Throughout his 30+ year career as a film director, Martin Scorsese has gone on to make feature films that have become some of the most violent and sinister crime films in the history of cinema from the likes of Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Departed and Cape Fear. However, in 2011 he makes something entirely different that is beyond anything that he has ever done, and although he has taken a vast turn towards almost the opposing genre to what he has previously worked on, he goes on to make yet another masterpiece that takes us on an absolutely magnificent journey about the history of films and expresses a whole new side to him that took us all so long to witness.
Ever since the re-birth of 3D that began with James Cameron’s Avatar, it has become a money-grubbing gimmick but at the same time, has been a phenomenon by experiencing cinema at a whole new level. Having said that there haven’t been many films to have reached the realistic and dazzling level of 3D for a very long time, Hugo manages to avoid being a film that gets slapped, so to speak, by using the 3D gimmick to gain more money. So, it proves that paying for 3D tickets really is worth the money as it demonstrates what 3D is all about, it moves you a step closer to it feeling like reality and the film as a whole expresses the magic of movies and there is no greater experience.
Only until recently, we saw the legendary Steven Spielberg go beyond anything he had ever done as he went on to make his first animated feature film The Adventures Of Tintin, and proudly Martin Scorsese does the same as he provides a whole new side to not only himself as a director and the forthcoming fate of 3D but the spiritual magic of cinema from the past and for the upcoming future. Hugo literally became a film that is split into two as it begins with a beautiful heart-warmer for children, but progresses and becomes a very emotional and enchanting bio-pic of how cinema truly began. John Logan, who’s previous written screenplays have included Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street, Edward Zwick’s The Last Samurai, goes on to write his second screenplay in a Martin Scorsese film (first was The Aviator) and magically balances the charm and magic with the heartfelt emotion and witty humour for children and adults alike.
Hugo may be Scorsese’s first family film but it is also his first feature film without Leonardo DiCaprio ever since Bringing Out The Dead in 1999 as he brings forth a brand new ensemble cast. Asa Butterfield, who gave a breakthrough performance in The Boy In The Striped Pajamas does an absolutely fantastic job as Hugo Cabret, who resembles famous Disney prince Aladdin. Butterfield gets yet another breakthrough and becomes one of the best child stars of this generation. Chloe Grace Moretz already hit the mark as one of the greatest child actors after her mind-blowing and breath-taking performance in Kick-Ass but this time, she expresses Isabelle as not only a cute young girl, but also with a very mature nature. Ben Kingsley perhaps had the most on his shoulders as he portrayed the toy shop owner, later revealed to be the late French filmmaker and illusionist Georges Méilés. Kingsley, who has portrayed real-life people on more than one occasion, provides the realistic feeling that he himself was the backbone of cinema, so to speak, and delivers a fantastic performance!
From a personal perspective, Sacha Baron Cohen was the true star of Hugo because now after seeing Hugo and is scheduled to be in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, he really is an actor to be reckoned with as he gives a very funny (similar kind of humour as to what we’ve seen him in before) and yet a very genuine performance. Hugo has become his breakthrough in the genre of drama. Ray Winstone, Jude Law, Emily Mortimer, Richard Griffiths, Helen McCrory, Frances de la Tour and Christopher Lee add more warmth to the film with their casual supporting appearances. Plus, co-producer Johnny Depp makes one appearance in a shot during the film. The most overwhelming aspect about the cast and their performances is that despite the majority involved are British and American actors, it still grasps the reality of Hugo really being in the French capital city of Paris.
Overall, Hugo is an enchanting and magical masterpiece that is without a doubt one of Martin Scorsese’s finest achievements and is a perfect film for kids and adults. It is also a huge inspiration to movie fanatics and is literally like a love letter to them and to some of the greatest actors, directors and crew members of the past! This will undoubtedly be a very strong contender for Best Picture and after how this has turned out, it will be a very difficult task for any other film of 2011 to triumph over this one!