Recommended for: Ages 8 to Adult
Martin Scorsese's adaptation of Brian Selznick's award-winning novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret stars Asa Butterfield as an orphan boy who lives in a Parisian train station. Sent to live with his drunken uncle after his father's death in a fire, Hugo learned how to wind the massive clocks that run throughout the station. When the uncle disappears one day, Hugo decides to maintain the clocks on his own, hoping nobody will catch on to him squatting in the station.
His natural aptitude for engineering leads him to steal gears, tools, and other items from a toy-shop owner who maintains a storefront in the station. Hugo needs these purloined pieces in order to rebuild a mechanical man that was left in the father's care at the museum -- the restoration was a project father and son did together.
When Georges, the old man who runs the toy stand, catches on to the thievery, he threatens to turn Hugo over to the station's lone police officer, who makes every effort to send any parentless child in the station to the orphanage. But Hugo's run-in with Georges leads to a friendship with the elderly gentleman's goddaughter, Isabelle, who unknowingly possesses the last item Hugo needs to make the mechanical man work again.
I knew basically nothing about Hugo before watching it, other than that I knew people who liked it. Oh, and that Howard Shore did the music. So I had no expectations, and no idea where the story would go. It easily blew me away. Hugo is a really good movie.
Hugo is a well made movie. It's definitely not a film that was made on a small budget, or with untalented people in any area. Everything, from the writing to the design to the acting to the editing to the music (after all, it was Howard Shore) was very well done.
Much of Hugo takes place in a train station in Paris. I can't remember if they ever said the exact year, but it's sometime past WWI, but when parents could still easily remember the earliest films. The atmosphere of the train station was certainly interesting and seemed authentic, though I can't personally verify it, never having been in a Paris train station in the 20s or 30s. :) The structure of the clocks where Hugo lives was really cool, and something I'd never really thought about before. Someone had to wind the clocks back in the old days, and they had to reach them somehow. It was really cool.
Hugo is a children's movie, but that doesn't keep it from having a complex and involved plot. I honestly had no idea where it was going, at any point. It took me awhile to understand what was going on, but once I started to understand, I was more than interested in what would happen. What's cool is that certain things (I won't say what for spoilers) are taken from real history. There were many twists and turns throughout the story that left me guessing where it was going to go next. I was definitely interested in Hugo and Isabelle's personal stories as well as the revelation of the mystery they were pursuing. It was amazing.
Character Development: 4.5/5
The characters weren't quite top notch favorite fictional character quality, but they were extremely well-developed nonetheless. I cared about Hugo and Isabelle and was anxious to see things turn out well for them, Hugo particularly since he had some extreme hardships he was going through. Isabelle had a good life with her godparents, though there were things she did not know. The side characters added character to the story, such as the lady with the dog, and the police officer. And Papa Georges and Mama Jeanne were both unique fully developed people who fulfilled their role in the story well.
Hugo supposedly didn't make much money, but I don't know why. It is an excellent movie which I highly recommend.