'Hugo': Scorsese’s film runs like an endless film reel

Kevin Thomas's picture


Movies come out every year. They get good reviews, bad reviews, and mixed reviews. I, as a critic, enjoy reviewing these numerous films, the good, the bad, and the too ugly for words. I am a person who usually either likes a movie or hates it. The point is that I don’t give mixed reviews to many films. I will give a film a mixed review if I believe a proper tone is not set, the events are odd or if it starts out one way and ends another. “Hugo” is an example of the first and third reasons for me giving a film a mixed review.

It tells the “story”, if you could call it that, of the titular 12-year-old who lives in the clock of a train station and the mean, stodgy men who work there, portrayed by Ben Kingsley and Sacha Baron Cohen. He meets a kind girl with an exquisite vocabulary who takes him on, I guess you could call it an adventure. Through a long strand of events that are too numerous to type, our two heroes discover that Kingsley was a famous movie maker way back when, and they teach him how he used to love film. The other characters include a longtime fan of Kingsley’s character, a “love interest” for Cohen’s character, and two random old people without which the film wouldn’t be any better or worse. We also get Jude Law for about three minutes as Hugo’s father, who, for the sake of the movie, dies after we have just met him in an unexplained fire.

I said above that I am giving this film a mixed review. I’ve told you the negative, so now I’ll begin with the positives of this movie.

The cinematography of the movie is eye catching, especially the first scene where we follow Hugo through his clock tower home. I enjoyed the parts of the movie that explained how the first movies came to be.

The movie also has a bit of humor, which helps it move along. However, for the first 40 minutes, the film doesn’t seem to know what to do with itself. I was thinking to myself that this movie might be like “Dazed & Confused”, a film that never went anywhere; it just followed teens throughout their crazy drunken night. Luckily enough, old Martin Scorsese realizes that he needs to have a movie after 40 minutes of going nowhere, so he picks it up. If only the entire movie had been interesting. If you haven’t guessed already, this film, though its stars are kids, is not for kids. Trust me, you will be paying for $21 tickets just to give your kid a nap.

Rated PG for Thematic Elements, Brief Smoking, and Some Peril ( A train nearly runs Hugo over in the station, but he survives)

IMNSHO's picture
Joined: 08/10/2006
A truly excellent movie

When the lights came up in the theater after this movie ended, my spouse and I turned to each other and said "Wow. That was truly excellent."

Just because something is rated PG doesn't mean it is a kids' movie. I agree that it is not a movie I would take a kid to see, because I don't think most kids (and even many teens) would appreciate it. And this is a movie that deserves to be appreciated.

Michael Boylan
Michael Boylan's picture
Joined: 10/17/2005
A brief rebuttal

“Hugo” is the best movie I’ve seen all year and will probably be my pick for Best Picture when I make my Oscar predictions. It is a beautiful movie and a true masterpiece, which is saying something when one considers the work of director Martin Scorcese. The performances are excellent. Ben Kingsley deserves a Best Supporting Actor nod. This is also one film where you should see it in 3D. It was filmed in 3D and not crammed into that style after the fact. Easily the best movie in theaters now.

BTW, Kevin, I'm not sure why we keep getting your old mug with your column. I'll try to fix it.

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