Hugo, Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy (2012)

by | Mar 19, 2012 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews

Hugo, Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy (2012)
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Chloe Moretz, Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Jude Law, Sacha Baron Cohen, Christopher Lee
Studio: Paramount 14494 (2 discs) [2/28/12]
Video: 1.85:1 for 16:9 1080p HD
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French/Spanish/Portuguese DD 5.1, English Audio Description
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Extras: “Shoot the Moon” – The making of Hugo, “The Cinemagician Georges Melies,” The Mechanical Man at the Heart of Hugo, Big Effects Small Scale, Sacha Baron Cohen: Role of a Lifetime
Time: 126 minutes
Rating: *****

For his first real family film, Scorsese has brought together a myriad of story lines and ideas without any corny gimmicks to keep both young and old interested. He has also included a subject very dear to himself – that of film history and preservation – and told the story of the great early magician of films, Georges Melies. The true story of this amazing early innovator of films is made an integral part of Hugo.
Hugo Cabret is a small orphan boy who winds up and services the clocks in the Paris railway station in the 1930s, following the death of his clockmaker father in a fire. He lives in a forgotten area in the clock tower and innards of the station and most stay out of the way of the station inspector played to a T by Sacha Baron Cohen – who doesn’t know the uncle who replaced the boy’s father has disappeared and that the boy is taking care of the station clocks. Hugo keeps a mysterious automaton which he and his father worked on and which will eventually be able to write poems and draw images. Several little side stories evolve in the railway station, including the lady who owns a little cafe, a man who hesitantly approaches her—scared off by her dachshund—the musicians who play in front of the cafe (including Django Reinhardt), customers at the cafe (including Salvador Dali), and the inspector’s hesitant approach to a female flower seller.
Hugo steals some parts from the owner of a little toy shop in the station, and though the old man distrusts him, he meets the man’s young ward Isabelle, who introduces him to a kindly bookseller. Together the two end up running into a professor who has written a book on early films and Melies and introduce him to the real Melies, whose filmmaking eventually failed and he give it all up, forcing himself to forget it and buy a toy shop. The youngsters (and viewers) learn all about the early roots of cinema, and Hugo unlocks the secret of the automaton, which it turns out was built originally by Melies. The professor locates 80 of Melies’ many short films and organizes a lavish public showing at which the aged magician of film appears and thanks Hugo for making it all possible.
The 2D transfer is terrific, but I thought this was the best 3D theatrical film since Avatar and Cave of Forgotten Dreams, and am looking forward to viewing the 3D Blu-ray soon. (Unlike some other recent films, the 2D and 3D Blu-rays are separate packages.) The use of 3D theatrically is very natural and appropriate and furthers the film’s story; it’s not a gimmick. Howard Shore’s music is mixed with appropriate Parisian music of the period, and the various clockwork sounds are perfectly handled in surround in the scenes near and inside the various mechanisms featured in the film. The bonus features are well worth viewing. Sacha Baron Cohen retains his character from the film thruout his interview, claiming that it was terrible working with the young people but the dogs were wonderful, that he purposely gained a lot of weight for his role, and that he always told Scorsese what to do, even yelling “action” and “cut.”
—John Sunier

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