Monday, November 12, 2012

Off the Cuff Movie Reivew - Hugo

     Last weekend, on our family movie night we watched for the first time, Hugo, the Martin Scorsese film from last year. We all enjoyed it, in our own ways. My boys were very intrigued, which is surprising for the younger one. The movie takes its time setting up the plot and asking the questions which will be answered in the second act. Such slow pacing usually leaves my younger son bored and restless, but Hugo had him in rapt attention all the way through. The movie is certainly a visual treat, both the complex warrens of pipes and clockwork through which Hugo moves, and the cityscape of Paris, where the story takes place. I found Hugo to be an interesting if not greatly sympathetic character; he displays very little emotion throughout the film, even after being subjected to a very cruel trick by an adult. So, it should not surprise that the cruel trick is never mentioned again, and does not impair the development of Hugo's relationship with the adult. Several secondary characters with no relevance to the plot get a decent amount of screen time, and even the titular 'bad guy' gets enough development to be human instead of a card-stock villain. The tone is hard to describe; the film is neither lightly comic nor depressingly serious, although it takes stabs at being both. I also can't tell whether the target audience is children or adults; it may be best to say that it tries to appeal to both, and succeeds very nicely. I never felt much dramatic tension while watching the film, I always was aware that somehow it was going to have a happy ending, which it did. Hugo's appeal may lie in the quiet but skillful acting jobs of the main characters and the slow, tantalizing explanation of the central 'mystery' of the plot. Based on a (largely) picture book by Brian Selznick, descendant of David O. Selznick the famous movie producer, Hugo is a good film, at least on the first watching. Once you know the ending, I think the film may lose a lot of its' ability to keep the viewer engaged.

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