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REVIEW: Martin Scorcese's Capivating 'Hugo' Is Director's Love Letter to Cinema

hugo still

 (Paramount)

How often can one say they teared up from a Martin Scorsese movie?

“Hugo” is a magical cinematic experience, and a masterpiece so unlike anything Scorsese has made before. Captivating and original, it is the director’s most human film yet. 

Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is an orphan who, like his deceased father (Jude Law), is excellent at fixing things. Left alone in the innards of the Paris train depot, Hugo finds a new life winding the building’s clocks and spying on the station’s shopkeepers. When he is caught stealing from Papa Georges (Ben Kingsley) he sets in motion a chain of events that unlocks a hidden secret and unveils a nearly forgotten history involving the birth of cinema and special effects.

Audiences will immediately connect with both Hugo’s will to explore, as well as Papa Georges’ broken will and passion. The supporting cast of characters are a wild bunch, including Sacha Baron Cohen as an aloof station inspector on Hugo’s trail, and Christopher Lee as a wise bookseller. Audiences will also be whisked away by the gorgeous attention to detail and the recreation of some of cinema'searly classics. “Hugo” draws upon how cinema has shaped the fabric of our cultural imagination, and how fragile and very important the preservation of the art form is.

The production design and cinematography are spectacular as the audience zips and glides in 3D through the Paris train station, waltzing with the Dickensian characters as they interact with each other. Viewers barrel through the walls with Hugo and climb up and around the gears and skeletal system of the station.

“Hugo” has made the best use of 3D since “Avatar.” The 3D accentuates the beautiful photography and provides an incredible depth of field. Unlike any other film since the return of the 3D fad, the technique actually boosts the story.

The sheer skill and love of cinema that Scorsese brings to “Hugo” is undeniable and elevates this film above so many recent family films. But in all the film’s spectacular charm, many young children expecting another Harry Potter may be a little bored with the quieter, serious sections pertaining to the detailed dawn of cinema. But one has to appreciate Scorsese’s success at creating beautiful drama for young adults.

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