Movie Review – Hugo
Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Sacha Baron Cohen, Ben Kingsley
When this film first came out, I was excited to see it. I wanted to take my nephew to the theatre right away just so I’d have an excuse to go see what looked to be a great kid’s movie. I never did get a chance to see it and, as Oscar season approached, it turned out that Hugo wasn’t really just aimed at kids after all. It was getting big buzz, it was nominated for both Best Picture and Best Director, and I wanted to see it even more. I was sure I would like it; it had great visuals, everyone was British, it had a magical feel, and it was just cool-looking. Well, I finally saw it, and it was everything I had imagined it would be; a great story that Scorsese shot beautifully. But Oscar-worthy? Sadly no, not even close.
The majority of the film takes place in a Paris train station, where a boy named Hugo lives within the walls. He is the orphaned son of a curator/inventor/scholar who’s only life now is maintaining the clocks that his uncle was once in charge of. Hugo spends his days hiding from the Inspector, who will send him straight to the orphanage should he find out that Hugo is stealing for his food and living without supervision. Hugo’s one passion in life, aside from clocks, is the completion of an automaton, a wind-up figure left to him by his father. Using old notes and stealing spare parts, Hugo hopes that in fixing the robot he will receive a message from his father and a compass for his purpose in life. Little does he know that his search will link him to an old toy-maker, his goddaughter, and the lives of the train station workers who Hugo impacts without even knowing it.
The film was as visually stunning as advertised. It was interesting to watch and fun to imagine yourself as Hugo. So, the child within me really liked it. But that’s about where the magic stopped. What started out as a very intriguing mystery quickly fizzled out and became pretty boring. I was left wanting more; more information about Hugo’s father (played briefly by Jude Law), more passion from the story, and more depth from the characters. I was not impressed at all by the acting of Asa Butterfield, nor anyone else for that matter. No one was able to draw me in, to make me fall in love with more than the good-looking sets. And I wanted to like it, I really did, but so many things were just so off-putting; Borat’s physical humor that mostly fell flat, Scorsese’s mini film lecture that broke the fourth wall. There were just too many problems and too many loose ends, and ultimately I was left liking the movie, but just barely.
My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰