Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Chloe Grace Moretz, Sacha Baron Cohen, Ray Winstone, Jude Law, Christopher Lee, Helen McCrory, Michael Stuhlbarg, Emily Mortimer, Frances de la Tour, Richard Griffiths, Marco Aponte, Emil Lager, Ben Addis, Robert Gill and Kevin Eldon.
Hugo is the 3D adventure drama movie based upon a brilliant book called The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. One of the best received movies from last year, it got 11 nominations at the Oscars winning 5 for Cinematography, Art Direction, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects. This is truly unlikely what Martin Scorsese have ever done before and honestly i wasn't very sure about this project. I thought this movie wont do much good because it is the first Scorsese movie that can be viewed by children and doesn't have any mobs and violence for which he is known. Reviews that it got were amazing and i was stunned too when i saw it. Scorsese is known for taking risk just to make movies sometimes that he truly wants to make and not caring about what his fan base would react to this different from usual project. But he does what his heart says and that is a true quality that i wish more and more directors should adapt.
Hugo Cabret is a 12 year old boy who lives with his widowed father who is a clockmaker in Paris. His father dies in a museum fire, Hugo's uncle takes him with him. He is a drunk man working in the railway station for maintaining the clocks. The uncle disappears one day which later turns out to be drowning, Hugo now lives on his own quietly away from everyone between the walls and in the clock tower. He have been around these things for his entire life so he knows how to fix the clocks thus the tower or any other clocks at the station doesn't ever need to be maintained by any one else or he would be caught. Hugo steals food and small mechanical parts for a ambitious project left by his dad called automaton which is a mechanical man who holds a pen, Hugo thinks he has a message from his father. A toy shop owner George Melies catches Hugo one day stealing from him and takes away the notebook from him, the notebook helped him repair the automaton. Hugo while one night decides to get the notebook back from him meets George's goddaughter Isabelle who decides to help him. George wants him to work at the shop until he is able to pay for all the things he stole. Hugo and Isabelle becomes friend, he takes her to the movies where his father use to take him but Isabelle wasn't allowed and Isabelle takes him to a bookstore. The automaton he was working on has a keyhole in the shape of the heart which he never found but Isabelle turns out to have that key to activate the automaton. It draws a scene from a movie that his father told him was the first movie that he ever saw (Voyage to the Moon) and there is a signature at the end of George, Isabelle's godfather. Jeanne is the wife of George who tells nothing about that to them and when George knocks at the door, she hides both if them in a room where they discover a hidden box with all the drawings of the movies. George becomes upset and throws Hugo out of his house. Both of them goes to the library reading a book on movies history where they discover George Melies to be the George Melies who made that movies and numerous others. The writer of that book there believes George died in the World War I but the children convince him that he is alive and to come and meet him and thus begins there effort to find out about why he left all that and became a simple Toy Shop owner.
Hugo isn't your typical movie about movies, the luxurious and troublesome life of the movie actors or about modern film making as a whole. But it is about something much more stronger and much more interesting aspect than that, it is about how movie making started and the exact history of it. Hugo shows us accurately and better than any of the other movies i have ever seen in my life did the past of the current modern technology in film making. George Melies as a film director who long lost his faith in cinema and art because of the circumstances created by people and war and Hugo a simple boy whose efforts kind of reawakens his belief and finds that long lost Melies in George. Overall it is a epic 3D family movie targeting the audience who wants to know about film history and it might not please the very younger audience because it is not for them unless they are cinema buffs and want to know all about it. Hugo is a breathtaking masterpiece and a work of top class and masterful film making by the ever brilliant Martin Scorsese. We all know how much he loves cinema and are aware of his selfless work in the preservation and restoration of lost cinematic work by the pioneers of the cinema. Hugo looks more like a personal movie of Martin Scorsese and more close to his heart and him than any of his other work. This is exactly what we know him for, he is was born and raised in a community just like the one he show in his movies like Goodfellas or Mean Streets. Music have been a great part of his life so he made some brilliant documentaries and projects on some of the biggest names in the music industry. He had love for the cinema and movies from his childhood so he transformed all that into his work later on.
From the very first scene of the movie, we are taken into this world which looks so much different than ours but still holds the exact same life and emotions. We see the long shot of the city of Paris from very far and slowly the camera moves closer and closer toward the station and suddenly we are in the station passing through the people and between the trains towards the clock tower where we see a person looking down at everyone from above which obviously is Hugo. That has to be one of the best shots i have ever seen in my life and is done amazing and beautifully by the cinematographer, throughout the movie cinematography plays this important role in making us feel closer and more closer to that city, that era and the lives of people. In many scenes, Scorsese makes us see things from our own eyes in a way Hugo does peeking from the clock tower and we feel this command at watching people and daily life of people of that times with our own eyes without them knowing. I was one of the few people who appreciated the brilliant Visual Effects of this movie from the very start and praised the stunning masterful work. It was my favorite for the Oscar but people were in love with the Apes. The work of Visual Effects in the movie makes a important role in bringing us closer to the life and making our experience of Paris quite real and much more closer than ever. During the entire movie, there lies this amazingly haunting in a good way and atmospheric feel in the movie that i don't think a movie with a real Paris would even hold. That is something a art, literature or a classic cinema fanatic would agree on and identify it.
Just like the cinematography or the visual effects department, Art Direction is another key area which has to be at the utmost perfection and it is here with no doubt the best work from last year. Hugo is one of those rare movies that masters each and every technical department, it did in every single one of them which in its own is a big achievement. Costumes are amazing and so is the sound i mean you name it. There is a dream sequence which has to be one of my favorite scenes from any movie i have seen last year where Hugo drops the automaton on the railway tracks and while he jumps on the tracks to get it, suddenly a train is coming towards him. The engineers and workers on the train spots him and tries to stop the train but just can't and it overruns on him and the station. We see people running scared and crazy away and things throwing on them by the train like a perfect disaster sequence and suddenly Hugo wakes up. But only to hear something unusual, he hears a ticking sound coming from his heart. He unbuttons his shirt to see his mechanical body just like the automaton and suddenly his hands, feet and face turns like him but suddenly he wakes up and this time he actually wakes up. That scene holds so much of beauty, destruction, human feelings, human psych and excitement in general that i just can't seem to describe the stunning sheer beauty of it in words. Asa Butterfield as Hugo Cabret is flawless, that has to be my favorite performance by a young actor from last year beside Hunter McCracken in The Tree of Life. His innocence and his grown up side are just both visible in this movie and carried out perfectly. Chloe Grace Moretz did a nice performance too and so did Sacha Baron Cohen who lights up the screen with his superb comical acting in those few parts. I think the best performance was by Ben Kingsley hands down as the aged long lost beloved Filmmaker. Few other notable actors have limited screen presence and i wished their character should have been incorporated more in the movie.
I have been hearing this the entire time that Hugo had the best use of 3D from both audience and specially Critics. I mean of course, give a masterclass director like Scorsese a chance to work with the modern technology, he'll use it for good and not like the other crappy moneymakers. I wish i have seen it in 3D but i can only imagine how well 3D would have made my movie experience a lot more stunning than it already was. This stunning masterpiece has to be one of the best movies i have ever seen.