Movie Review: 'Hugo' is Scorsese at his best and a holiday treat for all ages
The motion picture "Hugo," now playing at the Fandango Galaxy cineplex in Carson City, is a holiday movie that kids and adults can enjoy. It's Martin Scorsese's homage to film pioneer Georges Méliès, a French innovator who created much of the library of movie techniques back before World War I only to be forgotten amid the strife on combat in France. His films were largely destroyed to make such things as guitar picks.
The movie is basically about Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield), a child orphaned when his father (Jude Law) dies in a fire. He is taken in by an alcoholic uncle who lives in a train station amid all kinds of gears and clockwork which Hugo keeps oiled and running. He is fascinated by an automaton figure which he tries to operate but lacks a heart-shaped key.
He lives by his wits in the train station and becomes involved with Georges (Sir Ben Kingsley) who has a gift shop there. Through him he becomes friends with Georges' daughter Isabelle (Chloe Grace Mortez) who has the heart-shaped key.
Hugo is pursued through the station by the war-wounded Station Inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen), who works up a relationship with the flower seller ( Emily Mortimer) as Lisette. An excursion of sorts but charming.
Through a series of twists the young pair go to the movies and are befriended by film historian Rene Tabard (Michael Stuhbarg). He opens up film history to the two. And in a dazzling series of films the original movies of Georges are shown, charming in their naivety. There is also a side story of Georges and his wife an co-film star Mama Jeanne (Helen McCrory), who still shines despite her years.
The film ends with Georges being honored for the filmmaker he was with Hugo and Isabella happily in the audience. Several scenes from Georges' films flash by.
This is an all-star cast with Kingsley in a role that he richly deserves after some recent clunkers. It may be his best work since "Gandhi." Butterfield is everything child actor should be, wide-eyed and innocent. He is matched by Moretz as a friend indeed and just as swetly innocent as he.
This is filmmaking at its peak by a master of the art form. Scorsese honors not only Méliès but many other American originators of films, from Charlie Chaplin on. (Johnny Depp makes a brief appearance.)
While much of the movie is of an adult level, children can't help but be fascinated by the whirling clock works and the famous shot of the Man in the Moon being hit by a French rocket as pure witty history. And the kids may learn a little something about real movies without a chase scene.
It's in 3D, which is mostly unobtrusive (except early when snowflakes distract from the action). Scorsese handles the 3D with the touch of a director who knows when it matters and when it doesn't.
We can rejoice that amid all the usual holiday fare there is a film that adds up to more than muppets and cartoon characters.
— Sam Bauman
• Asa Butterfield as Hugo Cabret
• Chloë Grace Moretz as Isabelle, Hugo's friend
• Sir Ben Kingsley as Georges Méliès
• Sacha Baron Cohen as the station inspector
• Jude Law as Hugo's father
• Christopher Lee as Monsieur Labisse, the bookshop owner
• Helen McCrory as Mama Jeanne, Méliès' wife
• Michael Stuhlbarg as René Tabard, a film historian
• Marco Aponte as train engineer assistant
• Emily Mortimer as Lisette, the flower girl
• Ray Winstone as Uncle Claude, Hugo's deceased uncle
• Frances de la Tour as Madame Emile, the owner of the café
• Richard Griffiths as Monsieur Frick, the newspaper seller
• Johnny Depp as M. Rouleau
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Produced by: Johnny Depp, Timothy Headington, Graham King, Martin Scorsese
Screenplay by: John Logan
Music by: Howard Shore
Cinematography: Robert Richardson
Editing by: Thelma Schoonmaker
Running time: two hours six minutes, rated PG
Metropolitan Filmexport Distributed by Paramount Pictures (US)