantic about them. They are like Film’s baby pictures and a reminder of how far film has come and where it came from. Hugo is such a sweet and innocent tale about what we forget about. The films we toss away for the new and the people that get lost with time. Scorsese has made a beautiful movie that is a movie first and a love letter second to things lost and found.