Sunday, 27 November 2011


Let me say at the outset that I found Hugo to be a delightful old-fashioned adventure flick. The setting (a Paris train station in the 1930s) was wonderfully and beautifully realized, the focus on clocks and similar machines was fascinating and original, the acting was uniformly good (I particularly enjoyed watching Ben Kingsley), the cinematography and music were excellent and, as a film buff, I loved the theme of the early history of film. I also appreciated the theme of ‘fixing’ broken people, people who have lost their purpose in life. So why didn’t I like Hugo more than I did? Gareth calls it a masterpiece. I understand how Hugo can be called that, but I can’t do so.

Perhaps all the hype about Hugo, especially the glorious 3D and the fact that it is directed by Martin Scorsese, made me expect to see my WOW film of the year. After all, my WOW film of the last decade also took place in Paris and also featured a full moon. But in spite of some breathtaking scenes, Hugo failed to WOW me. Perhaps it was the story. While the story may have featured original themes and a worthy plot, I found the human drama to be rather predictable and ordinary and a little too slow-paced (which is an odd complaint from me). Or perhaps it’s because the film is about children (an orphan boy who lives in the train station and takes care of the clocks and the daughter of one of the station’s shopkeepers who befriends him), though these are hardly typical child protagonists.

Masterpiece or not, Hugo is a film I would not hesitate to recommend to almost everyone (action lovers beware). Hugo gets a solid ***+ but probably won’t make my top ten in a great film year like 2011. My mug is up.

And now, about the 3D: Did Hugo convince me that I have been too hard on 3D and will I now stop complaining about it? Not a chance. I mean, come on, I hated seeing Avatar in 3D, so no 3D film is likely to impress me. Maybe my brain is wired differently, though I maintain that this is a passing fad (unless the manufacturers of 3D TVs are more powerful than I think). But I have to say that the 3D in Hugo did make an impression on me. I was particularly impressed that Scorsese didn’t pile on the action scenes designed to highlight 3D. On the contrary, it was in the way that Hugo managed to make 3D integral to all the ordinary and quiet scenes that I realized how effective 3D can be. Just not in a film. By this I mean that as I watched Hugo I began to feel that I was watching a 3D ‘show’ (for lack of a better term) rather than a film, which is especially ironic in a ‘so-called’ film about the history of film. I think this explains why the only 3D ‘film’ I have thoroughly appreciated (for being in 3D) is U23D. U23D is also not a ‘film’ for me; it is a concert, and therefore the 3D can add to my enjoyment of the ‘experience’.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting thoughts on the difference between a 'show' and a 'film' when it comes to 3D, and I think I am on exactly the same page. I did really appreciate the 3D in Avatar (and I was surprised by this), but it was precisely as a "show" and not a film. It enhanced the "show-ness" not the film experience. And, I would say Avatar was a striking experience but not a great film - it worked almost better as a fake documentary than a story (in part, of course, because the second half of the plot sucked).