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Martin Scorsese
Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz, Ben Kingsley
Writing Credits:
John Logan

In Paris in 1931, an orphan named Hugo Cabret who lives in the walls of a train station is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton.

Box Office:
$150 Million.
Opening Weekend
$11,364,505 on 1277 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Dolby Vision
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English LPCM 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 126 min.
Price: $49.99
Release Date: 7/18/2023

• 3D Blu-ray Version
• Audio Commentary with Film Historian Jon Spira
• Interviews
• “Ian Christie on Hugo” Featurette
• “Secret Machines” Featurette
• “Creating New Worlds” Featurette
• “Papa Georges Made Movies” Featurette
• “Melies at the Time of Hugo” Featurette
• “Shoot the Moon” Featurette
• “The Cinemagician” Featurette
• “The Mechanical Man at the Heart of Hugo” Featurette
• “Big Effects, Small Scale” Featurette
• “Role of a Lifetime” Featurette
• Trailer
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Hugo [4K UHD] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 10, 2023)

Martin Scorsese embraces his inner Spielberg with 2011’s Hugo. Set in 1931, orphaned adolescent Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) leads a meager existence without adult supervision, as he lives alone in a Parisian train station.

Hugo owns a broken automaton, a last connection to his late father (Jude Law). Along with the assistance of shopkeeper’s goddaughter Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), Hugo attempts to locate a key he believes will revive the mechanical man – and deliver a special message from his deceased daddy.

As I implied at the start, Hugo doesn’t bring us a story that screams “Scorsese”. As also indicated, this smells a whole lot more like something the director’s peer Steven Spielberg would make.

To me, the big question became whether or not Scorsese could muster the magic, warmth and whimsy a project like Hugo requires. Those don’t seem to be sentiments we attach to Scorsese, so I entered the film with skepticism.

Still, a stellar career earned Scorsese the benefit of the doubt, and the movie’s consistently strong reviews worked to interest me. Heck, Hugo even managed an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, a high honor for a tale of this sort.

I’ve now seen Hugo three times, and I must admit I don’t quite get all the praise. Aspects of the film work fairly well, but the end result feels slow and inconsistent.

Some of the problems stem from the story’s uncertain focus. During its first act, Hugo plays like an alternate form of Oliver Twist, an orphan’s tale of survival. We focus on the title character and his attempts to pursue his goals.

However, as the movie progresses, it shifts fairly radically and becomes much more about the shopkeeper, one Georges Méliès (Ben Kingsley). Film buffs will know Méliès as the man who created some of cinema’s most famous early efforts in the early 1900s, and Hugo brings across a fictionalized version of the filmmaker.

When the tale focuses more on Méliès, Scorsese goes into pedantic mode and essentially turns Hugo into a lesson on the history of cinema. This sounds better on paper than in reality, as the change feels jarring and disconnected from the overall narrative.

The script of Hugo remains the main culprit here, as it feels long on plot points but short on real narrative movement and magic. The movie proceeds from one semi-isolated scenario to another without great connection and fails to integrate the pieces in a wholly satisfying manner.

I also feel Scorsese was the wrong man for this job, as he simply doesn’t demonstrate the nimble touch needed for this kind of fable. Scorsese creates a meticulously crafted world but not one that becomes especially engaging, so the situations and characters rarely earn our investment.

I don’t want to come down too hard on Hugo, as I don’t think it ever turns into a bad film. I just feel it lacks the vivacity and charm it aspires to present, factors that make it slow and without great dimensionality. It’s a great-looking effort but not one with a lot of warmth or humanity.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B+/ Bonus A-

Hugo appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Expect a terrific Dolby Vision 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 4K, as it reproduced the hues with nice punch and range. HDR made the tones even oranger and tealer than ever.

Blacks appeared deep and dark, and shadows showed nice clarity. HDR added impact to whites and contrast. 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.

How did this 4K UHD release compare to the Arrow Blu-ray from 2023? Both offered identical audio.

The Dolby Vision 4K offered a modest boost over the Blu-ray, mainly due to HDR. Because Hugo was finished as a 2K product, I didn’t see any obvious improvements in definition.

HDR brought some extra range to colors and blacks. Still, I wouldn’t call it a major upgrade over the Blu-ray.

Note that Paramount released their own Blu-ray in 2012. I found it to look/sound virtually the same as the 2023 Arrow Blu-ray, so it came with identical comparisons to the 4K.

This package includes both 2D and 3D Blu-ray versions of Hugo. The 3D Hugo added a terrific sense of depth.

It always brought out a nice feeling of immersion, and some scenes – like those in towers or connected to trains – managed to really involve the viewer. Throw out the occasional “pop-out” effect and this became a pleasing 3D image.

The 3D Blu-ray became the better way to watch compared to the 2D Blu-ray, but what happened when I brought the 4K into the mix? I still preferred the 3D.

As mentioned, the 4K brought modest improvements over the 2D Blu-ray, but the 3D added so much to the presentation that it remained the best way to go. Whatever visual upgrade came from the 4K didn’t compensate for the loss of impact from the 3D.

Note that 2012 also saw a 3D Blu-ray for Hugo. The 2023 Arrow version looked/sounded virtually identical to it.

On the 4K disc, we find the movie’s trailer as well as a circa 2023 audio commentary from film historian Jon Spira. He presents a running, screen-specific look at the life/career of Georges Méliès, aspects of the history of early cinema, cast and crew, 3D filmmaking, the movie's release/reception and various production notes.

For the most part, Spira gives us a fairly informative chat, though one that degenerates into basic appreciation for Hugo too much of the time. While we get a reasonable amount of useful material here, the tendency toward praise makes the discussion less productive than I'd prefer.

A second disc offers the aforementioned 2D/3D Blu-ray versions of the film.

When we shift to Disc Three – which offers a Blu-ray - we find five featurettes from the original release. 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, and 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, 40-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, 54-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.

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.

From here we go to extras new to the Arrow 2023 release, and three segments show up under Interviews. This category encompasses chats with author Brian Selznick (54:49), director of photography Robert Richardson (40:02) and composer Howard Shore (13:49).

One can anticipate the subjects discussed by each subject. Selznick looks at his novel and the film’s adaptation, while Richardson covers cinematography and Shore gets into music.

With nearly an hour at his disposal, Selznick digs into his book with uncommon depth, so expect a thorough and extremely informative piece. Richardson’s interview also proves strong, especially via the manner in which he tells us about his collaboration with Martin Scorsese.

A much shorter piece, the Shore chat lacks the same level of detail but nonetheless gives us worthwhile insights. All three interviews prove useful.

Ian Christie on Hugo goes for 23 minutes, 12 seconds. It offers notes from film scholar Christie.

He discusses his view of the film, both good and bad. Christie clearly likes the movie but he generates enough criticism to make his view seem even-handed.

Next comes Secret Machines, an 18-minute, 17-second “visual essay” from filmmaker/critic Scout Tafoya.

“Machines” examines how Hugo fits into the Scorsese filmography as well as some themes/interpretation. We find a decent array of insights, though too much of “Machines” just consists of movie shots.

Creating New Worlds lasts 37 minutes, 43 seconds. Here we hear from film journalist Julien Dupuy.

In this piece, Dupuy goes to the Musee Méliès in Paris and also discusses aspects of Georges Méliès’s life/career. He gives us a pretty solid overview.

After this we find the 10-minute, five-second Papa Georges Made Movies. It visits the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum and involves film historian Pamela Hutchinson.

She leads us on a tour of the museum and offers some connections to Hugo. Though we find some useful notes, too much of the reel feels like an advertisement.

Méliès at the Time of Hugo spans seven minutes, 43 seconds. It offers more info from Jon Spira.

For this featurette, Spira covers what the title implies: Méliès’s life/career during the period examined in Hugo. Some of this repeats from Spira’s commentary but he nonetheless makes this a tight recap.

Finally, an Image Gallery presents 25 stills that mix movie shots, pictures from the set and ads. This becomes a competent compilation.

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 4K UHD brings very good picture and audio along with a fine selection of supplements. As much as I want to invest in Hugo, the end result leaves me cold – though the included 3D version gives it an extra boost.

To rate this film visit the prior review of HUGO

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main