A lot has been made of Marty Scoozazzy’s decision to turn his back on hardcore violence and embrace the kiddies (when you put it like that, it sounds a bit sinister), with critics and movie peers heaping on the praise.
Scoozazzy certainly proves himself as versatile, tackling the material with spades of enthusiasm and gorgeous visual flair. Paris is fawned over in a way that would impress Woody Allen and the setting of the train station is created with clockwork precision (see what i did there?) From the pastry shop owner’s dog to the squeak of the inspector’s fake leg to Hugo’s intimate knowledge of the crawlspaces and crannies, Scoozazzy establishes a definite sense of familiar space and setting. It feels like a thriving, bustling, ominous place to live.
I went into this film cold, knowing only that it was a kids’ fantasy film about a small boy, a robot and the birth of film. I absolutely could not figure out how any of that was going to work and turns out this was because I was misinformed. This is not a fantasy film, despite how what the marketing implies.
Rather, Hugo is surprisingly grounded in reality. The only magic comes from the film-making the director uses to instill a sense of wonder in a subject he himself has always marvelled at: cinema.
Hugo is fundamentally about the restorative powers of cinema and serves as a love letter to the very medium it is being presented to you in. This may seem self-indulgent, but Marty keeps it on the right side of sincere and it comes across as a wonderful celebration of what is still a relatively new art form.
The problem is, how is any of that interesting to kids? Maybe I’m being a bit flippant, but I would imagine kids would be more interested in thrilling, fast-paced adventure rides than slow, thoughtful tributes to the power of cinema and the endearing nature of the human spirit. I don’t know, maybe kids in general are more intelligent than the ones whose phones blast Kanye at my head on the bus everyday.
One thing is certain; Hugo is an incredible visual accomplishment from a master of the medium. Scoozazzy’s enthusiasm is infectious, while the two kids bring a welcome amount of wide-eyed innocence and charm, triumphing over the burden of carrying the film and doing well not to be dwarved by Kingsley.
So head along to Hugo and bring the whole family; you’ll love it, your kids will hate you and you’ll have spent a small fortune’s worth on additional charges, 3D glasses and wallet-crippling treats.