I’ve watched so many movies this past year of 2011. I thank God for giving me such great opportunities to write movie reviews for KidsPickFlicks and Scholastic Kids Press Corps. These were some of my favorite movies that came out in 2011: You can read my movie reviews for Soul Surfer, Arthur Christmas, Dolphin Tale, Born to Be Wild, War Horse, Hugo, Winnie the Pooh, Courageous, On Stranger Tides, We Bought a Zoo, Adventures of Tin Tin, The Help, Mr Popper’s Penguins, Mars Needs Moms, Monte Carlo
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Chloe Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Sasha Baren Cohen
MPAA Rating: PG
Theatrical Release: November 23, 2011
Where do orphans live, if not the orphanage? An orphan named Hugo Cabret lives in the walls of a Paris train station, keeping the clocks running and trying hard to keep out of the Station inspector’s sight. Not only does he steal food to get by, but he also steals little wheels, bolts, and screws from a toyshop to fix up his late father’s automaton. He befriends another orphan, Isabelle, who is cared for by her godparents, the toyshop keeper. Together, they unravel a mystery that includes a heart-shaped key, a mysterious drawing, and the very place where dreams are made, leading them back to the most unlikeliest source.
Based on a child’s book by Brian Selznick, young children may have a hard time sitting throughout the film, although it is about two children on an adventure. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved it and tip my hat off to Martin Scorsese, the wonderful director, but some children may find the pace too slow, and some scenes are quite intense. I would only recommend this movie to tweens, teens, and adults who know how to take the time to admire this graceful, elegant, and artistic beauty of the intricate storyline and the 3D.
Ah, yes. The 3D. Marvelous, like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It doesn’t take away from the story a bit – in fact, it does exactly the opposite. Seeing the beautiful, antique, and complex designs of the clocks and hearing the gears whirl and click gave me shivers down my back. The chases are exhilarating, and when Hugo has a very real and scary dream in which a train comes almost right at the audience, I had the urge to jump out of the way. Stunning 3D, and it is not to be missed.
Asa Butterfield (Hugo) and Chloë Moretz (Isabelle) are wonderful actors – Asa especially, bringing so much depth to Hugo’s character. But the real wonder of the film was the historical reference to the “cinemagician” of the 19th century, Georges Méliès, exquisitely played by Ben Kingsley. I was awed by the special effects in his “movies”, including the stop trick, time-lapse photography, and hand-painted color. Most of my peers would be bored seeing the old-fashioned way of making movies, but to me, the worlds he created in his studio were breath taking, out-of-this world, and eccentric material. It is thanks to this pioneer that now we can enjoy a wide array of movies. I found it wonderfully ironic that a movie using such modern technology was bringing back to life the early stages of cinema.
There was a moment I really enjoyed – where Hugo and Isabelle figure that everything has a purpose. “Everything has a purpose, even machines. If you lose your purpose, it’s like you’re broken.” Both Hugo and Georges were broken, and it was through this adventure that they repaired themselves and learned their purpose once again.
It may not seem like much, but somehow, it drew me deep into the story, bringing me close to tears. There is no way to capture the beauty I’ve seen on the screen with words. This is definitely a five star and a PICK!, and only for those who can truly appreciate the magic of the movies. To Martin Scorsese, the director, I would say this just like Isabelle said to Hugo after taking her to the movies: “Thank you for this movie. It was a gift.” Ages 11+