Hugo appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Expect a terrific presentation here.
Overall sharpness looked strong. A smidgen of softness crept into a couple of wider shots, but those instances were infrequent. Instead, the majority of the image was tight and concise.
I noticed no shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes remained absent. As expect, the movie lacked print flaws or any form of defects.
In a world of orange and teal palettes, Hugo offered one of the orange and tealest. As a personal preference, I disliked this choice, but I couldn’t fault the Blu-ray, as it reproduced the hues with nice punch and range.
Blacks appeared deep and dark, and shadows showed nice clarity. Across the board, the image satisfied.
I also liked the pretty good DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack of Hugo. Actually, the film’s audio during its first act was a little more subdued than expected, but the soundscape kicked into higher gear as the movie progressed.
With a wide variety of action sequences, the mix managed to deliver a higher level of engulfing material. In particular, elements at the train station – including a massive crash - tended to give us a broad, impactful auditory experience.
Music seemed warm and dynamic, with good kick. Effects followed suit, as those elements contributed accurate, vivid material.
Speech was always natural and distinctive. Though it started out a bit slowly, the track ended up as a real winner.
In terms of extras, Hugo comes with five featurettes, and we start with Shoot the Moon: The Making of Hugo. It runs 19 minutes, 48 seconds and offers notes from director Martin Scorsese, producer Graham King, author Brian Selznick, screenwriter John Logan, animal trainer Mathilde De Cagny, visual effects supervisor Robert Legato, production designer Dante Ferretti, and actors Chloe Grace Moretz, Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Frances de la Tour, Christopher Lee, Sacha Baron Cohen.
“Moon” looks at the project’s roots and development, story, characters and the adaptation of the source, cast and performances, animals on the set, shooting 3D, and set design. “Moon” offers a brisk and fairly engaging little overview of these topics.
Next comes The Cinemagician, a 15-minute, 41-second show with Scorsese, Selznick, King, Kingsley, Moretz, Georges Méliès’s great-great-granddaughter Pauline Duclaud-Lacoste, film restorer/collector Serge Bromberg, and AMPAS Director of Educational Programs and Special Projects Randy Haberkamp.
“Cinemagician” offers a quick look at the life and career of Georges Méliès as well as Hugo’s take on the man’s films. While not a deep biography, it brings a decent summary that helps us view the facts behind Hugo’s fiction.
The Mechanical Man at the Heart of Hugo goes for 12 minutes, 45 seconds and features Scorsese, King, Butterfield, Moretz, Haberkamp, Kingsley, automaton makers Thomas King and Dug North and automaton manufacturer Dick George. “Heart” views the history of automata as well as the design/creation of the one in Hugo. This turns into another fairly informative show.
During the five-minute, 55-second Big Effects, Small Scale, we hear from visual effects supervisor/2nd unit director Rob Legato, miniatures crew chief Forest Fischer, model maker Patrick Dunn-Baker, visual effects supervisor Matthew Gratzner, and mechanical effects supervisor Scott Beverly.
“Scale” shows us the physical effects used to create the movie’s train crash sequence. It becomes a short but solid program, one that works better due to ample footage from the set.
Finally, Sacha Baron Cohen: Role of a Lifetime fills three minutes, 33 seconds and gives us comments from Kingsley, Cohen, King, Scorsese, and Butterfield. “Role” tells us how insubordinate and arrogant Cohen was on the set. Of course, it’s all a joke – and a reasonably amusing one, as it wraps up quickly enough to ensure the gag doesn’t become stale.
A departure for Martin Scorsese, Hugo finds the director uncomfortable in its genre. While the movie boasts sumptuous production values, it lacks a coherent story and it seems too slow and disjointed. The Blu-ray brings excellent picture and very good audio along with a decent selection of supplements. As much as I want to invest in Hugo, the end result leaves me cold.