on 22 November 2015
Directed by Martin Scorsese and produced by Johnny Depp, Hugo tells the tale of an orphaned boy as he discovers the secret of an automaton that was left to him by his father. Is this movie another Oscar contender for Scorsese? I’m predicting, yes.
Once upon a time in the 1930′s, a young orphan boy named Hugo Cabret, lives in the walls of a train station in Paris. He winds the clocks and surveys over the people as they go about their daily routines. His interactions with the people of the station usually involves Hugo having to steal food to survive. But that is not the only thing he steals. Hugo routinely takes gears and other mechanical parts from an elderly man who runs a toys shop, in order to repair an automaton left to him when his father died. One day, Hugo is caught by the store owner, Georges, who makes him empty his pockets of stolen gears and a very special notebook, a notebook so special that the elderly man is emotionally shaken up just from flipping through the pages. Georges confiscates the notebook and goes home. Hugo, very upset as the notebook is his only property, demands the return, but it falls on Georges’ deaf ears.
Then next day, Hugo returns to the toy shop to once again plead for his notebook. Georges says he might return it under the condition that Hugo works for him. It is through the interactions with Georges that Hugo meets his god daughter, Isabelle. She loves to read and use big words, and she is curious about Hugo. She promises to help retrieve the notebook as long as Hugo agrees to go on adventures with her. Reluctantly, Hugo agrees. Together Hugo and Isabelle try to unlock the mystery of the automaton and why Isabelle is the only one that holds onto the key to turn it on.
After viewing the trailer, I went into Hugo with the expectations that it would be a type of Lemony Snickets wacky orphan adventure. And at first I was correct. But then the movie evolved and turned into a marvelous example of storytelling at it’s finest. Hugo became a complex, machine-like interweaving of characters and situations. Each person had a purpose, and their subplots fit together like pieces of a puzzle. Let me apologize right now for being enigmatic, but I cannot give away exactly where the movie takes you. I want you to be surprised as I was when it is revealed onscreen. Just pay attention to subtle clues.
Asa Butterfield (Nanny McPhee Returns) plays Hugo and Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass) plays Isabelle. They worked well together on screen with each one adding to their sense of wonderment. Imagine it as an entitled girl and Oliver Twist teaching each other about life. But the standout performances are by Ben Kingsley (Shutter Island, Gandhi) as Georges and Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, Brüno) as the Station Inspector. Kingsley as always gives a brilliant performance. And due to the series of events in the film, you see his character transform. The same goes for Cohen: initially I thought of him as the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, as it seemed that his only purpose was to wrangle up orphaned children to turn them into the police but, like all the other characters he too makes you change your opinion of him.
Hugo is directed by one of the greatest in cinema, Martin Scorsese. Based upon the novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick, this film is a complete departure from past movies of his like, Raging Bull, Good Fellas, and The Departed. The only thing in common is the fascinating character development. Hugo is Scorsese’s masterful love letter to cinema. Instead of blood, guts and gangsters, Scorsese takes you on an illusional roller coaster of wonderment and emotions, almost like a magic trick. He tells the story from so many angles and narratives that it all comes together in the end. The movie also comes together with help from multiple Academy Award winners: Composer Howard Shore (Lord of the Rings trilogy) and Cinematographer Robert Richardson (Shutter Island, JFK). Together, these three completely submerge you into the story and atmosphere of Paris during the 1930′s.
Hugo is offered in 3D. Unlike the gimmicky use of the technology to add money to the box office, or have things fly at you in a horror movie, the 3D is actually necessary for not only the look and feel of the movie, but as part of the story telling as well. The 3D makes Hugo such an amazing and stunning movie to watch; there is one scene where the Station Inspector is actually coming at the audience in a very uncomfortable close up. Almost as if you was Hugo himself dealing with the inquisition of Cohen’s character. And as for a testimonial for the 3D in this movie, Avatar’s director, James Cameron said, ” the movie is magical…It’s like a 16-cylinder Bugatti firing on all cylinders, and the 3D is one of those cylinders…It’s absolutely the best 3D photography that I’ve seen.”
Hugo is an amazing journey that any cinephile will absolutely adore. Throughout the film I smiled, got choked up, and even became teary eyed. I left Hugo with the justification on why I love going to the movies. However, the only flaw I could come up with is that I think this movie will have completely polar opposite opinions. Some will find it long and dull, while others like myself will leave the theater almost speechless. The movie is rated PG, which may be a bit misleading if you may think this is a children’s film. While there is no strong language, violence or sexuality, children may have a difficult time following along with the adult story. However all ages will be amazed by the visuals. I am going on record right now that this film will get a ton of Oscar nominations, for direction, cinematography, set design, costumes, and possibly Ben Kingsley or Sacha Baron Cohen for supporting actor. I may sound like a broken record, but Hugo is an absolute masterpiece that I absolutely highly recommend seeing at the theater and in 3D. Movies like Hugo are why motion pictures were invented.
on 11 August 2014
HUGO  [3D Blu-ray + 2D Blu-ray] A Magical Masterpiece! Unlock The Secret! A Spectacular 3-D Film!
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: Awards and Nominations: 84th Academy Awards®: Won: Best Cinematography for Robert Richardson. Won: Best Art Direction for Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo. Won: Best Visual Effects for Robert Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossmann and Alex Henning. Won: Best Sound Editing for Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty. Won: Best Sound Mixing for Tom Fleischman and John Midgley. Nominated: Best Picture for Graham King and Martin Scorsese. Nominated: Best Director for Martin Scorsese. Nominated: Best Adapted Screenplay for John Logan. Nominated: Best Original Score for Howard Shore. Nominated: Best Costume Design for Sandy Powell. Nominated: Best Film Editing for Thelma Schoonmaker. BAFTA® Awards: Won: Best Sound for Philip Stockton, Eugene Gearty, Tom Fleischman and John Midgley. Won: Best Production Design for Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo. Nominated: Best Director for Martin Scorsese. Nominated: Best Cinematography for Robert Richardson. Nominated: Best Original Score for Howard Shore Nominated: Best Editing for Thelma Schoonmaker. Nominated: Best Costume Design for Sandy Powell. Nominated: Best Makeup and Hair for Morag Ross and Jan Archibald.
Cast: Sir Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer, Sir Christopher Lee, Helen McCrory, Michael Stuhlbarg, Frances de la Tour, Richard Griffiths, Jude Law, Kevin Eldon, Gulliver McGrath, Shaun Aylward, Emil Lager, Angus Barnett, Edmund Kingsley, Max Wrottesley, Marco Aponte, Frederick Warder, Christos Lawton, Tomos James, Ed Sanders, Terence Frisch, Max Cane, Frank Bourke, Stephen Box, Ben Addis, Robert Gill, Eric Moreau (uncredited), Mihai Arsene (uncredited), Lasco Atkins (uncredited), Charlie Clark (uncredited), Graham Curry (uncredited), Lorenzo Harani (uncredited), Kostas Katsikis (uncredited), Helen Kingston (uncredited), Ed Pearce (uncredited), Gino Picciano (uncredited), Gemma Rourke (uncredited), Martin Scorsese (uncredited), Brian Selznick (uncredited) Grégoire Thoby (uncredited)
Director: Martin Scorsese
Producers: Barbara De Fina, Charles Newirth, Christi Dembrowski, David Crockett, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Georgia Kacandes, Graham King, John Bernard, Johnny Depp, Martin Scorsese and Tim Headington
Screenplay: John Logan and Brian Selznick (book "The Invention of Hugo Cabret")
Composer: Howard Shore
Cinematography: Robert Richardson
Video Resolution: 1080p
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 films 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 Martin 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 films collectively bond us through dreams. With ceaseless urgency, almost all humans strive to connect with someone or something and it is 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 that is 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 films. 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 is adept at fixing things, can Hugo repair the shambles of his own life, and restore the reputation and self-esteem of Georges Méliès, and in so doing, indirectly heal the crippled station inspector, who feels like half a man? It's a tall order, but Hugo, with the films and the automaton on his side, proves he is 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 Lisette [Emily Mortimer], café owner Madame Emile [Frances de la Tour], bumbling patron Monsieur Frick [Richard Griffiths], suspicious bookseller Monsieur Labisse [Sir Christopher Lee], and Hugo's gruff, drunken uncle Claude Cabret [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 films of old, we often witness their actions through Hugo's peering eyes, a sort of homage to Alfred Hitchcock's 'Rear Window.' Martin Scorsese also beautifully incorporates into the story sequences where Hugo himself views on film, such as the 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 film making. Never a distraction, and the 3D images in 'HUGO' unfolds 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. In the film, 'HUGO' it explains it is the essence of magic, and 3D, when employed judiciously, can be a vital aspect of the spell celluloid weaves. Martin Scorsese, in his infinite wisdom, recognizes that, and Georges Méliès would have appreciated his perspective.
And anyone who truly appreciates classic beautiful films and 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' and that is the reason why it received 11 Academy Awards® 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 films. 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 Entertainment in Video, 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 and the tinting on Georges Méliès's films and 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 afflict 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 film 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 the 3D itself to even greater effect, and sends this film into the stratosphere heights that seamlessly has been integrated into the film and is astonishingly well defined, and the 3D imagery takes us inside Hugo's world and into the captivating realm of cinema like no other film I've seen before. And the effects are even more stunning in the home cinema set-up environment than it was in the cinema. 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 some 3D effects 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. 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, and especially the swoosh of flying papers floating 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. As I have already informed you that '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:
Special Feature Documentary: Shoot The Moon [The Making of HUGO]  [1080p] [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.
Special Feature Documentary: The Mechanical Man at the Heart of ‘HUGO’  [1080p] [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.'
Special Feature Documentary: Sacha Baron Cohen: Role of a Lifetime  [1080p] [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.
Special Feature Documentary: The Cinemagician of Georges Méliès  [1080p] [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.
Special Feature Documentary: Big Effects, Small Scale  [1080p] [6:00] This documentary examines how technicians fashioned the shot of the locomotive crashing through the station façade, 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.
Special Feature Preview [1080p] 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 and 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 image and reference quality audio surround sound that combine to make 'HUGO' even more thrilling at home than it was in cinema, and a must own 3D Blu-ray disc release. A few more extras would have been nice, but this disc isn't about what's behind the screen; it's about what you view. 'HUGO' is an exceptional film in any format, but if you can, you MUST view it in the stunning 3D, 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 in a very long time 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 especially my 3D Blu-ray Collection. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom