Thoughts: Hugo is a delight for the eyes and ears, and a rather ticklish mixture for the mind. Scorsese puts his love of cinema on full display, and fellow fanatics like myself are afforded an opportunity to revel in the magic alongside regular moviegoers, and the result is a great work of art that can be enjoyed on many levels.
The eponymous Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is central to the plot of the film, but turns out to not exactly be the focal point. He seems to exist solely as a means to get the film where it needs to be. He almost acts purely as a conduit for the audience to experience the many wonders Scorsese has planned for us throughout the runtime. Hugo works behind the scenes inside a busy Parisian train station, quite literally, he is inside the walls, keeping the clocks running at their correct time. In his spare time he begs, borrows and mostly steals parts to reassemble a broken down automaton left behind by his late father. Through a failed attempt to lift more parts, young Hugo is accosted by the old man that runs the trinket and toy store, and through this chance meeting, and many more with a variety of other characters, Hugo is afforded a rare opportunity to discover his true purpose in life, and to perhaps revitalize the spark that was lost by a former creator of dreams and magic.
The set design, sound design and overall attention to detail in Hugo is astounding. And on blu-ray, it is almost like a smack in the mouth. The film sports a very distinct, almost 4 colour palette, and the cinematography echoes the films of yesterday, as well as more recent fare, most particularly the works of Jeunet and Caro. The entire opening sequence is one of near silence- dialogue wise. We follow Hugo as he makes his rounds, and are introduced tangentially to all the various players who will populate this bustling microcosm. It is a very magical sequence, and one that sets the tone for the rest of the film. And the sound and music culminate in a vibrant, expressive manner that just bleeds together with the visuals to truly shine as a labour of love. The power of cinema is both on display and held up as the true magic of our current lifetime.
Of course, my personal issue with the film was the more than occasionally clunky exchanges between the two kids (Chloe Moretz being his newfound friend), but as long as you stick with it, you get some great performances from the side characters, like Sacha Baron Cohen, the lovely Helen McCrory and, most importantly, Sir Ben Kingsley as legendary French director Georges Melies. The entire first half of the film is practically set-up, but once you get past all that, it becomes apparent what the true nature of Hugo is, and it becomes something else entirely, something truly special. Maybe it's just the cinema-lover in me, maybe I see through rose tinted glasses. But I thought it was all truly fantastic, and I felt myself welling up a little throughout the second half (but I didn't cry though).
So personally, I loved Hugo, and can't wait to see it on a big screen. I'm almost mad at myself for missing it in 3D.
Almost. Fucking 3D.