4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Hugo(released Nov/11) stars Ben Kingsley as George Melies,Asa Butterfield as Hugo Cabret,Chloë Grace Moretz as Isabelle,Sacha Baron Cohen as Inspector Gustave,Jude Law as Hugo's father,Christopher Lee as Monsieur Labisse,and an astounding supporting cast of other actors.This is a nostalgic look back at film making's earliest days and how a young boy is the catalyst for one its most honoured creator's deserved return to the limelight.Beautifully photographed and set decorated,this piece almost immediately brings you into the film titled young boys life and world,and from there the adventure never stops building to its inevitable climax.
The story takes place,I would guess,in the late 20s.Hugo is a young boy living with his father,who works in a museum.Hugo has become a tinkerer of sorts,like his father,and both work together on repairing and bringing back to life an automaton Hugo's father claimed from the museum's basement.One night his father is fatally caught in a conflagration at the museum and Hugo is forced to go and live with his inebriated uncle.The uncle tends the clock works at the Gare Montparnasse,the central train station in Paris.And when his uncle is away,which is quite often,it is left up to Hugo to pick up the slack.Eventually his uncle is found dead,and he is left an orphan.
When Hugo has down time he works away at the automaton.He regularly scrounges parts from an old man who runs a small toy store in the train station.One day the man catches the boy and Hugo is forced to empty his pockets.Among the items the man confiscates is Hugo's diary which his father kept while working on the automaton.That night Hugo follows the man home and speaks to his young god-daughter,who promises to keep her father from burning the book and to help him get it back.
Next day Hugo is hired by the old man in the toy store to fix his toys.In return he says he will eventually return his book.One day Hugo takes the old mans god daughter to the movies(to which she has never been)and in return she introduces him to a local bookseller.Then Hugo introduces her to the automaton he has been trying to fix.In the process Hugo discovers she,coincidentally,has the heart shaped key that is needed to turn the machine on.The key is inserted and the machine comes to life.Hugo is expecting a message from his father but instead a drawing is made of a scene from an old film produced in the late 1800s by George Melies.They both return to the girls home and present the drawing to her god-mother who wants them to forget about it.Just then she hears her husband waking up and the children are shuffled into a side room.They search for the diary while in there and find a heavy box hidden in a secret drawer in the top of an old armoire.The chair she stands on collapses and the box and her come tumbling down.Papers scatter everywhere,but all have drawings from other scenes of Melies films.The old man enters the room and can only sit despondent at the supposed betrayal Hugo has perpetrated.
The children return to the bookseller wanting to know the best place to find books on old film making.They end up at a specific area at the local library and while reading one particular chapter in a book about George Melies,it dawns on them that her god-father is none other than George Melies himself.Suddenly a stranger appears behind them,who turns out to be the very author of the book they are reading.He asks about their interest in Melies and she tells him her god father is he.The author is incredulous but nonetheless takes the chance and returns home with the children.As soon as her god mother opens the door the author,who met both her and Melies when he was a child,recognizes her instantly.He expresses his gratitude for Mr.Melies inspiration,who is at the moment sleeping.Before parting he gently asks whether she would like to see one of her husbands works.She acquiesces and before long the projector is ticking away,frame by magical frame,the only known remaining print of a George Melies film.They all sit in amazement and when the film ends Mr Melies walks in on them.He instantly starts recalling in brief his career in film making with his wife,and the calamity that led to him having to sell his films for scrap and burning all his sets.He thought no one cared any longer.
Hugo excuses himself to return to the train station to retrieve the automaton.Along the way he gets arrested by a station gendarme who has been dogging him constantly.When Hugo fails to return promptly Mr Melies and his god daughter return to the station and rescue Hugo just in time.It turns out the automaton he and Hugos father work so judiciously on for so long,originally belonged to Melies himself,who was also a tinkerer and an inventor.He had donated the automaton to the museum,but when the fire destroyed it he assumed it has been lost also.
The film ends as the author introduces Melies to a packed audience,who are there to watch again Melies works that have been rediscovered and lovingly restored.Hugo has found a new home and life with the Melies family and the film fades out as we stare at the automaton;the very thing that brought a man and his son close together and has now brought Hugo a whole new life.
As much as the film is a children's adventure,it is also a marvelous educational tool.The film's own subject matter,the French film pioneer George Melie's and his works,which are on prominent display off and on throughout,are absolutely marvelous to look at.On top of this we have a myriad of references to stars of the 20s such as Douglas Fairbanks,Max Linder,Charly Chase,while we actually see Buster Keaton,Charlie Chaplin and especially Harold Lloyd doing his thing in Safety Last.We also get the point of the neglect of film over time and what we have lost,and what we need to do to protect it in order to ensure their longevity or just plain existence.The film also has some neat touches such as the guitar player in a band at the station,who more than likely is a Django Reinhardt reference.So much going on in this film,but all lovingly wrapped up in what essentially is a children's story.All players here do a fantastic job in their portrayals.
Technically speaking the film is its w/s a/r of 1:85:1 and is clear and crisp.The only extra is a making of featurette.
All in all a highly recommended film ,a children's adventure cunningly concealing a message about old cinema and its preservation.Well acted,well shot and well deserved of a place on your DVD shelf.
HUGO  [3D Blu-ray + 2D Blu-ray] [UK Release] A MAGICAL MASTERPIECE!
Welcome to a magical world of spectacular adventure! When wily and resourceful Hugo discovers a secret left by his father he unlocks a mystery and embarks on a quest that will transform those around him and lead to a safe and loving place he can call home. Academy Award® winning filmmaker Martin Scorsese invites you to experience a thrilling journey that critics are calling 'the stuff that dreams are made of.' – Peter Travers of Rolling Stone.
FILM FACT: The film was received with critical acclaim, with many critics praising the visuals, acting, and direction. At the 84th Academy Awards, Hugo won 5 Oscars — for Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Editing — and its eleven total nominations (including Best Picture) was the most for the evening. ‘Hugo’ was also nominated for eight BAFTAs and won two, and was nominated for three Golden Globe Awards, earning Scorsese his third Golden Globe Award for Best Director.
Cast: Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Sir Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helen McCrory, Michael Stuhlbarg, Jude Law, Ray Winstone, Sir Christopher Lee, Emily Mortimer, Frances de la Tour, Richard Griffiths, Marco Aponte, Kevin Eldon, Gulliver McGrath, Angus Barnett, Ben Addis, Emil Lager, Robert Gill, Michael Pitt (cameo), Martin Scorsese (cameo) and Brian Selznick (cameo)
Director: Martin Scorsese
Producers: Graham King, Johnny Depp, Martin Scorsese and Timothy Headington
Screenplay: John Logan
Composer: Howard Shore
Cinematography: Robert Richardson
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English: 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH
Running Time: 126 minutes
Region: Region B/2
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Entertainment in Video
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review – "The movies are our special place." So says the pensive, 12-year-old title character in 'Hugo,' and though most of us who go to movies blithely share this simple sentiment, director Martin Scorsese brilliantly and perceptively shows us why. His beguiling ode to the magic of cinema and the sense of wonder and community the art form inspires ranks as one of the director's greatest achievements (and that's saying something!). Flashy yet subtle, grand yet understated, 'Hugo' brought tears to my eyes, not because of any emotional plot development, but because this heart-warming film celebrates with grace and lyricism the personal connection we all have with film, and the important, intimate role it plays in all of our lives.
No other director could express these ideas more simply and with more potency than Scorsese, who infuses 'Hugo' with an uncharacteristic yet utterly charming warmth and innocence that augments its power and makes it resonate. And no other film encapsulates the essence of Scorsese - who he is and what he does - better than 'Hugo,' which ties together the director's passion for motion pictures (spawned from a lonely, challenging childhood, much like Hugo's) and his intense commitment to the cause of film preservation. 'Hugo' may start out as a tale of both an orphaned boy searching for a home and a bitter old man at war with the past, but it becomes a story about all of us and how movies collectively bond us through dreams. With ceaseless urgency, almost all humans strive to connect with someone or something – it's in our DNA and Martin Scorsese depicts how film often satisfies that innate, burning need, and consequently brings us joy.
Based on the Caldecott Medal winning novel by Brian Selznick, 'Hugo' chronicles the wide-eyed adventures of Hugo Cabret [Asa Butterfield], a young, penniless French boy who lives alone in the clock tower of a Paris train depot after his father dies and his guardian uncle goes off on a bender. Hugo leads a hand-to-mouth existence, swiping croissants and milk from station vendors, and stealing toys from a booth run by an austere elderly man [Sir Ben Kingsley]. Hugo deconstructs the toys and uses some of the parts to repair an automaton (a primitive robot) that his father, a clockmaker, purchased from a museum and the two worked on together. One day, the toy dealer catches Hugo red-handed and, as punishment, forces him to relinquish his prized notebook that contains diagrams outlining the automaton's mechanisms.
In an attempt to reclaim the notebook, Hugo comes in contact with the toy dealer's goddaughter, Isabelle [Chloë Grace Moretz], and the two embark on a voyage of discovery, each exposing the other to unexplored wonders. Isabelle opens Hugo's eyes to the world of books, while Hugo introduces Isabelle to movies. In an odd coincidence, Isabelle, quite literally, holds the key to the automaton, which in turn sheds light on the true avocation of her godfather, Georges Méliès, who they discover was a once-famous filmmaker. Georges Méliès, who's now forgotten, depressed, and impoverished, forms a tenuous bond with Hugo, who tries to help him, while continually evading the clutches of the tyrannical station inspector [Sacha Baron Cohen], who relishes sending stray children to the city orphanage. Though he's adept at fixing things, can Hugo repair the shambles of his own life, restore the reputation and self-esteem of Georges Méliès, and indirectly heal the crippled station inspector, who feels like half a man? It's a tall order, but Hugo, with the movies and the automaton on his side, proves he's up to the task.
There's a Dickensian air about the characters of 'Hugo,' especially the plucky urchin who's reminiscent of Oliver Twist that lends the film additional charm. Though many of the minor figures - a flower peddler [Emily Mortimer], café owner [Frances de la Tour), bumbling patron (Richard Griffiths), suspicious bookseller [Sir Christopher Lee], and Hugo's gruff, drunken uncle [Ray Winstone] - only play marginal roles, they're essential cogs in the film's wheel, and Scorsese treats them with respect. And in a further homage to the great movies of yore, we often witness their actions through Hugo's peering eyes, a la Alfred Hitchcock's 'Rear Window.' Martin Scorsese also beautifully incorporates into the story sequences Hugo himself views on film, such as comedian Harold Lloyd swinging from the hands of a clock tower, and tips his hat to Georges Méliès, by giving some shots, like the Paris skyline, a fantastical, animated look.
Just as Georges Méliès was an innovator in the early 20th century, Scorsese breaks ground today with his keen use of 3D, bringing what many still regard as a flamboyant, commercial fad into mainstream movie making. Never a distraction, the 3D images in 'Hugo' unfold naturally as a part of the story, enhancing impact and providing delicate shadings, while the more overt effects salute the showmanship of Georges Méliès by adding a whimsical playfulness to certain scenes. Film, 'Hugo' explains, is the essence of magic, and 3D, when employed judiciously, can be a vital aspect of the spell celluloid weaves. Scorsese, in his infinite wisdom, recognizes that, and Georges Méliès would have appreciated his perspective.
And anyone who truly appreciates classic beautiful films – what they do and say, and that is the care with which they're often made, and how they make us feel – and make us fall in love with 'Hugo.' There's a reason it received 11 Academy Award nominations and won five Oscars. And though, it's a shame Martin Scorsese himself didn't take home a gold statuette, he doesn't need the award to validate this amazing work. As Isabelle says in the film, "Thank you for the film today, it was a gift." And 'Hugo' is Martin Scorsese's gift to those of us who cherish movies. With respect, reverence, and a boyish enthusiasm that will never leave him, Martin Scorsese shows us that film was a magical, wondrous entity 100 years ago and it still is today.
Blu-ray Video Quality – Breath-taking is perhaps the best way to describe this reference quality transfer from Paramount. 'Hugo' won Oscars for its cinematography, art direction, and visual effects, and this often jaw-dropping beautiful 1080p encoded image effort showcases all those elements to perfection, while transforming the 3D presentation from gimmick to art form in the blink of an eye. The opening shot of the Paris skyline glistens like a newly minted penny, and sets the tone for the entire film. The pristine source material is practically devoid of grain, yet the image never loses its warmth and lushness, even during scenes that heavily rely on CGI effects. Clarity and contrast are exceptional (be sure and catch the reflection of the clock in Sir ben Kingsley's eye), and colours pop, thanks to marvellously modulated saturation. The bright blue of the station inspector's uniform, the flowers in Lisette's cart, the tinting on Georges Méliès's films...all these possess an intoxicating vibrancy and lushness.
Black levels are deep and inky, shadow detail is very good, and flesh tones remain stable and true throughout. The textures of fabrics are easily discernible, as are background details, and though a faint bit of shimmer afflicts a couple of patterns, the intricate designs on many costumes stay rock solid. Razor sharp close-ups accent the distinguishable facial features of the varied cast, including the automaton, which looks almost human.
The inspired use of 3D, however, sends this movie into the stratosphere. Seamlessly integrated into the film and astonishingly well defined, the 3D imagery takes us inside Hugo's world and into the captivating realm of cinema like no other picture I've seen before. And the effects are even more stunning in the home environment than in a theatre. The sense of depth and openness the 3D provides is truly amazing, as Hugo peers through bars, windows, and the through the hands of the clock. Various perspectives are heightened and spatial boundaries blurred, so we feel a part of the action. Details like snow, ash, steam, mist, and fireworks gently dance before us; a swinging pendulum cuts through the screen; the glistening snout of a growling Doberman Pinscher protrudes forward; sheets of paper float before our eyes; and, in my favourite dimensional shot, the Station Inspector slowly leans forward, lunging further and further and further and still further into the room, making his intimidating presence not just known, but felt, and making us recoil just a tad in response. Martin Scorsese also adds a hint of 3D to the inspired use of 3D, however, sends this movie into the stratosphere.
Seamlessly integrated into the film and astonishingly well defined, the 3D imagery takes us inside Hugo's world and into the captivating realm of cinema like no other picture I've seen before. And the effects are even more stunning in the home environment than in a theatre. The sense of depth and openness the 3D provides is truly amazing, as Hugo peers through bars, windows, and the through the hands of the clock. Various perspectives are heightened and spatial boundaries blurred, so we feel a part of the action. Details like snow, ash, steam, mist, and fireworks gently dance before us; a swinging pendulum cuts through the screen; the glistening snout of a growling Doberman Pinscher protrudes forward; sheets of paper float before our eyes; and, in my favourite dimensional shot, the Station Inspector slowly leans forward, lunging further and further and further and still further into the room, making his intimidating presence not just known, but felt, and making us recoil just a tad in response. Scorsese also adds a hint of 3D to the inspired use of 3D, however, sends this movie into the stratosphere. Seamlessly integrated into the film and astonishingly well defined, the 3D imagery takes us inside Hugo's world and into the captivating realm of cinema like no other picture I've seen before. And the effects are even more stunning in the home environment than in a theatre. The sense of depth and openness the 3D provides is truly amazing, as Hugo peers through bars, windows, and the through the hands of the clock.
Various perspectives are heightened and spatial boundaries blurred, so we feel a part of the action. Details like snow, ash, steam, mist, and fireworks gently dance before us; a swinging pendulum cuts through the screen; the glistening snout of a growling Doberman Pinscher protrudes forward; sheets of paper float before our eyes; and, in my favourite dimensional shot, the Station Inspector slowly leans forward, lunging further and further and further and still further into the room, making his intimidating presence not just known, but felt, and making us recoil just a tad in response. Scorsese also adds a hint of 3D to Georges Méliès's 'A Trip to the Moon' to make it even more magical. For someone who has never before waded into 3D waters, Martin Scorsese possesses a surprising mastery of the concept, knowing when to push limits and when to pull back. As much as the form dazzles and thrills me, I still find it hard not to regard 3D as some sort of trick or gimmick, but 'Hugo' comes closer than any other film I've seen to using 3D as an artistic tool rather than a commercial draw. And who better than Martin Scorsese to legitimize it and show off its true capabilities. 'A Trip to the Moon' to make it even more magical. For someone who has never before waded into 3D waters, Martin Scorsese possesses a surprising mastery of the concept, knowing when to push limits and when to pull back. As much as the form dazzles and thrills me, I still find it hard not to regard 3D as some sort of trick or gimmick, but 'Hugo' comes closer than any other film I've seen to using 3D as an artistic tool rather than a commercial draw. And who better than Martin Scorsese to legitimise it and show off its true capabilities. 'A Trip to the Moon' to make it even more magical. For someone who has never before waded into 3D waters, Martin Scorsese possesses a surprising mastery of the concept, knowing when to push limits and when to pull back. As much as the form dazzles and thrills me, I still find it hard not to regard 3D as some sort of trick or gimmick, but 'Hugo' comes closer than any other film I've seen to using 3D as an artistic tool rather than a commercial draw. And who better than Martin Scorsese to legitimize it and show off its true capabilities.
Aside from the aforementioned brief shimmers, no imperfections mar this exceptional transfer. No noise, banding, pixilation, or edge enhancement rears their ugly heads. Not everyone may be enthralled by the story of Hugo Cabret, but it's impossible not to be blown away by this impeccable 3D treatment that's truly a visual feast.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – Along with the reference quality video transfer comes a reference quality 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that's stunning in its clarity, precision, and level of detail. 'Hugo' possesses a rich audio fabric, juggling big moments and delicate nuances, yet all the sound is distinct, perfectly balanced, and awash in superior fidelity and fine tonal depth. From the opening frames, featuring the rhythmic interlocking of mechanical gears exquisitely apportioned among all the room's speakers, it's evident we're in for an aural treat, and the track never backs down over the course of the film. Superior dynamic range handles screeching highs and low rumbles with ease, and nary a hint of distortion creeps into the mix.
The surrounds are almost constantly engaged, as bits of detail gently flow from speaker to speaker. The hustle and bustle of the busy train station is especially well rendered, with footsteps, the rustling of clothing, steam, whistles, and rail sounds at once distinct and yet unified. The gears and clicks of the automaton are crisp and lively, the swoosh of flying papers floats about the room, and when the train crashes through the station the cacophony of destruction crashes through the speakers. Stereo separation across the front channels is also excellent, and bass frequencies are potent and perfectly integrated into the track's whole.
Howard Shore's gorgeous, Oscar-nominated score boasts exceptional presence and fidelity, caressing small moments and accenting big ones, yet never overwhelming the on-screen action. Dialogue is always well prioritized and easy to understand, and no surface noise or hiss intrude or distract. 'Hugo' won Academy Awards for sound editing and sound mixing, and this superbly clear, active, and immersive track makes it easy to understand why.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Includes 2D and 3D versions of the film
Documentary: Shoot The Moon [The Making of Hugo] [HD] [20:00] Martin Scorsese, screenwriter John Logan, members of the cast, and other creative personnel examine various aspects of the film's production in this interesting, yet standard, behind-the-scenes documentary. Glowing comments about Martin Scorsese are sprinkled throughout this piece, which covers the original book upon which 'Hugo' was based, casting, sets, working with dogs, and Martin Scorsese's attraction to and philosophy concerning 3D films and photography.
Documentary: The Mechanical Man at the Heart of ‘Hugo’ [HD] [13:00] The history of automatons, from their Greek and Arab origins up through their golden age at the turn of the 20th century, is explored in this informative documentary. Famous automaton makers are also discussed, and we learn about the design and intricacies of mechanics of the automaton used in 'Hugo.'
Documentary: Sacha Baron Cohen: Role of a Lifetime [HD] [4:00] This amusing spoof allows the comic actor the chance to display some temperament, as he talks about his disrespect for the script, the children with whom he worked, and most importantly, Martin Scorsese himself.
Documentary: The Cinemagician of Georges Méliès [HD] [16:00] This fond remembrance of one of film's pioneers and the father of narrative movies covers the artist's life, vision, and contributions to the industry he helped create. The great-great-granddaughter of Georges Méliès adds an intimate perspective, Scorsese talks about which Georges Méliès films he chose to recreate in 'Hugo' and other experts chime in on the innovations of his work.
Documentary: Big Effects, Small Scale [HD] [6:00] This documentary examines how technicians fashioned the shot of the locomotive crashing through the station facade, an actual event that occurred in Paris in the early 20th Century. Meticulous research, construction, and attention to detail all contributed to the effectiveness of this striking sequence in the film.
Preview: You get a long promotional video of ‘The Artist’ and because it is a silent film, there is of course no voice over advertising the film.
Finally, 'Hugo' will forever stand as my choice for Best Picture of 2011 and as another monumental achievement for director Martin Scorsese. At once an endearing family film and a fabulous 3D experience, 'Hugo' is most importantly a love letter to movies - those who make them and those who watch and revere them – produced by a man who does both. It will move, dazzle, and delight anyone who sees it, especially on 3D Blu-ray. This disc features top-of-the-line 3D video and reference quality lossless audio that combine to make 'Hugo' even more thrilling at home than it was in theatres, and a must own video release. A few more extras would have been nice, but this disc isn't about what's behind the screen; it's about what's on it. 'Hugo' is an exceptional film in any format, but if you can, you MUST view it in the stunning3D, as you won't forget it and the magic images you view will live forever and the opening shot of Paris with the snow falling down, and you will feel it is actually landing on your lounge carpet. I personally think this is the BEST film that Martin Scorsese has directed and he is such a passionate person in bringing Georges Méliès to life and especially to bring this silent film director to a new generation in showing that in the days of silent films, you could make spectacular films without CGI computer generating images and that is why I was so honoured and proud to add this brilliant beautiful Martin Scorsese film to my Blu-ray Collection. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom