Film review: Martin Scorsese's 'Hugo' provides vehicle for film magic

By Shawn O'Neill

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Nov. 24 2011 3:00 p.m. MST

In this Nov. 21, 2011 photo, from left, Asa Butterfield, Martin Scorsese and Chloe Moretz pose at the premiere of "Hugo," in New York. The film was directed by Martin Scorsese and is based on the Brian Selznick's award-winning novel "The Invention of Hugo Cabret".

Associated Press

"HUGO" — ★★★ — Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Chloe Moretz, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jude Law; PG (mild thematic material, some action/peril and smoking); in general release

Moviemakers are like magicians. They practice their craft and become good at it, and hopefully audiences love their work. Martin Scorsese has a lot of practice at his craft, and his latest film "Hugo" is a treat for the audience.

Hugo (Asa Butterfield) and his father (Jude Law) are watchmakers. His father also works at a museum repairing items. He finds an automaton and father and son decide to fix it together.

Hugo is happy until the night his father is killed in a fire. He is taken in by his uncle, who lives in the train station taking care of the clocks. That is now Hugo's job, though he is never paid for it.

Hugo makes his way in life by stealing food and avoiding the station inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen). He is still trying to fix the automaton and looks for mechanical items to use on the machine. Knowing this, the owner of a toy shop (Ben Kingsley) sets him up and takes a notebook from him. The notebook is Hugo's connection to his father, and he wants it back.

Hugo makes friends with the shopkeeper's god-daughter, Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz), to try and get his notebook back. The search leads them to a mystery involving their fathers, the automaton and the birth of an art form. Neither of them intended to find what they find.

Magic is a big theme in this film. Scorsese is a fan of film history, and this movie pays homage to the "magicians" who started finding ways to make movies and make them entertaining.

The story starts a little on the slow side, but once it picks up viewers will become engaged with the characters and the mystery they are trying to solve. One of the characters is an actual person from history who was the owner of a toy shop in a train station.

The one thing that is a little strange is the automaton. It feels a bit creepy. Not horror movie creepy, but almost.

There is some violence in the film, especially during chase scenes through the train station. Also, the station inspector has some comments about a policeman's wife that are a little rude. Plus, Hugo gets into a couple of dangerous situations.

It's better to be a little vague about this film due to the amount of potential spoilers. Suffice it to say that the mystery does get solved, and the magic of film continues on in "Hugo."

Check out the Deseret News Family Media Guide here.

Shawn O'Neill is the Family Man Movie Reviewer on BYU Radio. His reviews can be heard on BYURadio.org and on SiriusXM Channel 143.

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