By Charlie David Page
8th January 2012

'Hugo' has received quite an amount of critical acclaim, and numerous nominations in the lead-up to the awards season. It's a movie that's expected to tug at the heartstrings and take you on a wild adventure - but not everything is quite as it seems with this film.

Martin Scorsese's latest offering, 'Hugo', aims to take the viewers into a new world along side the titular character, Hugo Cabaret (played onscreen by Asa Butterfield). It is, however, also a journey for Scorsese, as he ventures into the previously unexplored territories of 3D and motion capture. It's an intrepid adventure, which he largely pulls off, with the film looking beautiful throughout. There's a great opening sequence which takes you on a 3D tour of the Gare Montparnasse; 1930s Paris has never looked so good.

Despite these well-utilised aesthetics, there's a strong argument that this is yet another film that uses 3D as a gimmick, rather than actually changing the quality of the movie. With recent films such as 'The Adventures of Tintin' proving that the technology can actually be put to good use, it's a shame to say that 'Hugo' doesn't quite hit this mark.


Based on the book, ‘The Invention of Hugo Cabaret’ by Brian Selznick, the film's storyline discusses the magic of movies: “If you ever wonder where your dreams come from, look around: this is where they're made,” Ben Kingsley’s George muses in the film. The history of the cinema is a huge part of this film, which Scorsese has certainly glorified, much to the pleasure of many film buffs.

Your average audience member, however, may not necessarily agree. Even though it might look like it, 'Hugo' is not strictly a film for kids. The storyline is too in-depth and complex for youngsters to follow – there's too much history, when the truly interesting storyline lies in the adventures of Hugo and his friend, Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), which takes a back seat in this movie. This is more likely to be a film kids will watch once and never see again.

The two young leads are great - Asa Butterfield as Hugo balances the character’s emotion fantastically, and Chloë Grace Moretz is a delight to watch on screen – she’s grown up a lot since ‘Kick-Ass’. Helen McCrory is also brilliant as Mama Jeanne – an under-utilised role in the film.

In the end, 'Hugo' is about people's roles in life - what you do with what you're given, and whether you can make the best of your situation. Though the story can be a little slow at times, and doesn't necessarily move all too far once it does get underway, this film is certainly worth a look for its performances and the stunning Paris in 3D - just don't expect a rollicking children's adventure.

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