An adventure movie doesn’t always have to involve traveling to far away lands, traveling through time or even involve explosions. Sometimes, an adventure and occur right in your backyard, or in the case of Hugo, in your own train station. Martin Scorsese directs this adventure film starring Asa Butterfield as Hugo, a boy whose father was tragically killed in a fire and now lives at the train station with his Uncle Claude (Ray Winstone).
Hugo spends most of his days alone, sneaking in and out of the tunnels of the train stations, shoplifting from the market and shopkeepers but also helping to keep the many clocks properly wound in keeping them up with the correct time. When Hugo is caught trying to steal from Georges (Ben Kingsley), a toy shop owner, an odd relationship develops. Initially it’s a relationship based on distaste toward each other as Hugo has a reputation of being a thief, however, Georges takes something of Hugo’s that he refuses to give back: a notebook full of peculiar drawings. Little is revealed about the story behind the book, or why Georges has become visibly upset over its contents. His goddaughter Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz) forges a friendship with Hugo as she tries to figure out what’s going on as well. But only because she loves secrets and has never been on an adventure.
Hugo isn’t a fast paced movie but it provides the visuals that help to properly tell the story. You’re no longer merely watching the movie on the screen, you’re experiencing it firsthand. This aspect is embraced by how the movie is beautifully filmed, with many instances of detailed shots of the gears and machines that make themselves so prominent in this 1920s-based movie, and in the storyline itself. Hugo’s main priority is to try to find a message left behind by his father in a robot they had both been working on before his father’s death. Georges main priority is for Hugo to forget about the book and move on. Such detail places you in the movie itself, rather than on the side or feeling like you’re on the set but rather in the actual movie, experiencing the time and events as they unfold.
Underneath the incredible visuals lies a story based in sadness. While it’s not hard to follow, the story is very well developed with great character development on both sides of the coin. We get to know Hugo while also learning who Papa Georges is based on what he chooses to reveal about himself.
Martin Scorsese is well regarded with the movies he’s worked on and even though he’s stepped away from familiar territory with a movie like Hugo, his work shines brightly. Taking every aspect of the film into consideration, Hugo is easily all-around, one of the year’s best films.