After seeing how well this film did at the Oscars (despite my initial disinterest in the trailer), I thought I'd give it a watch. I can say though after seeing this movie I am neither disappointed, but not entirely ecstatic about the movie either. (Especially since I have very high expectations of Martin Scorsese)
I'll start off with what didn't really work for me in this movie so I can get my dislikes out of the way, and my biggest gripe is by far the inspector. I guess he was supposed to be the villain or something but he just came off as an annoyance that distracted you from the actual plot of the movie, you didn't care about his romance, you didn't care about his leg, you didn't care that he'd chase down children, you didn't care about his backstory, you just didn't care about the character. I guess this can also speak a lot that I don't like the actor who plays the inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen) who always reminds of a stale version of Johnny Depp (who I am also not a fan of). But I will say it may not have been the actor's fault completely simply because the character was so bad, he was off-putting, the chase scene was plain annoying, and his dog brought a lot of the 'realism' out of this film. The character just didn't work at all for me and I do believe that this would have been a much better movie if he just wasn't in it, because he just plain wasn't needed. I also wasn't a huge fan of the other train station side character's, I get that their little sub-plot's were supposed to be comic relief, but again they were just distracting and didn't work, you didn't need them. Also, Hit Girl was in this movie (ok, ok fine Chloe Moretz) and her performance seemed kind off and on, sometimes there was something good coming out and sometimes there wasn't, and the ending monologue she gave was kind of tacky and unnecessary.
My next gripes about this movie was that it felt like it took overly long for anything in it to get done (and this is from somebody who usually likes slow movies), and a lot of that wasn't necessarily with the pacing but that they spent extra time on unnecessary character's for the movie that could have easily been cut (the inspector, the old man and that old lady with the dog, the annoying inspector dog) and it would have made the movie flow a little better and work less like a slow grinding gear that needs fixing (pun intended), the way they paced it made it to boring for kids and at times a little to tacky and cheesy for adults (at certain times, at certain times the tackiness came off charmingly).
Now, with my main gripes aside I will say there was a lot about this film that I did like and it kind of made up for what I didn't like. The story was interesting (although some of the lines were fairly cliche at times) and brought a great performance from the young actor, Asa Butterfield. I thought he did a fine job carrying the film (with good support from Ben Kingsley in his role) and kept me intrigued to say the least. Also, despite much of the tackiness that could go on at times the movie had some great moments and great parts in the screenplay. It was very inventive and a unique way to write a love story to the old silent cinema.
Next, on a technical level the movie is phenomenal with some great cinematography and soundtrack that left a magical, enchanting feel to the movie. It was the technical level of this film that helped to keep you intrigued and interested despite some of the cliche tackiness that could go on at times. The movie never brought me anywhere on a real emotional level, although no moments were really taken to attempt and do so. With all these great technical feats though, the movie truly shined with it's homage to cinema, that again, although could be tacky, was very much appreciated by a person who likes cinema.
Overall, there is much to love about this film and lot's of moments of near greatness from a strong performance by Asa Butterfield (for his age), great technical feats, and (at times) masterfully written love letters to early cinema, however the film ultimately loses it's winning edge by it's over-tackiness which was undoubtedly put in there to attempt and please younger viewers as well (which is strange considering although it is a family movie, I don't see how it's overly entertaining to young children, it's a movie I think would make them more restless. Maybe it's good for a slightly older child) as well as the inclusion of character's that just didn't fit into the movie that well. Hugo is a faulty (yet still very enjoyable) film, especially for any lover of classic cinema.
6.5/10 Sticks of Bamboo