wogma rating: Owner's Pride! (?) - Anywhere else will just be gross injustice, not to mention the experience that you’ll miss.

quick review:

It had to be a film that is as diametrically opposite to, say, Taxi Driver or Goodfellas, to show the world just what cinema means to Martin Scorsese. This love letter to the movies from one of the legends of our time is nothing short of a wondrous watch on the big screen. If the recreation of some of the most iconic moments in the history of cinema is not good enough for you, then the visually thrilling 3D experience definitely will be. Only one thing needs to be said – Please watch Hugo on the big screen.

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Director: Martin Scorsese
Running time: 128 minutes
Genres: Adventure, Family
More Movie Info

No matter how much you claim to love the movies, there will always be one man who can rightfully claim to love them more. His name is Martin Scorsese. That Scorsese’s knowledge and understanding of film history, film theory and film grammar is virtually unmatched is a fact well known. So if there was anyone who one could bet on, to understand exactly when and how to use the oft-abused 3D technology to get the best out of it, it would have to be Martin Scorsese.

So what does Scorsese do when he uses 3D for the first time ever? He makes a thrillingly visual ode to that which he loves the most – the movies. Hugo is a film that you shouldn’t miss in the theatre even if you don’t like cinema. And if you love the movies the way some of us do, Hugo is an experience that won’t exit your system in a hurry.

Based on the book ‘The Invention of Hugo Cabret’ by Brian Selznick, Hugo tells the tale of an orphan who lives within the recesses of a Paris train station - his home amidst the chains and sprockets that run the clock at the train station provides him with an enviable view of the Eiffel Tower looming large over one of the world’s great cities.

One of Hugo’s most prized possessions is a mechanical humanoid, something his deceased father found years ago in a forgotten corner of a museum. And Hugo’s aim is to complete his father’s dream of making the mechanical bot work once again. In his quest, he encounters a shopkeeper at the train station, a man whose story is inexorably tied with Hugo’s.

Shot lovingly in glorious 3D, Hugo is arguably the first film that beautifully meshes the third dimension with the grammar of cinema to create a compelling theatrical experience. Not to mention the fact that proponents of digital over film will be thrilled with the results that the Arri Alexa has produced. Even the Academy Award for Cinematography doesn’t do justice to just how good Hugo is visually - the breathtaking opening shot alone justifies the use of 3D.

The atmosphere that the film creates with the post-World War I Parisian setting is nothing short of incredible. The fact that a large portion of it is multiple Award-winning VFX rarely crosses your mind. Interestingly, not too deep from the surface of the thrill-ride that the story and the characters take you on, lies the characters’ quest for answers to the ultimate existential dilemma - what is one’s purpose?

What helps immensely is the fact that the entire cast does complete justice to their parts. With his piercing blue eyes, Asa Butterfield as Hugo will charm you. But it is Ben Kingsley playing the old ‘shopkeeper’ whose performance will leave you with a lump in your throat. Also, Sacha Baron Cohen as the over-enthusiastic Station Master out for Hugo’s throat is plain adorable.

But nothing beats the ultimate treat that this film offers – its tribute to cinema. Hugo is the kind of film that will show you just how much you love the movies – the intensity of the shivers up your spine will be directly proportional to how much cinema means to you. This, the most un-Scorsese like picture ever, actually feels much closer to Scorsese’s heart than most of his other jaw-dropping work.

The tragedy then is that Hugo has been released in India over four months since it was released abroad. And this afterthought release itself is nothing short of embarrassing – no multiplex has more than a show a day for ‘A Martin Scorsese Picture.’ One can only hope that the audience throngs these limited shows to show corporates how to treat a master’s work.

This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at

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2 readers - 1 yays 1 so-so 0 nays

Yay! Thumbs Up, by Mudit : One of the few movies which have depth of meaning with economy of expression!

So-So, by hugo

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: A few scenes involving adults man-handling children, but nothing objectionable.
  • Language: Very clean.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None.
  • Concept: A young boy’s quest to find the truth about one of his father’s passions.
  • General Look and Feel: Beautiful colours and captivating 3D.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

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Hugo - Cast, crew, links

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Music Director:
Running time:
128 minutes

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For those who have found the movie exciting as well as those who found it boring, my impressions of Hugo are captured here after a second viewing, I have decided to append this post by another one shortly.

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