By Mykah Murphy–2/6/2012
“Martin Scorsese” and “family film” are not phrases one hears together often. However, the infamous director’s newest film, “Hugo,” has proven the combination not only works, it may even be Oscar-worthy.
“Hugo” has been nominated for 11 Academy Awards including Best Director and Best Picture. It is adapted from Brian Selznick’s 2007 novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret.
Asa Butterfield (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas) stars as the film’s title character. He is a savvy young orphan who lives within the walls of a 1930s Paris train station. The film is centered on Hugo’s struggle to decipher what he believes is a message from his late father, and the unlikely relationships he develops along the way.
Sir Ben Kingsley (Gandhi) plays Georges Méliès, a bitter shopkeeper whose mysterious past is somehow intertwined with Hugo’s. As he strives to piece the story together, Hugo finds assistance and camaraderie in Isabelle, portrayed by the precocious Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass). In a rather unusual role, Sacha Baren Cohen (Borat) is the strict and slightly deranged Station Inspector. Determined to maintain order, the Inspector makes numerous attempts to thwart the efforts of the young protagonists. Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes) also makes an appearance when Hugo reminisces on his deceased father.
Often these days, 3-D effects are used to mask an otherwise forgettable film (Shark Night 3-D, anyone?). Refreshingly, this is not the case with “Hugo.” The 3-D in this film has been a factor since its inception, rather than being hurriedly added on last-minute to boost box office sales. The meticulous planning that went into properly utilizing the effects is clear. Every scene is vividly life-like, and the vaguely whimsical realm in which the story takes place becomes even more magical from behind 3-D glasses.
What could have been a stale, all-too-familiar story is instead brought to life in the exhilarating ride that is “Hugo.” An unexpected high point comes near the end, as viewers are taken back to the origins of modern film in a spectacular montage of 1920s cinema. These are the scenes in which Scorsese’s influence and all his artistic splendor become palpable. It seems only fitting that the 2012 Academy Award’s most-nominated film includes a touching homage to all that the cinema stands for in the past, present, and future.
In a fantastical setting with innovative characters and stunning visual effects, 2012’s race to the Oscars is led by “Hugo” a touching film that truly is for all ages.
By Mykah Murphy–2/6/2012