I watched Hugo 3D again last night, this time with J&L (and Kathy). I knew in my gut that they would love it, and they did. Janelle, as usual, offered reflections on the film which had not occurred to me, forcing me to reconsider what I had previously written. But first, my initial observations upon a second viewing.
I was surprised that I found the story even more compelling this time. As in my first viewing, I found the screening of the early films of George Melies somewhat distracting and the story rather predictable, but neither of these would prevent me from giving Hugo ****. However, if anything, I found the 3D even more problematic for me on second viewing and realized that my initial ***+ rating was caused almost entirely by the 3D presentation. In my previous review, I mentioned that I could appreciate the 3D if I thought of it as an experience other than a film. But the bottom line, for me, is that I find 3D ugly. I found it ugly in Avatar and I find it ugly in Hugo. For me, 3D literally saps the beauty out of any film it touches.
Janelle, however, suggested that 3D is integral to Hugo because it is about (among other things) the wonder of watching films for the very first time. Because 3D is still fresh, it can help recreate that feeling of wonder. The 3D also gives Hugo a surreal dreamlike quality which connects to Melies’ comments linking films and dreams. I can see her point, though it frightens me. Apparently the Lumiere brothers who invented film thought it would be a passing fad, as I believe 3D to be a passing fad. If I am as mistaken as they were, then I fear the world of film is heading down a dark and unfortunate path, though obviously many people must disagree with me.
Further to the theme of rediscovering the wonder of the earliest films, Janelle pointed out that viewing excerpts from Melies’ films was likewise integral to Hugo. Laurens added that the theme of fixing broken people includes the theme of finding lost things and bringing them to light to be appreciated for what they have given us.
If those aspects of Hugo which I found most distracting are in fact integral to the film, then I must reevaluate my previous rating and give Hugo a somewhat reluctant ****.