Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) lost his dad and he is currently being overseen by his uncle or so he thought he was. Hugo lives alone at the train station where he regularly winds the clocks and steals to eat while avoiding the station’s inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen) and his dog. However, Hugo is accompanied by an Automaton that him and his dad (when alive) where fixing and now his goal is to finish it. Hugo had been stealing items from Georges Méliès (Ben Kingsley), the station’s toy shop owner, in order to scavenge mechanical pieces, but on one bad day he gets caught and his notebook is taken away. In an effort to get it back Hugo partners up with Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz) to get his notebook back, George’s goddaughter, but their adventure together will uncover something beyond their imagination.
Prior to watching the film I had been hearing a lot about Hugo, the comments and reviews where mixed, although mainly positive there were many that simply did not like the film. Obviously, I went in with zero expectations, perhaps is my way of avoiding being completely disappointed. Anyway, moving on. I watched the first 30 minutes and I am intrigued,.45 minutes have passed and I am still watching carefully. The movie is almost over and I’ve been won over by the charm of the story. I can tell you right off the bat that Hugo lends itself more as a tribute film than anything else. I feel that Martin Scorcese really captured this well with the style of the acting and the way the story was told. There were segments of the movie where things didn’t have to said for the viewer to understand what was going on. I have seen comments regarding the adaptation of the book, I can tell you that if you are waiting to see a word for word adaptation then you are in for a real disappointment. It’s really rare when Hollywood adapts a book and does it word for word. Redundancy is taken out (although key pieces are removed as well) and more often than not modifications are done to the way the story is told. That’s Hollywood.
Hugo’s story was pieced together very well. We see Hugo as he struggles to find his path and himself by trusting those around him. The adventure seen from the eyes of a lonely boy in his quest to hold on that one thing that still keeps him attached to his father is truly captivating. I can’t say the film is very active in regards to engage the audience, because I feel the film does drag a bit in certain segments, but I can see why there’s so much hype. I’ve read complaints over the actor’s having a British accent rather than French, sure that could be attributed to the list of “Could of done better” but honestly is that really an impediment to enjoy the film? Um, certainly not. If we wanted to always be politically correct filmmakers would have to spend too much time trying to figure out the correct accents for each of the films. It’s just not practical. However, I do think that trailers are a bit deceiving, I was expecting Hugo to be something else completely based on the way the trailers portrayed the film. I will say that there’s lots of talking and it takes a while for the main characters to make something happen. I guess that’s just the way many films are marketed, so word of caution. At the end of the day some will enjoy it more than others.
Hugo arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG4-AVC encode framed at 1.85:1. Right from the get go we see a wide view of Paris, beautifully rendered on the screen, was that an indication of how the rest of the movie might look? Yes! Hugo looks great from beginning to end. Colors appear natural and well rendered throughout with reds and blues standing out. Black levels are deep and inky, never overwhelming the picture. Detailing is excellent too, see the intricate textures of the clothes and the scuff marks on Hugo’s Atomaton. The image is very clean and sharp throughout. Skin tones look very lifelike. I can’t complain about this transfer, it just simply looks fantastic.
Hugo arrives on Blu-ray with a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless track. Just like the video transfer, the audio sounds great. The dialogue is clean and clear throughout. Directionality in the front speakers is excellent and the rears are used with good accuracy. The LFE output is used throughout with good balanced output. There’s great support from the bass and it is very noticeable during the scenes when the train(s) arrive at the station and you can hear the rumbling as it is moving down the tracks. Also, Hugo constantly winds the clocks and a small thump can be heard as the gears are being turned. Overall, Hugo sounds great on Blu-ray.
Shoot the Moon (The Making of Hugo)- Filmmakers and actors talk about the challenges of making Hugo.
The Cinemagician, Georges Melies – The filmmakers and descendants of George Melies talk about the cinematographer that paved the way for today’s art of movie making.
The Mechanical Man at the Heart of Hugo – The cast and crew talk about the automaton and the key role that it played in Hugo.
Big Effects, Small Scale – The filmmakers takes viewers behind the scenes to see how they came up with the effects of Hugo.
Sacha Baron Cohen: Role of a Lifetime – Cast and crew and Cohen himself talk about well Cohen. The crew talk about how much Cohen played hard to play during the shooting.
Hugo was hyped to no end leading up to the Academy Awards yesterday evening, clearly being one of the favorites. After watching the film I was satisfied by the time the credits began rolling. It’s a good film, it features a great story of friendship and self discovery which Martin Scorcese managed to capture on camera. The film is slow and well pieced together. The Blu-ray is technically excellent, from the video to the audio, there are no complaints. Hugo is also packed with great supplements that fans should consider visiting once the movie is over. I will say that Hugo can be slow and it will in turn cause some viewers walk away, but I stand by my word, Hugo is a great movie.