- Running time:
- 126 minutes
- Ben Kingsley -
- Papa Georges/Georges Méliès
- Sacha Baron Cohen -
- Station Inspector
- Asa Butterfield -
- Hugo Cabret
- Chloe Grace Moretz -
- Ray Winstone -
- Uncle Claude
Young orphan Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) lives inside the walls of the Paris train station in 1931, making sure the clocks run on time while avoiding the authoritarian Station Inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen). Hugo has a knack for machinery, and steals parts from toy store owner Papa Georges (Ben Kingsley) for a special project—which leads to a friendship with Georges’ ward Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz) and the key to unlocking the mystery of Georges’ true identity.
The buzz: The first “family” film from Oscar-winning Hollywood icon Martin Scorsese is based on Brian Selznick’s brilliant Caldecott Medal winning childrens novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret”—a visually and narratively striking blend of fantasy, history and stunning illustrations. Scorsese, inspired by James Cameron’s work on “Avatar,” opted to shoot the adaptation in 3D—and no less an expert than Cameron himself has gone on record saying “Hugo” represents the best use of 3D photography he’s seen.
The verdict: At its core, “Hugo” is about the love of cinema, and there are few filmmakers capable of perfectly capturing the intricacies of that love with the passion of Scorsese. He’s a master technician—“Hugo” is the extremely rare film that not only demands to be seen in 3D, it also elevates the possibilities of the form—and an unapologetic movie buff. That usually makes his work a pleasure to watch for both style and content, but “Hugo” goes a step further by weaving a rich sense of film appreciation into the plot. The truth of who Papa Georges really is opens up a world of archival film clips as well as concise lessons into the early days of filmmaking and the realms of film scholarship and preservation. Heady stuff for a movie being sold as a “family friendly,” but Scorsese and screenwriter John Logan (“The Aviator”) take their cues from Selznick’s source material to pull off every aspect with a graceful light touch. More problematic for kids (and adults) accustomed to the likes of “Transformers” and “Chipmunks” will be the film’s deliberate pace, occasionally exacerbated by lengthy pauses in dialogue scenes. And yet just as sure as “Hugo” will make some viewers restless, it’s also guaranteed to provide everyone who sees it with an astonishing array of dazzling sequences to remember forever. For some kids, this will be the weird little movie they saw at a young age and never forgot—lodged in their minds through the indelible power of cinema. “Hugo” explores what makes a film great—that inspired mix of dreams, magic, artistry, passion and the pure joy of play—and, in the process, emerges as a truly great film.
Did you know? Scorsese fills the film with great actors in supporting roles--Helen McCrory deserves special mention for a magnificent turn as Georges’ wife—including several he’s worked with before. Kingsley and Emily Mortimer (the Station Inspector’s sweet love interest) were in “Shutter Island,” Jude Law (Hugo’s father) appeared in “The Aviator,” Ray Winstone (Hugo’s drunkard uncle) had a role in “The Departed” and Michael Stuhlbarg (film historian Rene Tabard) is a regular on “Boardwalk Empire.”
“Hugo” is also playing in 2D (if you absolutely must). Find local showtimes here.
Follow Metromix's Geoff Berkshire on Twitter: @geoffberkshire