December 30, 2011

Review: Martin Scorsese Reinvents 'Hugo'

Martin Scorsese does it once again, proving his mastery of the cinematic medium (not that he had to) with his first foray into digital and 3D filmmaking in the period children's adventure, Hugo. Based on The Invention of Hugo Cabaret book, Hugo is a cinematic love letter to the early days of filmmaking and 1930s Paris. Its 3D is rendered as a part of the storytelling narrative celebrating innovation and the history of cinema.

I am an ardent non-fan of 3D imagery and filmmaking technology yet Hugo featured easily the best 3D visuals and filmmaking I have witnessed to date. Its dazzling visuals and French landscapes marvels the three dimensional action in Avatar. Scorsese's flawless framing along with the beautiful cinematography is stunning. Scorsese wields the Paris cityscape with so much depth and 3D imagery to enhance the visual storytelling.

Hugo is not without its flaws. I felt it overlong by a margin with a sometimes slow narrative. With its two hour plus runtime and essentially a children's narrative, the story, while wondrous, stalled at various times.

The titular orphan boy protagonist played by Asa Butterfield did not always hold his own being featured in virtually every scene among acting heavyweights like Sir Ben Kingsley (as the famous French illusionist and filmmaker Georges Méliès). Chloë Moretz was charming and serviceable with so many moving parts in the background.

Hugo is everything cinematic. It uses the state-of-art filmmaking technology to weave a classic tale of adventure looking back at the delightful beginnings of early silent films. Constructed as a family 3D adventure, it comments on film history, culture, and preservation. Full of magic and whimsy, Scorsese masterfully creates a world of historical fiction while dazzling the audience on screen.

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