Martin Scorsese's new movie, Hugo, is the cinematic retelling of Brian Selznick's novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. The film was released today just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday, but parents and kids might be surprised by what they see. If families are looking for a knee slapper with flashy visual effects, they will be disappointed. This one goes deeper.
The Hugo movie takes place in the 1930s and begins in the metallic innards of a giant clock that governs a major Paris train station. Hugo Cabret, played by Asa Butterfield (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas) is an orphan and a wizard with machines. He sneaks around the train station fixing things, stealing food and doing his best to keep away from the grumpy station inspector, played by Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat). While trying to repair a mechanical toy-man and discover the secret his father left behind, Hugo becomes involved with the mysterious toy shop owner (Ben Kingsley) and his god-daughter. Together, they discover the truth about each other and overcome the forces working against them.
Sounds pretty typical right? Don't be fooled. The Hugo movie is a delicate and deliberate drama that winds its way into the hearts of the characters. Sure, there are moments of comedy. Cohen, as the station inspector, is a clumsy oaf with a faulty metal leg-brace that malfunctions at the worst (or the best) times, yet most of the comedy is subtle, evoking more smiles than laughs. There are dog chases and cool gadgets, mysterious characters and strange dream sequences, but none of these are the life blood of the film. The majority of the action is in the dialogue between characters and the characters' search for purpose. Truthfully, the purpose that the characters discover in the end is not sensational, but maybe that is why it feels more true and therefore, more beautiful.
Just because the Hugo movie is not your typical flashy 3D blockbuster, it is still visually gorgeous from start to finish and the 3D effects are captivating. Film snobs may turn their noses up at 3D as a gimmick for the mindless masses, but it undeniably enhances this cinematic journey.