Thursday, November 24, 2011

11-24-11: For the love of cinema.

HUGO (2011) ****1/2 127 mins. D: Martin Scorsese. Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jude Law.

An orphan boy living in a train station sets out to finish fixing an automaton he and his father were working on before his untimely passing. An encounter with a cantankerous shopkeeper sets in motion a rather unexpected journey.

In 2009 James Cameron showed the world that when used properly 3-D can create an immersive cinematic experience. A few weeks back I stated that Steven Spielberg's "The Adventures of Tintin" had set the bar on what can be done with 3-D animated films. Leave it to a Hollywood icon to create what is easily the best modern 3-D film to ever grace the silver screen.

The 3-D in "Hugo" is not about objects popping out at you every five minutes. The 3-D adds depth to the images on screen. Unlike many 3-D films before it, every shot is composed to maximize the 3-D effect. Be it from little particles of dust floating in the air, to falling snow, everything serves a purpose. Scorsese truly uses 3-D as a cinematic tool and not a gimmick. One of the true highlights of the film is that he took 3-D and applied it to footage from cinematic classics of yesteryear like the famous clock scene from Harold Lloyd's "Safety Last."

Beyond the 3-D, "Hugo" is a very touching story about the search for meaning, validation and redemption. The film also serves as a lesson on early cinema, an ode to the early pioneers of film and a testament to the importance of film preservation.

If you have the option to see this film in 2-D you will be doing yourself a disservice by not seeing it in 3-D. Save the 2-D for when it arrives on Blu-ray/DVD. Scorsese has crafted a family classic that will move you, enlighten you and is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

"Hugo" is the best film of 2011. I know there's still five weeks left in the year and many film I have yet to see but I don't foresee anyone achieving what Scorsese has done here.

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