Thursday, June 18, 2015

What-to-Watch Wednesday - Hugo (2011)

The recent news about Asa Butterfield being a lead contender for the role of Spider-man got me thinking about the first movie I noticed him in: Martin Scorsese's Hugo.  He plays the title character, a young orphan living in the clockworks of a Paris train station.  As he maintains the station's clocks, pilfering food where he can, Hugo searches for mechanical pieces to repair an automaton he and his father had been working on at the time of his father's death.  Notes made about the automaton by Hugo's father were kept in a notebook, which Hugo protects like a precious heirloom.

Most of the pieces he needs he steals from a crotchety toymaker, who has a booth in the station.  When Hugo is inevitably caught by the toymaker, he loses his notebook to him and is forced into servitude to pay for the stolen pieces and hopefully have his father's notebook returned.

Of course, Hugo and the toymaker begin to bond.  And, of course, this leads to Hugo gaining a new family through various trials and tribulations.  The plot of the film offers nothing new for the audience, but few film plots do.  What it does offer is a lot of charm, visual imagination, and a great love for the history of cinema.

The theatrical release of the film offered showings in 3D.  And, unlike most movies in which 3D is a cheap gimmick, Scorsese uses it to advance the story and accentuate the experiences of the characters.  When I first saw it in the theater, I marvelled at the visual feast I was taking in and got completely lost in this re-imagined Paris landscape.

Hugo is a wonderful family film in the truest sense of the term.  It has something for every member of the family from the youngest to the oldest.  You won't be disappointed.


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