Well, there was much hype to this one, especially with the Oscar buzz that surrounded this latest film by the great Martin Scorsese. It has a great cast, an interesting story, and a unique setting. The problem I had with “Hugo” was that it just didn’t appeal to me in the long run. It wasn’t a God-awful mess, but the film lacked something. It wasn’t particularly funny or comedic. It didn’t touch my heart or make me suddenly want to get up and cheer. It didn’t make me cry or even feel a real connection to any of the main characters.
“Hugo” just didn’t inspire me.
I suppose there are worse things that could be said, all in all. I for one was expecting a little bit more magic from the very innocent-looking film. Sacha Baron Cohen provides some comedy, but nothing to crack up over. Emily Mortimer adds a love interest that goes almost nowhere. The “background players” are a who’s who of the Harry Potter films, for as much good as they did the film. The kids that are the leads are forgettable…for I clearly I have forgotten even their names. Even the great Ben Kingsley comes off as a too-complicated-to-grasp character. (The ending is supposed to explain this all, but by the time they got to it, I could have cared less.)
The truth is, “Hugo” really isn’t that grand – and I don’t understand why anyone thought it would win so many Oscars. It did win quite a few, but Best Picture? Not this film! Maybe it was nominated in this category solely because of Martin? Maybe. Never the less, the train station is an interesting backdrop to the story, but the whole clocks & clockworks seemed unnecessary. It added more to the story supposedly, but I didn’t think it added any depth. (I’m sure many out there may disagree with what I just said, so go right on ahead.)
Mostly, the sense I got of “Hugo” was that Martin wanted to make a movie about film preservation. You may have seen the spots he ran alongside Clint Eastwood where Martin is talking about the French film “the Red Shoes”. This is all very well and good – and I fully support preserving these films so they are not lost to time – but what about using the story of “Hugo” to bring awareness to the issue? I don’t like it, I say. It seems tawdry and cheap, like a bad carnival magician who begins to show his tricks. That’s what I saw.
“Hugo” just isn’t very good, and while it isn’t 100% rotten, I am assailed by the obvious intent of a Director that is more interested in making a pseudo-political statement than with making a magical tale that will bring wonder into the heart of any viewer.
…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE