I just got back from seeing Hugo, which I found absolutely magnificent the best movie Ive seen all year (as well as the best use of 3D that lately much-overused medium that Ive ever seen in a movie). I wish Georges Méliès could have seen it.
I was particularly pleased to see how good Asa Butterfield is, given that hes been cast as the lead in Orson Scott Cards Enders Game.
Speaking of Card, he has posted what struck me as a somewhat tone-deaf review of Hugo. Heres an excerpt:
In Hugo, Sacha Baron Cohen plays a crippled policeman. It is obvious oh so obvious that the movie wants us to think his attempts to chase Hugo through a train station are funny.
We are supposed to be amused when his leg brace jams and he has to manually free up the hinge.
But my reaction was initially to be appalled: What, are cripples supposed to be funny again? Will Scorsese next bring on a retarded person for us to laugh at?
Soon, though, I left appalled behind and was merely bored. Yeah, yeah, funny funny, were all so amused, move on with the story.
I thought this response by Aros is almost absolutely right (almost because no comedy (at all) goes too far):
[Card sees] the scenes with Sacha Baron Cohen chasing Hugo through the station …. as failed attempts at comedy. I am astonished. Not only did I see no comedy (at all) in the film, but I thought these scenes were WONDERFUL. First, they gave a believable excuse for fantastic cinematography. Second, they showed the characters devotion to his duty, to his job, and to his world-view. Yes, he is crippled, and it causes him physical pain to chase the children. Furthermore, by following his duty he is flagrantly (and regrettably) telegraphing his weakness, of which he is very ashamed, to the woman he loves. Far from being humorous, I felt that the scenes were both very endearing character portraits (from Cohens perspective) and very lively 3D set pieces (from Hugo and the audiences). I felt tension, wondering if Hugo would escape. The scenes hit every note correctly I cannot conceive how one would believe that they were meant to be humorous.
I would add that Cohens character is pretty clearly a reference to Inspector Javert; after all, Jean Valjean even gets name-checked at one point.