Sitting today wrapping Christmas presents I decided I needed a distraction, and what did Sky Anytime have in store for me? Martin Scorsese's 2011 movie 'Hugo'. Starring 'The Boy in Striped Pajamas'' Asa Butterfield, 'Hugo' was adapted from Brian Selznick's novel 'The Invention of Hugo Cabret', which is, I believe, based on the true story of Georges Melies, a french pioneer filmmaker. The summary given of the film on Amazon is this: "Hugo is the astonishing adventure of a wily and resourceful orphan boy whose quest to unlock a secret left to him by his father will transform Hugo and all those around him". I would say that's a pretty good description as there are quite a few layers to the story - reflected in the rather long run time of 126 minutes - however, I was very disappointed to see the film has only reached 3.5 stars on the website as I would say it was worth far more than this.
Butterfield puts in another fantastic performance and it always strikes me that he can act far beyond his years, easily and tactfully tackling tender subjects, such as the Holocaust in 'The Boy in Striped Pajamas' and orphanage in 'Hugo'. He really is a fantastic actor and I hope he'll continue to be brilliant in all of his future projects.
Another great actor in the film came in the form of the hilarious and incredibly versatile Sacha Baron Cohen as the Station Inspector. Cohen appears to have an unerring ability to act any role thrown at him, from the comical character of the Station Inspector in 'Hugo' (although he is also given tender moments, for example when explaining to Lisette how he came to have a permanently injured leg) to the evil Pirelli in 'Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street' and Thenardier in the upcoming 'Les Miserables' film.
This film is absolutely full of fantastic actors, Ben Kingsley, Jude Law and Ray Winstone are among those in addition to the above mentioned. And, despite having a relatively minor role, Jude Law's character has a huge influence on the story as Hugo's father; this element of the story is also absolutely heart breaking and, as always, Law is fantastic.
However, some people have said that this film shouldn't have been rated a U as some elements of it are a little scary. For example, a major part of the story are figures called automatons (shown below), basically miniature human figures made out of metal, kind of a cross between the robots in 'I-robot' and a Svengali doll, whose staring eyes are actually quite scary and, I imagine, could frighten any children watching the film without an adult. There are also a couple of scenes in which Hugo is dreaming which could scare younger viewers, and actually had me jumping out of my seat and yelling at the television, so perhaps it would have been better if the film was rated PG. But, if I'm honest, I think this is an unimportant detail.
The cinematography in this film was fantastic; scenes inside and outside clocks and panoramic views of Paris jump out at me as those which were the best scenic shots. It really is a beautiful film that was brilliantly put together, flowing seamlessly between different scenes, often following a running Hugo through the station or streets of Paris, which I really liked as it allows the viewer to feel as though they are part of the film. I suppose setting the film in a train station was also a key element in this as it would be entirely plausible to see the audience as passing strangers on their own journeys, simply taking a moment to stop and watch the events going on around them.
So basically, this is a fantastic film which I would highly recommend to anyone - don't be put off by the fact that it's a U if you're 'not into' kids films, this one really is brilliant and actually surprisingly complex for a children's movie. I was also very pleasantly surprised at the sneaky 'Les Mis' mention when young girl Isabelle announces "I feel like Jean Valjean" when on her way to the clock tower with Hugo; this pretty much made the film for me as I'm such a huge 'Les Miserables' fan.
I have decided since my last review that it would make sense for me to start rating the things I review out of ten as well, so for Hugo: 9/10.