"Hugo" (2011)

Hugo (2011)
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Running time: 126 minutes

Just as a quick mention first up, also Now Showing this week is Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. I feel I can summarise it as: yeah, it’s alright. A few hilarious moments, some awesome action sequences but the acknowledgement of the villain straight from the beginning, combined with the total lack of mystery with a simple terrorist plot, and you’ve got an average sequel to a good movie. Oh and also, Robert Downey Jnr’s blank-faced-yet-quirky-demeanor grew tiring by the end; so in the end I would say I had a good time, but it was an underwhelming experience.

And speaking of underwhelming experiences!

Now Showing this week is Hugo, a 3D film directed by film making veteran Martin Scorsese. Hugo (without spoiling too much) tells the story of a little orphan surprisingly named Hugo who lives inside the walls of a train station in Paris back in some unspecified time period that one assumes is past at least the first World War but also during some period of history when the world looked like a magical fairytale as well. Hugo is surviving by stealing his food from the merchants of the train station and is also collecting clockwork parts in order to repair an automaton that he and his father were working on prior to his death. The automaton is designed to write and Hugo believes it will write a message that was meant for his father. However, a grouchy clockwork merchant (Sir Ben Kingsley, naming his character would spoil the film) is angered on discovering Hugo is fixing this automaton, and Hugo is keen to find out why…

Let me begin with a positive note that this film looks more gorgeous than Yvonne Strahovski wearing nothing but floral paint (it’s out there, Google it). The colour schemes and the way the CGI locations blend with the actors is very beautiful to behold. Lots of gold and blue combine together to make a very shiny and majestic yet incredibly cold Parisian landscape. Also the 3D effects are actually quite good, which is rare in this day and age, some of the huge panning shots through the city were wonderful. Having said all this however, all these elements had me captivated for about the first ten minutes of this two hour film and I was hoping the narrative events would sustain me…..

Yeah, no.

Bored. That’s exactly how I would describe myself during the first two-thirds of this film: bored. My initial curiosity towards the automaton and Ben Kingsley’s mysterious hatred for it’s construction evaporated very quickly when the clunky exposition and the boring lead characters kicked in. Hugo and his cohort Isabelle are just uninteresting and are basically caricatures of the stock standard children’s film heroes: the young, “I love adventures” kind of children that seem unaffected by their down trodden landscape. In fact, the entire film (or at least the opening two-thirds) feels like the kind of film that would be a fantastic adventure for children but is outright boring for adults. Even Sacha Baron Cohen’s “villain” The Station Inspector is a classic trashy kid’s movie villain as he is practically not threatening and Hugo constantly foils him by making him slip over or end up in an awkward posture. And even Hugo’s father’s death was just pathetically stupid. Such a pivotal point in Hugo’s back story is made up of Jude Law simply opening a door in a museum and a really badly animated ball of fire engulfing the camera, then suddenly cut to Hugo’s uncle walk into the house and say “There was a fire, your father is dead.” I don’t know about anyone else who likes to use their brain to understand events that transpire, but what caused the fire? Giant fire balls don’t just happen you know, something must have happened! But the point, the important point, here is that all of this would not have phased me when I was a child and I watched films like this. A child would love this film, but I cannot understand why an adult would.

Back on the irritation of Hugo and Isabelle, it is really them that make this film such a stupid children’s film. They have simplistic logic and that somehow gets them by in this world. And the film itself adopts this stupid logic to push the story along! A certain man suddenly disregards his life belief that Ben Kingsley is dead simply because two random children tell him “because it’s true.” What kind of evidence is that?! These children are strangers to him and he is a scholar, and they are CHILDREN! I can understand leaps of faith, but come on people.

Anyway, the last third of the film picked up a little and became a semi-touching tale of the beauty of the visual arts. But the payoff is barely worth the boring opening two-thirds. I don’t know what the hell happened with this film critically, I think I must have seen a different movie to what everyone else saw.

See you next time!

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