Hugo, the inspirational tale of an orphaned child who attempts to unravel a great mystery in order to give closure and to connect with his late father, is most well known for its huge budget and masterful use of special effects. However, the film does in fact delve into older special effect techniques, as an homage to Georges Melies. For example, the train crash, as we watched, was done through a model, and the automaton was not done through effects, it was actually made. There’s always something interesting about a Martin Scorsese movie, and when it comes to Hugo, the topic of discussion is the marvelous style that the movie has through its special effects and cinematography. In my opinion, the film is   style over substance, and apart from the effects, it doesn’t really wow me. The acting and character progression, in particular, were two plot elements that I think could have been done better. Hugo and Isabelle were annoying and not likable, and the comic relief that the train inspector provided was unnecessary. The progression of the characters was also confusing. Isabelle and Hugo become best friends instantly, and seemingly for no reason. Georges Melies and his wife are the only interesting characters. The sequence where Melies explains his movie making career, and all of his previous works are shown on screen, is probably the best part of the entire film. The tinting of Melies’ old movies combined with the narration Melies provides makes this scene one of the most rememberable scenes, too. It is the most colorful part of the film, and it doesn’t even use CGI. From start to finish, Hugo is a decent film. It provides most of what an audience is looking for in excitement, fun, and a stylistic edge. however, It lacks the substance of a great film.


4 thoughts on “Hugo

  1. It is absolutely no question that the background and special effect techniques are phenomenal in the movie Hugo. I was pleasantly surprised to see how much work went in to what only equated to be half a minute in the movie such as the train crash you mentioned. While I respect your opinion that the style of the movie is better than the substance, because I do agree with that, I have to disagree that the aspects of the plot could have been done better. Isabelle is a smart young girl, a rarity on screen these days. I can see why you think she is unlikable, because she is very book smart for her age, however I think this is what makes her likable and comparable to characters such as Hermione or Matilda. As for Hugo, I understand how they became friends so fast because he has been alone for such a long time. I don’t think his character is unlikable either; he is just in a frustrating situation. The subplots added to the movie as well because it showed that the train inspector has a soft spot, which is not an uncommon element of a children’s movie.

  2. I agree with you in that characterization seemed disappointingly lacking, but I think that was necessary to fit the approximately 2-hour time frame of a modern day motion picture. Had any more characterization been added, the film would have been way too long, and it would have suffered because of it. I think this film’s purpose was not to make you fall in love with the characters but instead to create a work of art. The painstaking editing/special effects really give the impression that the film isn’t so much based on the plot as it is based on the world in which they live and how beautiful and spectacular it is (and really how beautiful and spectacular LIFE is) and how small little adventures (subplots) in life are beautiful and should be appreciated. I think this film really celebrates that idea.

  3. One of my favorite things about film is how the director can take a simple scene and make it unique without the use of CGI and other special effects. I agree that the the part where George is explaining all his movies and his inspiration for making them is the best part. It finally brings to light the underlying issue throughout the whole movie. We obviously know George has some sort of history that makes him a sour person especially after taking much offense into Hugo’s notebook but I also believe it took way too long to explain. Although there is no said reason why Hugo and Isabelle become bestfriends, we have to remember both child’s innocence and that Isabelle is looking for an adventure while Hugo is looking for some companionship. Therefore, both of them offer what the other is seeking. As for the comic relief offered by the inspector, I believe its done in a way that fits well with the story. He was an orphan before who ended up going to the war and permanently damaging his leg leading him to be the mean person he is.

  4. The way you are complaining about the character introduction and development reminds me a lot of the polar express. This is an interesting play on childish intuition. It shows these shy characters that for some reason take an instant liking to each other as if to foreshadow something immaculate. This could be, in part, to the fact that it is a children’s movie. Also the trainman is a lot like the trainman from the polar express that establishes an annoying presence and continues to pester the passengers as well as the audience. The film was still brilliant and the effects had an old school touch like the model for the train wreck.

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