Under the Radar

Marty Does One for the Kids



Actually it's probably not fair to call Martin Scorsese's latest film Hugo a "kid's movie" (out now in a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy combo pack). For one thing, Hugo is the best 2011 movie that actually got nominated for Best Picture (if not the actual best movie of 2011). For another, while the film's story features a great tribute to silent filmmaker Georges Méliès, the movie itself is more a tribute to the storytelling and filmmaking style of one of Scorsese's great influences, the British director Michael Powell (The Red Shoes, A Matter of Life and Death).

Hugo was conceived as a 3D movie and the Blu-ray version starts a little slowly because the really flashy 3D stuff doesn't work quite as well in two dimensions. Once you're past the beginning, things settle in and the book (Brian Selzinick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret) that seemed impossible to film when you read it to your kids a few years back comes to life beautifully as a movie, helped in no small part by great performances by Christopher Lee, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Emily Watson and Michael Stuhlbarg (a/k/a Boardwalk Empire's Arnold Rothstein).

This release comes with a documentary extras that detail how the movie uses a combination of practical and digital effects to tell the story, as well as excellent historical films about Méliès and the automatons that inspired the figure at the heart of Hugo. The dropoff in image quality from Blu-ray to DVD to digital (iTunes) and UltraViolet versions is even more pronounced that usual: Scorsese relies so much on visual detail that you really should try to buy or rent a physical copy of this movie when you want to see it.

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