Visiting my dad this week.  I get my love of movies from him, so it’s a given that we’ll go see a movie any time I come to visit.  My suggestion was the new Sherlock Holmes, but when we got to the theatre it didn’t start for another hour.  Hugo, on the other hand, started in 10 minutes.  Both of us had heard very good things about it, so we decided to go despite the fact that the 9 year old step brother wasn’t with us.  

hugo poster

 I went into the movie with absolutely no expectations.  Beyond the fact that Rotten Tomatoes gave it nearly %100, I knew almost nothing about the movie.  I knew it had Jude Law, which in all honesty was enough for me to be interested.  That being said, the one trailer I saw for it gave me a distinct “fantasy kids adventure” vibe, so I was expecting something along those lines. 

This was actually my first 3D experience in a very long while.  The last 3D film I saw was The Nightmare Before Christmas when they released that in 3D ages ago, and it wasn’t very good and gave me a headache.  I was somewhat nervous for this one then.  The trailers were actually also in 3D and I was instantly impressed, as was my father (same 3D experience as me in the past).  When we got to the movie, the 3D integrated so perfectly that you stopped thinking about it, which, in my humble opinion, is really the mark of a good film trick.  You don’t want it constantly calling attention to itself. But it was beautifully done.  Which was very good, because it would have been a travesty to distract from the beautiful cinematography of this movie.

For all you steampunk enthusiasts out there, there are enough gears and springs and wheels in this movie to keep you content for a great long while to come.   The entire movie revolves around a clockwork automaton and they really work with the feel of that kind of machinery.  But where I thought it would be a fantastical or magical story about this clockwork doll, it ended up being something quite different.  Without giving too much away (though it isn’t a film that depends on plot twists to maintain interest), the movie is not a fantasy at all, but rather an homage to early cinema.  

 Ben Kingsley turns in yet another stellar performance, managing to be stern and cold yet still retain audience

hugo companionsympathy.  I really love that man more and more with every film in which I see him.   And I was blown away by the acting of the title character Hugo, played by Asa Butterfield.  This is the boy with the piercing blue eyes who gets to play Jude Law’s son (oh yeah, don’t get your hopes up too much ladies–Mr. Law is only onscreen for a very short while).  You all might recognize the name as the boy who has finally been cast to play Ender.  I’ve been despondent that any child actor could ever do that part justice, but after watching Master Butterfield I am 100% more hopeful about that particular movie.  The little girl who played opposite him was actually pretty good as well.  You may recognize a couple of Harry Potter veterans picking up fun little extra roles, and the perennially irritating Sacha Baron Cohen was actually pretty great as the over-zealous Station Inspector.  

Also, when you watch this movie, be sure to pay attention to the fabulous score by Howard Shore.  The movie is set in Paris in the 1930’s and the nod to contemporary music was just fantastic.  I’ll be purchasing the soundtrack very soon.  What I really liked was how well integrated the music was–occasionally overt, but usually very subtle and discreet.  

Overall I would definitely suggest this movie.  My only warning is that you shouldn’t go expecting a great fantasy adventure.  That’s not what this movie is, and if you go with that in mind you may be disappointed.  Instead, go prepared for a beautiful and poignant bit of nostalgia and reminiscing.  Do that and I guarantee you’ll love Hugo.