I’m so sorry to once again have a minority view of a popular film, but I found “Hugo” by Martin Scorsese boring and sentimental. It is slow-moving and enamored of itself. The Salon.com reviewer, among many other salivating fans of Scorsese, just about had a case of the vapors over the 3-D. “I have seen the future of 3-D moviemaking, and it belongs to Martin Scorsese,” he trembled, crowning it “the best movie anyone will make in the current post-“Avatar” 3-D wave.” I guess if you loved “Avatar” you may find this the next step up. Not me. I concede that the 3-D was an interesting gimmick, here and there – especially in the exciting chase scenes, done from a kid’s-eye-view waist-high, but mostly the “cute” Scorsese-style black-framed 3-D glasses were heavy on the nose and a strain to the eyes. I trust that those children who are able to stay awake during this ponderous brilliant-orphan-sticks-to-his-guns saga enjoy the effect.
I’m sorry too to observe that Asa Butterfield (who plays the lead orphan Hugo Cabret ) lacks the chops to hold up a film in which he appears in virtually every shot. He has the wide-eyed startled deer-in-the-headlights look down pat, but little else. Thankfully, his childhood partner, Isabelle (played by Chloe Moretz), is charming and sympathetic as she garners her first real life “adventure” by assisting poor little Hugo. Branded a thief - he really only takes what he needs: food and tools – until he gets caught going for the mechanical mouse from the stall of Georges Méliès (Ben Kingsley), Isabelle’s godfather.
When a film is made by someone called Scorsese, one expects that a few celebrities will drop into the production. Sacha Baron Cohen plays the evil station inspector; the lovely Helen McCrory plays Isabelle’s godmother; and Jude Law is Hugo’s prematurely-dead dad. Johnny Depp, a producer of the film, is a well-oiled band leader who turns up fleetingly in disconnected flashes.
One also expects Scorsese to weave in a plethora of artistic references and he doesn’t disappoint. In fact, he seems to have won over the film reviewers to such an astounding degree that the collective score by the two dozen reviewers (of them, one is a woman) blurbed on Rotten Tomatoes is a stratospheric 97%. I find this profoundly puzzling for a sappy film that takes place in a Paris train station where the characters have French names and English accents and where the emotions run from trying-to-be-poignant all the way to still-trying-to-be-poignant. The film is crying out for an editor willing to slice the flab from what is, under the razzle-dazzle, a very thin work.
Waiting in line outside the Harvard Square theater with the rest of the excited crowd before we could be seated, one matriarch told her family about an interview Jon Stewart conducted with Martin Scorsese in which the director explained that he wanted to make one film that his 12-year-old daughter could see. It is a modest goal and I congratulate him for reaching it.
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