Hugo arrives at blu ray with MPEG-4 AVC 1080p 1.78:1 encode. This transfer is beautifully detailed. Clarity is astonishing. Details far and wide -- whether in the train station or as seen in the overhead shots of Paris -- are spectacularly sharp and crisp. Close-up detailing is even more amazing. Not only are facial texture marvellous and clothing textures faultless, but the transfer's ability to capture and display the finest little nuances of worn gears, rusted metal, scuffed floors, and rough bricks is outstanding. The black levels appear naturally and deeply inky, with detail quality coming across with seriously impressive textural punch, and colour accuracy also well-defined. Simply a magnificent transfer. (5/5)
Hugo's DTS-HD MA 7.1 lossless soundtrack makes full use of the entire stage -- the extra two surround channels included -- to create a seamless sound field that creates with great clarity and attention to detail the Paris train station, the mechanical objects, and other niceties scattered throughout the picture. Music delivery is perfectly spaced and immersive, playing with superb clarity as each note floats effortlessly into the listening area. Dialogue is clear and accurate. Dynamic range is unbelievable, with tremendous fidelity. Another great soundtrack from Howard Shore, who should have won the Oscar for Best Original Score. (5/5)
TRIVIA AND GOOFS:
This movie has a budget of $170 million, but so far to date, the gross receipt is only $106 million. (The Artist grossed even much less!) Losing the Best Picture Oscar to The Artist reminds me of the top grossing picture of all-time Avatar losing to The Hurt Locker in 2010.
This is Martin Scorsese's first PG rated film in 18 years, and his first feature film in twelve years not starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
The Eiffel Tower was (and still is) the tallest building in France, and dominates the skyline of Paris. Yet when Hugo and Isabelle are at the top of the clock tower at the station, the camera clearly looks DOWN at the top of the tower.
The movie is set in 1931. But the Django Reinhardt character is shown with a Selmer Maccaferri oval-hole guitar, which was not introduced until 1936. Also, he looks a bit older than the real Django, who would have been just barely 21.
The accordionist in the film is shown with a piano accordion, but Parisian accordionist in those days almost exclusively played the chromatic button accordion, and most still do.
When Hugo and Isabelle talk in the street outside her apartment, they are shivering and it is snowing but we cannot see their breath, revealing the scene was probably shot in the studio.
When the automaton is drawing the image, it begins by dipping the pen in an inkwell, and the nib emerges with black ink clearly seen on it. However, subsequent closeups of the pen show the nib dry, and a black pencil lead can be seen beneath the nib, which is what actually creates the marks on the paper.
Some people wondered whether Johnny Depp played a cameo as a band member. The answer is No. Johnny Depp was a producer on the film and was offered a cameo part, but he was busy at the time. The actor playing Django Reinhardt is as stated in the credits: Emil Lager, who does look a bit like Johnny Depp.
This movie was nominated for 11 Oscars, and deservedly won 5 Oscars (mostly on the technical side): Best Cinematography (Robert Richardson's gorgeous works demonstrated vividly in this blu ray release), Best Art Direction, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing (as demonstrated in the audio) and Best Visual Effects. I personally feel that Howard Shore deserved the Oscar for Best Original Score.
Hugo is a wonderful movie. The actors are all great (like Asa Butterfield as Hugo Cabret, Ben Kingsley as George Melies, Sacha Baron Cohen as the Station Inspector, Chloë Grace Moretz as Isabelle, Christopher (Count Dracula) Lee as Monsieur Labisse and Jude Law as Hugo's father). The first half of the movie was a little slow, but the fantastic video and immersive music and sound effects will keep you mesmerized. In my opinion, Hugo should have won the Best Picture Oscar, while Howard Shore should get the Best Original Score Oscar. This movie is very highly recommended for all...young and old! I hope the above review is helpful to you.
One of my favorite Oscar moments a few years ago came when after a highly distinguished career, fellow directors Spielberg, Lucas, and Coppola finally presented Scorsese with his first and long overdue directing Oscar for The Departed.
Throughout an illustrious directing career, Scorsese has directed some of the most critically acclaimed movies ever made, such as Raging Bull, Cape Fear, Goodfellas, The Aviator, and many many more.
Not only is he a great director, he is also a tremendous movie scholar, responsible for keeping in circulation classic movies such as Thief of Bagdad, a 1941 masterpiece, which influenced him, Coppola and Lucas, and the classic Red Shoes by Powell and Pressburger.
In addition he lectures in University on the movies, and you can get his dvd A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies, which explores movies by well known directors of the past such as King Vidor, Fritz Lang, Cecil DeMille. Watching this made me realise the importance and contribution of the director.
Hugo leads the Academy award nominations list this year with 11 nominations, closely followed by The Artist with 10, Warhorse, The Descendants, Midnight in Paris, all outstanding movies. Nominations for Hugo include Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
As the movie begins, in one extended shot we zoom through a bustling Paris railway station in 1931, and you become instantly aware that this is no ordinary movie. We meet a 12 year old urchin named Hugo who lives there. Circumstance has committed him to winding and repairing the clocks, and scrabbling for survival as a railway urchin, and we notice that he has a tremendous gift for repairing gadgets, be it watches, clockwork toys, or automatons. Although the story appears to be about a boy, it quickly morphs into a dual story as he comes into contact with a store owner in the station, from whom he steals, and his young granddaughter who befriends him. Secondary stories develop with various other characters at the station.
The store owner played by Ben Kingsley is based on a real life character George Melies, and the story develops in simply amazing ways, and the urchin combines with a young girl to reveal a mystery to which she holds the key, a boy, a girl, an automaton, movie magic, and the story works in wonderful ways.
I saw it in 3D and I believe this is the best way to watch, so see it if you can while it is still in the movies. As you watch the movie moves ticks along like clockwork, and we have extensive intricate imagery that I was at times simply in awe as I watched the movie, we have crosscutting between the events of the time, and silent movies, with parallellism and repetition from classic movies occurring in the actual story. This is where Scorsese's scholarship and love of the movies shows through, as the the two children meet a movie scholar who looks a little like Scorsese, and ultimately the movie becomes a homage to cinematic genius.
Ben Kingsley does an extraordinary acting job, and I was particulaly gripped by one emotional moment few actors could do with the same effect. As you watch this movie, if you're like me you become totally transported, some of the imagery and ticking sound effects remain with me even as I write.
One thing I notice about Hollywood movies set in France in France is the convention of hiring using English actors to play French parts, and using American actors with English accents. Interesting. It turns out that Martin Scorsese and I share the same birthday so we share a little more in common than a love of the movies. I highly recommend this movie. It's quite spectacular.
Post awards update. Hugo won five Oscars for Cinematography, Art Direction, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects. Certainly, what Scorsese did with this movie merited the award for Best Director. Almost always Best Picture and Director go to the same movie. On only one or two occasions has this not happened in 84 years.
In my opinion, what Scorsese accomplished as director of this movie, and the attention to the most intricate of details was unmatched by any other director this year. I say that even though I totally love The Artist.
I think you will love it, and I hope this was helpful.
on January 17, 2014
It feels to me like Shutter Island was a definitive time in Martin Scorsese's career. Not only did it mark the director's first tackle into a suspense/eerie story (if memory serves), but his following film, Hugo, sealed his decision to truly better himself by offering us something we've rarely seen before: childhood through his eyes.
Hugo is a real achievement. A film about film, one that would have deserved much more awards than this. The child actors give nuanced, even mature performances at times, the background, storyline and overall film truly mesmerize the senses. Having recently seen Méliès' "Voyage to the Moon", Hugo's distinct homage to cinema's first filmmaker made Martin Scorsese's picture all the more important. This passing of age story has action, acting, special effects, costumes, touching moments and many more for everyone to marvel at.
Sadly, the special features are quite short and consist only of a few featurettes that total a running time of 56 minutes. An insult to this great production, and to make matters worse, several of those featurettes are not that interesting, feeling more like an EPK material, which makes no sense given that you've already bought or rented the movie in the first place, so selling an already bought film... you know...
This is a unique combination of the way the story is told as an interweaving of a fictional protagonist to tell the story of a real life person. I have seen the formula of interweaving reality with a fictional character before; one of the most famous is "Sophie's World" by Jostein Gaarder.
Any way the basic story is of a child that loses his father and thinks that his father left him a message that will change his life. In the process of perusing the message he meets Georges Méliès who may just have a message to change the reader's life.
The book incorporated a lot of pictures to help tell the story. This is innovative and holds your attention. However it did not translate well into the film as the film was slow and dragged a lot in scenes and even dialog. They lost the continuity and purpose of the story by incorporating the station inspector story that was a minor part of the book. It was too slapstick. What was great graphics in the book translated in almost cartoonish graphics in the film. However they did an excellent presentation of how the original films were designed to show us the stuff that dreams were made of.
The flat screen version was well enough. The 3D graphics were sort of gimmicky sort of looking through a stereoscope; however they were several fields deep.
So we have some unnecessary story added and some slow dragging parts but in the end the feel of the original book shines through.
on October 2, 2013
One of the best 3D movies I have seen at home.
Quality is exceptional and the film is very entertaining.
on May 17, 2014
I’ve given a rating of 4 because it is an excellent movie
A very good movie can be viewed by the whole family.
But I feel that is more for kids 11 years and older.
I would recommend viewing by the whole family.
on February 3, 2016
All the hype raised my expectations too high, I guess. I'm not saying I didn't like it but, hey, ten bucks and it's yours. And don't forget, it's 3d.
on February 6, 2016
a great movie in 2d, even better in 3d. the two children deserved (at least) oscar nominations for their stellar performances.
Martin Scorsese's latest film is wonderful entertainment for all ages, with everything a great family film should have: a warmhearted story with drama and suspense, a cartoonish villain who turns out to be human after all, appealing characters played with just the right balance between simplicity and psychological realism, even scene-stealing dogs and a happy ending. It is also visually spectacular, even without 3D (i haven't seen this film in a theatre). The period detail is impeccable, yet with a strong sense throughout that magic is afoot. Right from the opening shot, the special effects are state-of-the-art and always integral to the story.
Yet this is more than a family film. For one thing, it is rich in details that only sophisticated viewers will notice, such as the fleeting apparitions of James Joyce and Salvador Dali. (Unlike Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, which is set in the same city and period, this film does not focus on the now-famous artists and writers who gathered there in the 1920s.) But above all, it's a direct celebration of the magic of movies -- specifically of Georges Méliès, who began as a 19th-century stage magician with a brilliant mechanical sense, and went on to discover new ways of using machines to create illusions.
This is of course an homage to a film pioneer, paid by a director with an encyclopedic knowledge of (and respect for) the cinematic art and its history. But it's also a strikingly original take on machines, a counterpoint to classics like Chaplin's Modern Times or Fritz Lang's Metropolis, where giant machines represent everything that stifles creativity and life. Ever since William Blake, the vision of the universe as a vast machine has only seemed vastly evil, or at least depressing, to most of us. That feeling also comes across in Hugo, but only briefly, as a fleeting nightmare. Hugo himself is driven by the opposite feeling. As he says in the middle of the film, he is deeply attracted to the idea of the universe as a machine, because machines come without any useless parts, and that means that every life -- including his own -- must have a purpose. His immediate purpose is to fix the mysterious automaton his father has left him -- but that only leads him to a deeper purpose (which of course i won't reveal to those who haven't seen the film.)
Entertaining as it is, this film too leads us deeper into the paradoxes involved in human relations with technology. The many extras included on the blu-ray in this combo package offer plenty of insight into the history, artistry and technology behind the film. Viewers who are philosophically inclined will find further entertainment in pondering the paradoxes involved in the meshing of machinery and creativity, perhaps also of illusion and reality. In short, there's plenty here for everyone who likes movies.
on February 24, 2012
I don't like 3D at all. I mean, I will forgo seeing a movie if it's only offered in 3D. I find that the 3D technology adds nothing to the plot, story, or characterization: it makes the screen darker and leaves one with tired eyes and a headache. It seems to be merely technological amusement for the tekkies who create it, like free-form jazz jams, which are music for the players, not the listeners, simply self-indulgent noodling. I could think of only two movies I have seen in which 3D added to the experience: "Coraline," and "Avatar." Then I saw "Hugo."
My (12 year old) son loved the book, and could not wait to see the movie. He is also no fan of 3D, btw. We both thought this movie was fantastic. The 3D, rather than distracting or annoying, actually enhanced the viewing experience. The opening long shot coming in over the city and flying through to the train station platform was amazing. While mostly following the story of the book, this is truly a movie about making movies; and Scorsese has his Hitchcock moment.
You, and your kids, will love this movie; but make sure they read the book first!