Brian Selznick's novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret has been turned into a fascinating Martin Scorsese extravaganza, and all that comes with that transformation. Hugo is a 3-D adventure that topped the Cinema listings in Christmas 2011, and has been showered with numerous Oscar nominations. It chronicles the travels of a clever boy who wants to discover the secret of his father left him, but what if that mystery, one solved, transforms the boy and everyone else around him? On top of this, the setting is the early days of cinema, and all the mystery and promise that the movie media was bringing to society, and to the human mind.
But what the movie is really about is the place of imagination in everyone's life, not just that of young boys like Hugo. The ensemble of actors for this project actually meshes extremely well with the big-budget, at times effects heavy saga instead of being swallowed up by the epic production. Particularly helpful is Ben Kingsley as Papa, as well as Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Christopher Lee. Audiences checking the Aberdeen cinema listings or the DVD shelves will scarcely be disappointed if they choose this piece of movie wizardry for their entertainment.
Critics have been very impressed by Hugo overall, although some wonder is this simply Scorsese's one attempt to pull off a Steven Spielberg, and say "me too, I can do exuberant, magical filmmaking for the family too!" Those who are into excitement and the wonder of adventure, and the making of movies will not mind, while others more familiar with Scorsese's grizzly fare like Cape Fear or the Departed will pine for him to get bloody again. Whenever your movie tastes, you're likely to be dazzled by the way this movie moves from sequence to sequence, and the 3-D effects used to make things even more exciting.
With this set off a trend in Hollywood, similar to actors who take on roles against type, of directors who take on projects that turn their reputation on its head? Will Quentin Tarantino do a musical? How about M. Night Shyamalan doing a romantic comedy? Can Pixar do a slasher horror film? And so on, the possibilities are unsettling or glorious depending on your perspective. Simply as a matter of reviewing all the Oscar nominees, you should definitely give Hugo a look – and for once, you can bring your family to see a "serious" Academy award contender.
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