Film Review: Hugo
● By Wendy Sipple
Hugo, an orphaned child, lives in the walls of a central train station where he is constantly winding the many clocks. The boy has mastered the art of living by stealing from the local vendors for food and other necessities. This includes getting gears to repair an old animatron that was his deceased father’s last project. His determination to finish the animatron leads him to cross paths with an old toy shop owner and his goddaughter, who like Hugo, is an orphan as well. Together they work to unlock the secrets of their past as well as their future.
Hugo is chalked full of Oscar winning talent both in front and behind the camera. Led by Martin Scorsese, who is one of the most critically acclaimed directors of our generation, it was expected that Hugo would be a shining example of filmmaking. However I have to admit that I was bored by the story -- I did not feel a connection to any of the characters, and I found the whole movie rather odd.
This movie was marketed as a sophisticated children’s movie. I suppose it stars teenage actors, but I just couldn’t see any child under the age of 13 being able to sit through this movie. Especially in the second half of the film when the story turns away from the an orphaned child trying to make sense of his father’s death and heads to a film about a depressed filmmaker mourning the loss of his film studio.
The one shining achievement of the movie rests with Robert Richardson’s cinematography. His ability to get the most out of the 3D experience is amazing. Using the same technology that Avatar used, the look and feel of this movie is the best since Avatar. It is especially noteworthy when noting Hugo used dark and dull colors in contrast to the bright imagery of Avatar. Getting a decent picture in 3D with muted colors is nothing short of impossible, but Richardson somehow pulled it off.
The acting in the movie is odd, much like the rest of the picture. A large part of this is due to Scorsese’s direction, as the cast is immensely talented led by Ben Kingsley. Chloe Martz is one of the next generation of fabulous actresses too. But everyone seemed to over act during the majority of the movie with the exception of Hugo played well by Asa Butterfield. Perhaps this over acting was tongue in cheek, trying to pay homage to the old films it so obviously loves. It just didn’t work for me.
Hugo was made for film historians as Scorsese took a movie about an orphaned boy and turned it into a piece of propaganda about film preservation. Sure, film snobs will enjoy the early ties to early filmmaking but the average movie going audience will not find it compelling, and wonder, much like me, isn’t the main character of this movie Hugo? Shouldn’t the uplifting moments and key character arches belong to him? And isn’t his plight of homelessness and struggle for survival much more important than an old filmmakers movies? The priorities of this story are lost on me for sure, but at least the 3D was good.
Films like Hugo – Amelie, Gangs of New York and Chronicles of Narnia
Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.