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HUGO
3D Blu-ray Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars: Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Christopher Lee, Emily Mortimer, Helen McCrory, Ray Winstone, Jude Law
Director: Martin Scorsese
Audio: DTS HD 7.5
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Studio: Paramount
Features: See Review
Length: 126 Minutes
Release Date: February 28, 2012

My friends, I address you all tonight as you truly are: wizards, mermaids, travelers, adventurers, magicians. Come and dream with me.”

Film ****

There may not be many modern directors who truly appreciate the magic of cinema the way Martin Scorsese does, and there may not be any filmmaker who was more magical than Georges Melies. Bring the two of them together, and you have the kind of experience that reminds you why you go to the movies in the first place.

Hugo is the story of a boy who encounters that legendary magician of the silent era. Melies (Kingsley) once bewildered and delighted audiences in a time before the term “special effects” was even bandied about, but like many from that era, he seems to have sadly outlived his usefulness. He forbids his family from even going to the movies.

Now, as a toy seller in a great train station in Paris, he might just be the strange answer Hugo (Butterfield) is looking for. His father (Law), a clockmaker, had discovered a strange and wonderful robot that could write. If Hugo could only repair it, there might be a message.

There is so much joy in this film that the screen can barely contain it (hence, I suppose, Martin Scorsese’s first foray into 3D). The playful camerawork that follows Hugo as he goes from clock to clock inside the station is cheerfully astonishing. And the movie blends impeccable cinematography with amazing visual effects (and won Oscars in both categories).

But all of this points to a man Scorsese clearly admires and whose name more modern audiences should know. Scorsese creates magic with CGI, but Melies did it with simple tricks and illusions. The film takes us into the world of Melies, where men flew to the moon (and landed in its eye), swam with mermaids, fought with impish devils, and made magic out of everyday items.

I’ve owned a collection of his movies for many years, and still enjoy it to this day. Not many survive out of the hundreds he crafted, but enough do to cement his legend. With Hugo, Martin Scorsese tells a wonderful story that takes us closer to a real artist, and revels in the magic that only the movies can provide.

Video: 2D ****, 3D **1/2

The Oscar winning-cinematography is as good as advertised…however, this is not one of the finer 3D offerings I’ve seen. Considering Paramount has issued one of the best in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, this one has a surprising amount of ghosting and doubled images. When it works, it’s spectacular, but I found it a little too distracting a little too much of the time.

Audio ****

No complaints here…the DTS HD soundtrack is loud, lively and dynamic all the way through…shot for shot, the audio matches the whimsical play of the images on screen, making this a clear, clear and immersive listening experience.

Features ***

The extras are all on the 2D version of the movie, and they include a making-of featurette, a look at the film’s automaton, a look back at the career of Melies, plus looks at the special effects and the inimitable Sacha Baron Cohen. There is also a bonus digital copy disc.

Summary:

Hugo is original, fresh and delightful…Martin Scorsese has made perhaps his ultimate tribute to the art form he so dearly loves and has done so much to advance. Highly recommended.

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