Firstly, my apologies about my lack of updates recently. Life has been … a bit less than fantastic lately, but that seems to be all behind me, so I shall be focusing on getting some new content onto my blog.
I managed to catch Hugo at the cinema recently and was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. I went into it not expecting much since I’d heard mixed opinions from various people. From the trailer, which includes a clockwork man, and the visual style, one would be think that Hugo is a fantasy film, which in many ways it is, but not in the way you’d expect. For those of you who are familiar with Alan Moore’s work, I’d say the writers for this film no doubt have him as one of their major influences. I was also really surprised to discover that this movie was directed by Scorcese, since this movie didn’t contain any gangsters, guns, and was definitely not set in New York.
Hugo tells the tale of a young boy who lives in a train station in early 20th century Paris. His father was a clock maker and tinkerer, who enjoyed working with machines. Shortly before Hugo’s father passes away, he returns home with an autonomaton, or clockwork man, that was designed to write something but is broken. Hugo and his father set about fixing it. However, shortly before he is able to finish repairs, Hugo’s father dies in a fire, leaving Hugo in the care of his drunken uncle, who looks after the clocks at the Paris train station. Shortly after taking residence at the station, his drunken Uncle disappears, leaving Hugo to look after the clocks and himself. Despite the problems of a child trying to survive on his own, Hugo works away at the autonomaton, and hopes one day to fix it and discover the secret message it contains.
I was initially put off by some of the characters, who seem to be a little bit too exaggerated and were mildy annoying at the start. The girl who Hugo befriends, who has a propensity to use big words, came off more than a little bit annoying. Having said that, pretentious children with large vocabularies are like this, so I can’t fault the way she’s been written. I was also a bit unsure of the way Sasha Baron Cohen played the Station Inspector, but he grew on me as the film progressed. These characters initially seem unimportant at the start of the movie, but as the story develops key information is revealed that highlights how they fit in to the overall narrative.
In terms of the visuals, the movie is shot using a palette and lighting that makes it feel more at home with the likes of the early Harry Potter movies, or even the likes of Narnia. For a movie that doesn’t include any kind of magic (I use magic here loosely since this movie doesn’t contain any dragons, spells or wizards, it does have a lot of magic of a different kind) visually it definitely feels like one. I feel this was a very obvious move by Scorcese to hint at the actual magic that becomes the focus of the film later.
The plot of this movie does unfold very slowly at the start, but I think it’s done quite intentionally by Scorcese as an intentional curve ball. The first half an hour of this movie had me asking “Where is this going?” I will openly admit it even left me feeling a bit bored. However, once the secret of the autonomaton is revealed, it all comes together and it becomes a wonderful movie that draws from history to tell it’s story. By the end of the movie I felt all warm and fuzzy inside.
Movie Rating: Watch this now! (If it’s still on!)