Saturday, December 3, 2011

Hugo: I am more than an automaton

Well, we fell for it. All of the talk about the film Hugo got to us and we had to go check it out for ourselves.

James Cameron saw it and said it was the best 3D movie to date, including Avatar. IMDB has it at 8.7/10 stars. Martin Scorcese directed it, so that's a plus. Barbara has a crush on Jude Law, so I didn't have to ask her twice. Reviews and critics hailing it as "Outstanding" and "An instant Classic" were expected. Someone called it the "Filmmaking Achievement of the year" and "The clear front runner for Best Picture". All of this from a PG rated 3D movie? I had to check it out. So, on Wednesday night at 1010pm Barbara, myself, and 4 other people in the theatre took in Hugo.

As is usually the case, when something is hyped that much it more than likely turns into a giant let down. The 3D was cool in some situations, like the opening scene at the train station, and it was annoying in other situations, like when the characters are standing around talking to each other, which happens a lot.

I've seen some real crap 3D. The Last Airbender was crap, post-production-added 3D. Literally, the most frustrating and annoying thing I've ever seen on a screen. It gave me a headache and the only relief I had was when I fell asleep in the middle of it.

Then, on Wednesday, we had all of the previews to watch in 3D. Of course, the preview were pretty cool to see, except for the post added stuff, like the new 3D version of Star Wars: Episode 1. The 3D added to that movie looks like crap. Will it make a billion dollars? You bet, but just when you think that they couldn't ruin Star Wars any further, they go out and find a way! It's really rather impressive, but also sad.

Side note. Someone said it best when they compared George Lucas' obsession over Star Wars to a sandwich he might have eaten back in the day. Here is the quote.

Anyways, the 3D in Hugo was pretty impressive, but I will say it again: watching a 2 hour movie in 3D, while wearing those glasses, is very distracting. Aside from the opening sequence I would have liked to watch Hugo without the 3D.

Driving home, Barbara and I discussed the film. The story was cool. The visuals were amazing. Sacha Baron Cohen was funny, but not too funny, which was perfect.

The problem was that the character's weren't developed enough. The movie seemed to flip flop back and forth between focusing on Hugo and Georges Melies. That was fine, until the end when it all ended up being about Georges Melies. I wasn't satisfied with how they ended it with Hugo. And, as it turned out, I didn't really care about him or George or anyone else for that matter. Well, I cared about George because they focused on him in the end. The problem was that there was too much going on for them to go deep in any area. This problem usually stems from the difficulty of turning a book into a movie. That is the case here.

I'm not talking about the whole "the book was better than the movie" argument. I've never read the book in this case, but I could tell that it was a book. All of the character development and detail of the book is squeezed out onto the screen in 2 hours. In order to have the movie make any sense they must follow the story. Working that way, the story is heavily leaned upon and the other areas of storytelling, character and theme, are to a certain extent ignored.

As far as Hugo goes, the theme was there but character development was ignored. The story was there but the emotions seemed hurried.

It almost makes me want to avoid film adaptations from books altogether.

Everybody!: "It almost makes me want to avoid film adaptations from books."

In the end, I will say that I am probably being too hard on little Hugo. It was an entertaining movie. I liked that about it. I liked the 3D in it better than Avatar even though Avatar had more movement and action in it. It was nice to see good 3D go along with a good story.

However, I am a human being and humans are emotional. I wanted to care about all of the characters in the end, not just Ben Kingsley. Because of the lack of character development, I went home unfulfilled. All of the glamour of 3D and all I wanted was a little bit of a connection.

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