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Review: Hugo

A valentine to early cinema
By ANN LEWINSON  |  November 21, 2011
2.5 2.5 Stars

Martin Scorsese goes Spielberg with Hugo, as dumbed-down as the shortening of the title of Brian Selznick's Caldecott winner implies (The Invention of Hugo Cabret). In this valentine to early cinema, an orphan (Asa Butterfield) who maintains the clocks in a Paris train station runs afoul of a toy dealer (Ben Kingsley) who may be movie pioneer Georges Méliès. Scorsese meticulously recreates Méliès's films in 3D, but that technology (and John Logan's ham-fisted script) is the rub. Scorsese draws a bludgeoning parallel between 3D and the Lumière Brothers' audience ducking an oncoming train and then has Hugo recreate Harold Lloyd's clock stunt, but 3D's theatrical dimension defeats any sense of jeopardy we might experience in this CGI era. As the child-catching inspector — a pratfaller with a flower-girl sweetheart (Emily Mortimer) — Sacha Baron Cohen is no Chaplin, or even a Keystone Cop. A plea for film preservation made in the medium that's killing it, Hugo unwittingly proves that old movies really were better.

  Topics: Reviews , Movie Reviews, Emily Mortimer, Asa Butterfield,  More more >
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