Friday, March 20, 2015

Movie Review: Hugo (2011) (Featuring Will Hoheisel from "Reviews You Can Use")


For the last few posts, I have expressed my great interest in conducting collaborations with individuals that I feel are some of the great bloggers, vloggers, and reviewers that I have interacted with. I did this with my friend and web show editor, John, back in January in a post where we discussed the NFL playoffs. This time around, I will be reviewing a movie that was released back in 2011 based off of a Brian Selznick novel released in 2007. The novel was titled The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and the movie was known as Hugo, directed by Martin Scorsese.
The person that will be discussing this with me is a great friend of mine and someone I wrote with back in high school! Yep, while I was reporting tournaments and launching Caponomics, this gentleman was creating his own column known as Reviews You Can Use. He even took the step of creating a segment on our school's channel. Hopefully, he takes even more steps (like start a blog). This is Will Hoheisel. Will, welcome to my blog!


Well, thank you very much, Josh! Thanks for inviting me to be a part of this review!


It is my pleasure! I will now grant you the honor of summarizing this film.


With pleasure!

This is a historical fiction story that takes place in a Paris train station in the year 1931. Our main character is a boy named Hugo Cabret (it rhymes with beret). A few months prior to the events of the story, his father discovers an "automaton," an amazing human-like machine that can write thanks to a series of complicated clockwork/machinery within its body. The machine is broken, however. So, being clockmakers by trade, Hugo and his father decide to fix it.

Unfortunately, Hugo's father tragically dies in a fire at the local museum, and the boy is forced to live with his drunk uncle in the secret "Timekeeper's Apartments" at the train station. There, Hugo learns how to learn manage the clocks throughout the building, and keep them all in time with each other. Then, one day, his uncle mysteriously disappears, and the boy is forced to tend to the clocks on his own, and he's remained here since.

While living and surviving within the walls of the train station, Hugo also takes time to locate spare pieces to try and finish repairing the automaton (one of the few things he brought with him), so he can see the "message" that it's sure to write (which he believes will be from his father). He finds most of these pieces in a toy booth run by a cranky, but also mysterious, old man. One day, Hugo gets caught in the act of stealing, and suddenly, his world (of secrets and machinery) collides not only with that of the old man but also his book-loving god-daughter, Isabelle. What follows is one adventure after another that, ultimately, ends up with Hugo seeing this mysterious message, which leads him toward incredible revelations and a safe place that he can call "home."

I'm not going to lie to you, Josh, but this is one of my all-time favorite films! Top 10 easily!

I love the diverse cast of characters! I love the parallel stories of a boy trying to find his purpose and a safe haven, and a man who's lost his purpose who needs "fixing." I love the Academy-Award winning cinematography and special effects that literally bring you into this magical environment. There's a good reason why I believe this is the best 3-D experience I've ever experienced at the cinema! Most of all, I love the atmosphere. The movie is so well told, visualized, and realized, that you can't help but become invested in the story and feel for these characters.


I am usually a stickler for a film being loyal to text. I would not say that this was perfectly reliable, but I think that the film and the text were able to create compromises for one another's flaws. I feel that the visuals and the stories were the strongest part, because a conclusion can be made that while the automaton was physically broken, in a way, so were the characters.

However, they were repaired in some way or another.


You know, that's a good point, Josh. I know that the old man was the primary one who needed "fixing." How do you believe some of the other characters were "fixed?"


Georges is one of those that was so successful, but was reduced to becoming a toy shop owner in a train station. I feel that Hugo is, in fact, someone that not necessarily needed to be "fixed," but is instead in a period of "building." I felt that the movie made him much friendlier than he was in the book. In the book, he was a thief just about throughout the entire piece, his interactions with Isabelle were shakier, and things got so intense that he had his hand slammed on him and it interfered with the flow of how Hugo went about things. Georges and Hugo were just two individuals that were coming from opposite directions, but just needed to find some way to meet in the middle of what they were each going through. This middle ground was an idea of where each of them wanted to be.

This brings me to the idea of how the station inspector was given a much larger role. I felt a lot of that had to do with humor, because he came off as much more of a comic relief instead of a feared figure at the station. Of course, this is Sacha Baron Cohen we are talking about...


Of course.
The Station Inspector, I think, was still a "threat" from the perspective of Hugo and the other orphans, but I love how the movie also made him "human" and capable of error/problems. Sacha really capitalized on the humorous aspects of the character (I still crack up when he crashes into a musician's cello, gets back up, and says "As you were." to everyone!), as well as the tragic side (when he's trying to talk to the flower girl while suffering from a war injury).

On the note of kids, I love the chemistry between Asa Butterfield and Chloe Moretz, who played Hugo and Isabelle. Asa was great at performing the sad and secretive side of Hugo as well as the curious side, while Chloe showed great enthusiasm, but also concern, as Isabelle.

Do you think the relationship between Hugo and Isabelle was better conveyed in the book or the movie? Personally, I like the movie version better.

Also, I agree that the story and visuals of the movie are its strongest assets.


I agree that both Asa Butterfield and Chloe Grace Moretz were the perfect selections to play Hugo and Isabelle, respectively. I also agree with the idea that the movie captured their relationship a bit better. Then again, I felt Hugo's character was a bit more likeable in the film and that the film was able to patch up the flaws I was not particularly fond of in the book.

As for the Station Inspector (Gustave), I feel that they allowed him to be more than just an inspector that keeps things in line. I tackle with the question of whether or not his role was too much or was it just enough.


I will just briefly give note to four more little things:

1. Its ties with early cinema. It's so cool to think about how the early "magicians" of cinema were inspired to create magic on the screen, and Melies and his crew made making movies look so fun and exciting. It makes me appreciate the art form more and inspires me to pursue my own dreams.

2. The "Purpose" Scene: One of the scenes I felt was executed equally well in both versions of the story (with a slight edge to the movie). Very powerful in its simplicity, and it's still makes me consider what purpose God has given me to perform within this "earthly machine" of His.

3. Howard Shore's Oscar-nominated Score: The "Lord of the Rings" composer creates a gem of a score for this movie that evokes the French setting and beautifully conveys the uplifting, sad, and mysterious moments of the story. I still get teary-eyed during the final credits song.

4. Brian Selznick Cameo: Within the final two-minute shot of the movie, the author of the original "Hugo" book makes an appearance as a film academy student. He's the one with black hair and glasses walking with Georges and Tebard.

Overall, this is an amazing movie. Like the automaton, it has the potential to fill you with wonder at its story, the messages, and the incredible art forms brought to light within it (film and literature, particularly). I've loved every viewing, and I look forward to many more and hopefully, sharing this gem with other people, some of whom may feel broken within this world.

If you haven't seen this incredible film yet, do so! I guarantee you won't regret it!

I give the book 8.5 film cameras out of 10, and the movie "Hugo" 10 automatons out of 10!


As I said before, I think that where the book lacks, the film addresses and succeeds at, and vice-versa. If there was one thing I wish they did, it was find some way to include Etienne in the film. I felt he was one of the strongest side characters in the film and in some particular way, they could have fit him in. I liked how they kept the bookshop owner and assigned the role to the great Christopher Lee, who did a fine job, but I think that with most Hollywood films, they do their best to cater to their big names. This is partly why Isabelle and The Station Inspector get larger roles.

I still think that I was a part of the magic that this film had to offer and that I could feel the thrill that Hugo and those around him felt. I agree that the film does a better job in capturing Hugo's modesty, but I feel the book addresses the step by step issues a bit better. Still, if we are judging the film as a film, it was quite nice!

I will do the verdict as you do. I give the book 8 rocket ships out of 10 and the film 8 wind-up mice out of 10. I think that in each way, the book and film were respectively magnificent. They excelled in their imagery and in the growth or re-growth of their characters, even if they had their little flaws.

Those are some good observations that you make about Brian Selznick's cameo. The one observation that I made was that during the first chase, I swore that I saw James Joyce sitting and mingling with someone.

I most certainly agree that both the book and film do a spectacular job in capturing Paris during a time that it was flourishing in history.


I will finish by saying that sometimes, the "flaws" in something are what make a piece of work special. I'm not saying that's the case for "Hugo," but flaws can have two perks:

1. They show that nothing on Earth is "perfect," no matter how great it is.

2. They allow viewers/readers to develop their imaginations/thinking and create their own unique and special opinions/perspectives.

3. It was James Joyce at the table, mingling with Salvador Dali.

On that note, I agree with you in that I think both the "Hugo" book and movie compliment each other as non-perfect partners.

Also, you're right in that Paris looked absolutely stunning!

Listen, Josh, thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of this collaboration. It was a pleasure talking with you about this very special movie. Not bad for Martin Scorsese directing his first "kid's movie," eh?


Will, I want to thank you for taking time to participate in this review. It is always a delight to work on a collaboration like this and hopefully I will be able to read, follow, and promote Reviews You Can Use when it becomes the next big thing!

I certainly agree that nothing can be perfect, just things that are perfect for the beholder. Martin Scorsese did quite a fine job not just as a director for his first children's film, but also adapting it from a book that was targeted for children. I certainly agree that the book and movie complimented each other as being non-perfect partners.

Thank you again, Will!

No problem, Josh, and thank you too!



  1. Great review and debate Will and Josh! Will, good luck with your blog!

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Kevin! Hopefully we see a Reviews You Can Use blog very soon, but that will be up to Will as to when. Once it is up, I will definitely share it on here!