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Carl the Critic: Reviews "Hugo" (Caution Contains Plot Spoilers)

Updated on January 1, 2015




Experience/Expectations: "Hugo" is based on a novel by Brian Selznick about a boy who works on the clocks at some french train station and meets Georges Méliès. That's all I knew about the film going into it (or at least what wikipedia told me, I never read the book myself but I know that it is the first novel to win a Caldecott Medal which is unusual because this is an award for children picture books.) With no time to read the novel, and not sure how accurate wikipedia was on the novel, I watched the trailer and smelled a potential for an Oscar nomination. The trailer looked so beautiful, clean, and colorful. It also has the visionary eye of Martin Scorsese, and the script of John Logan (who wrote the script for so many good movies like "Rango", "Sweeny Todd", "Gladiator", "The Last Samurai", and many other films.) It also looked like it had a talented cast (Ben Kingsley, Christopher Lee, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jude Law, Chloë Grace Moretz and many others). But the real selling point for me (based on what I saw in the trailer) was the costume and production design, which looked amazing. But how does the film hold up? Is it really as good as I hoped? Well there were things that were better than I expected, and things that were a little disappointing.

Story: The story begins with a boy named Hugo (big surprise) trying to steal from a toy salesman who is simply known as "Papa George", but is caught and Papa George takes the boy's notebook, and for the first 30 minutes of the film Hugo torments Papa George about getting his journal back. Eventually it seems as though Papa George burned the notebook and Hugo gets very sad (if you find Hugo's sad face annoying, don't worry he only cries about 20% of the entire film, so it's not that big of a deal.) We also meet Isabelle (who on occasion loses her British accent) who likes books but is not allowed to watch movies because her godfather (Papa George) doesn't want her to. Hugo then takes her to his home in the clocks and show her a robot (actually it's not a robot it's a thing magician's used or something, but I'm still calling it a robot) that his dad gave to him from the museum that he use to work at. I say use to because before he can help his son finish fixing the robot the museum catches on fire on a night when he is working. When Hugo fixes the robot and finds out that Isabelle has the key that is used to make the robot work, he uses the key in the hopes that it writes a letter to him from his father from beyond the grave. It doesn't. Instead it draws a picture of the man on the moon with a rocket in his eye with the signature of Georges Méliès (which turns out to be "Papa George's" real name.)
Now for those of you who don't know your film history, Georges Méliès was the magician turned filmmaker who was one of the first to use special effects in his films. The picture that the robot drew was based on the film called "Le Voyage dans la Lune" ("The Trip to the Moon" for those who ne parlent pas français).
The two children then discover the truth as they try to find out why Georges Méliès became Papa George.

Critique: Let me begin by saying I love this movie, but I also found some things annoying about it. This is definitely not John Logan's best work as a writer, the dialogue was for the most part very annoying, but I did like some moments, like how Hugo believes that the world is a gigantic machine, and that machines always have the exact number of parts they need to be made, and that each person is like a part of the machine with a special purpose. I think that was a sweet moment. With a knowledge of film history, I can appreciate the incorporation of Georges Méliès into the story, even if it was historically inaccurate (but if you want to talk about historical accuracy, we can talk about "Inglorious Basterds".)
Remember when I said that the costume and production design were amazing? Well I did say it, but the cinematography was also really amazing. The 3D was good too, (and it makes me want to watch all of Georges Méliès's films in 3D).
Some of the acting was really good, (even Chloë Grace Moretz who lost her British accent a few times). There was a few moments when the editing was weird (a scene when Hugo is trying to out run the Inspector guy and his dog and there's a half-second cut of an extreme close up of Hugo's face for no reason), but even that was good for the most part. There is a minor love story between the Inspector and some flower girl which I don't particularly like but I'll let it slide because it doesn't take up too much of the movie, and it gives the Inspector depth and complexity.

Overall: So on the whole check out "Hugo", it's a fun movie. I cannot guarantee that you'll love it, because it feels like a hit-or-miss film that some people will find annoying, but then again IT'S A KIDS MOVIE! I know it's not the best excuse, but it is made mostly for kids, however I think adults might like it too. There is so much to like about this movie, and where it lacks in story it makes up for in visuals. So I give "Hugo" an 8.9 out of 10, check it out because it is an instant classic.

What about you?

If you saw "Hugo", what did you think?

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    • profile image

      Lusio 3 years ago

      I'm one of a few admins on a site and we each have mulltpie computers, locations, and browsers we use.From what I can tell, your solution seems like it'll take care of all of that by just inserting your code problem is, where how/ does one use it?Obviously, I'm completely clueless on coding, I'm just a blogger who is tired of seeing 2/3 of our hits come from the admins (not to mention how much that's skewing the other results- notably time on site and bounce rate).Thank you for your help.

    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 6 years ago

      Great advice britishTV, and thank you for your input. What you say is very true, I guess 5-6 year olds may not be able to sit through this movie the same way that 9-10 year olds would. Thanks again for stopping by, it's always good to hear from you :)

    • britishTV profile image

      britishTV 6 years ago

      I loved "Hugo" - but I don't know that I'd call it a kid's movie in the sense that 5-6 year olds will be able to sit through it like they could "Shrek" or "Tangled." It's definitely for more mature children - maybe starting at 9-10 years old? I highly recommend parents read the book (which is AMAZING) to their children, and THEN have them see the movie. That's what I did, and my 7 & 8 year old children loved the movie as much as I did.

    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 6 years ago

      Your welcome Daniella, but I would recommend checking out if you can, it's really worth the money. Thanks for the comment :)

    • Daniella Lopez profile image

      Danielle Lopez 6 years ago from Arkansas

      Thanks for the very insightful review. All the commercials for the film have been rather vague on what the film is all about, so I haven't been very interested in seeing it. Voted up!

    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 6 years ago

      @Cogerson: Thanks for the comment, and vote Cogerson, as always :)

      @Stephhicks68: Thanks for the comment and vote Stephanie :)

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      It was a good movie, but slow to start. Since I'm not a film critic or reviewer, I'd be interested in what others have to say. Also, looking forward to film awards season. Rated up, Steph

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 6 years ago from Virginia

      Nice review....and with a strong 8.9 seems like it will be a movie worth checking always I will attach this to my Top Films of 2011 hub. Sorry about your Twilight review. Voted up and useful.

    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 6 years ago

      Hey Rob, Yep this is a must see film, I usually talk about both the positive and the negative sides of a movie so sorry for the confusion, but I mean every word of it. Thanks for stopping by :)

    • Robwrite profile image

      Rob 6 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

      Hi Carl; I thought at first you were giving it a negative review but then it turned around. This is on my list of movies to see. It looks very interesting.

      Thanks for the informative review,


    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 6 years ago

      Thanks Steven, I highly recommend checking "Hugo" out, it was a fun movie. As for the Twilight Hub, I'm not really worried about it, I posted it on "That Guy With The Glasses" so those who want to can check it out. Again thanks for your concern and I think you're right. Thanks for stopping by and can't wait to read your hubs as well :)

    • Stevennix2001 profile image

      Steven Escareno 6 years ago

      Thanks for another insightful review on this movie. To be honest, I still haven't seen this one yet, but it's definitely one that i plan on checking out soon. i was debating on whether or not to see it in 3-d, but after reading this review, i think i will. anyway, thanks for the recommendation.

      By the way, I'm sorry to hear about what happened with your twilight review, as I had no idea that happened to you. However, it does seem weird that someone would flag your hub like that, as you never struck me as the type to ever plagarize anyone, and I doubt you'd ever would. But then again, it might've been some angry fan of the franchise that didn't like your review, as I know most teenage girls can be dangerous when you criticize their favorite things (i.e. justin bieber followers for example). It's crazy, but I'm sorry to hear it happened though.

      However, keep up the good work though, and forget about those haters, as we all know that your hub was really banned for b.s. reasons if you ask me.