Hugo (Blu-ray Review)

So the Oscars came and went and Hugo won like 23 of them or so along with The Artist. I jest, but Hugo did get nominated for 11 Oscars including Best Picture and ended the night with 5 statuettes. That’s a great ratio. Hugo won 5 technical awards – it won for Best Cinematography, Art Direction, Visual Effects, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. Yes, these are all technical achievements, but once you see the film for yourself then you’ll see why it deserved to have won much more than what it did. I know that by teasing like that you’ll already know what my opinion of Hugo may or may not be. Go forth.  


Hugo is the tale of a young boy named Hugo Cabret, an orphan, who lives in a train station on the outskirts of glitzy Paris in 1931. Hugo (Asa Butterfield) is a precocious boy who goes about his daily life stealing a croissant here and some milk there. In some of the flashback scenes we are shown that Hugo was close to hist father (Jude Law) and that they both shared a hobby of fixing things – his father being a clock maker and all. His father finds an old automaton and they set on fixing it bringing back to its original luster.

That all ends when a mysterious fire burns down the museum that Hugo’s father was working in and leaves the boy in the care of his alcoholic uncle who is the current keeper of the clocks at the train station. Hugo becomes his apprentice, but his uncle quickly shakes the spot and leaves Hugo to fend for himself all alone. Hot on the trail of orphans, wrongdoers and miscreants is the Station Inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen) who is ruthless in his attempts to keep order at the station.

Along the way and while snagging a trinket here and a trinket there Hugo comes up on a toy shop in the far edge of the station that is run by an old man named Georges (Ben Kingsley). Georges catches Hugo red handed and makes him give back all the little gears and whatnots that Hugo has been collecting. While emptying out his pockets old man Georges finds Hugo’s sketchbook and notices strange sketches of the automaton that shock Georges so much so that he takes the book from Hugo and threatens to burn it. Hugo remains committed to get the book back and befriends Georges niece Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz).

The two kids get along well enough and pass the time discovering each others worlds. Isabelle shows Hugo the wonders of books and Hugo shows her the wonders of movies. Up until then Isabelle had never seen a film due to her uncle forbidding it. Hugo, being the layered feast of sights and sounds that it is, also has a layered enough storyline which never drags, but sets up different plotlines here and there that resolve themselves as the film goes on.

I’m not really sure why I hesitated so long in seeing Hugo (ahem, the 3-D prices), but I am glad that I finally was able to make it to the theaters in time to catch it on the big screen. It does the film incredible justice to have seen it on a large screen and in legit 3-D. It’s also surprising to see that Martin Scorsese, out of all people, would direct something as pure and accessible to the general public as Hugo. Yes, we know that Scorsese has been around a for a long time and that he’s considered to be a great director and all, but I never thought he would make a “children’s” film. Hell, I never thought he’d ever make a film without Leonardo DiCaprio ever again! 😉

Hugo is based on the award winning novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. I have not read the book yet, but am looking forward to it. In watching the film a 2nd time in as many days I was able to gather even more about the messages that were hidden and those shown outright. Hugo is a fairytale journey sprinkled in with Scorsese’s own views. Scorsese is a fan of film and an advocate of film conservation and he has stated how important that is for the world – in its preservation and to make it available for future generations. I love how these messages are so richly tied in to the story of Hugo that it makes you actually think without it hitting you over the head. It’s a very subtle message, but the film is entertaining that it doesn’t come off as self serving or agenda-ridden. I would also go so far as to say that Hugo is a live action “steam punk” adventure. Those interested in that sub-genre will totally get a kick out of it.

Hugo is rated PG, but should be okay for younger viewers to handle. There are one or two intense sequences of peril, but it shouldn’t be a problem. Hugo is a modern day masterpiece and a love letter to the film medium and should be required viewing for anyone who wants to work in the movies or take them up as a hobby. Hell, it should be required viewing if you’re human. There’s magic here and it needs to be shared with EVERYONE!



Hugo is presented in 1080p – 1.85:1 – widescreen. Someone pass me a spoon, because this print looks scrumptious enough to eat off the screen like ice cream. Seriously. The color palette is drenched in frosty sepia-like colors and textures that accentuate the browns, golds, bronzes, but don’t over-saturate the flesh and general color palette. Flesh tones look natural and never flush with red unless it calls for emotions like when someone gets hurt or cries. Hugo did win an Oscar for Best Costume Design and they are all on display in this high definition transfer for everyone to see. Sacha Baron Cohen’s cobalt blue uniform was made for the high definition format. It’s a character unto itself. It’s a reference video presentation all the way!



Hugo is presented in DTS-HD MA 7.1. All aboard! This lossless track will have no trouble transporting you to the train station where Hugo takes place. In fact, if you’re not careful, you may get run over by the train. Dialogue cuts through like a butter knife – it’s smooth and clean. You will be able to decipher all tones from the various accents used. Yes, you’ll even be able to understand Ray Winstone clearly in his drunken state without a problem. Music, chatter, clocks, gears, and every other imaginable sound come through with such clarity that I had to make sure my watch was working properly. I don’t wear a watch! The LFE channel steps up to the challenge and knocks it out of park during a few exciting sequences of peril. The rear channels pick up on nearby conversations in addition to gears churning about in the clock tower interiors. The audio presentation on this Blu-ray is totally reference quality.



Extras, read all about ’em! Well, not really, and that’s a shame. All we get is several featurettes on the making-of aspects of the film along with a really funny featurette featuring Sacha Baron Cohen talking about the “role of a lifetime.” It’s pretty hilarious. I wish there was a commentary, deleted scenes, and all sorts of other little nuggets that could have been thrown in, but oh well, it is what it is.


  • Shoot the Moon – The Making of Hugo
  • The Cinemagician, George Melies
  • The Mechanical Man at the Heart of Hugo
  • Big Effects, Small Scale
  • Sacha Baron Cohen: Role of a Lifetime



Yep, the hype machine is real. Hugo is a masterpiece of storytelling and who knew that out of all the directors out there Marty Scorsese would be the one to bring this magical tale of the love for movies to the big screen? Okay, it’s not that far fetched, but Scorsese isn’t known for kids films, if you get my meaning. It’s a bloody shame that Hugo technically bombed at the box-office, but I am sure it will recover those losses on Blu-ray and DVD. Hugo is required viewing for people of all ages and especially for those that call themselves “dreamers.” Here’s hoping that Hugo will be that kick in the pants that you need to follow those dreams. It’s downright inspiring.


P.S. I cheated with the final score. Usually, the low score of the extras would have dropped the overall rating down a bit, but I believe in the final product so much that I will cheat on the final grade. Sue me. 😉



Order Hugo on Blu-ray!



Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

9 Responses to “Hugo (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Matt Goodman

    I absolutely adored the film. To anyone who has yet to see it, go to your local theater ASAP and catch it in 3D before it’s gone!

  2. Brian White

    No theaters in 3D here, but I’m stoked about watching it for the very first time tonight on Blu!

  3. Aaron Neuwirth

    You know where I stand on this…very freaking high. Well said Gerard.

  4. Brian White

    Alright. Well I promised Aaron I would be respectable.
    The PQ was outstanding here. There’s no doubt about how this would have looked in 3D
    I had no qualms with the audio
    My disc is a rental so I have no special features
    There is no denying the charm and message here. Sadly, I just remained bored throughout waiting for it to pick up and it never did IMO
    That robot dude was creepy as hell
    Oh well. Too each their own. I’m happy I seen it. I’m respectful towards it. I just could never watch it again.

  5. Kori Kemerer

    I was excited to see this movie. Unfortunately ten minutes into it I found myself YAWNING. I gave it the benefit of the doubt and held on as long as I could, which was about half way through, before I had to turn it off. Just could not get into it at all. Way too slow and painful to watch in my opinion.

  6. Aaron Neuwirth

    This all reminds me of how much I can’t wait to watch it again. Such a great film that rewards repeat viewings, full viewings.

  7. Brian White

    I envy Kori above, I stuck with it until the very end and I wasn’t rewarded with anything 🙁

    Do you think this movie would ever be suitable for a child to watch? I don’t believe so, but I was just wondering.

    The first 15 minutes before the HUGO logo even graced the screen had me bored to tears. I kept hoping it would get better. The theme was proudly on display, but I could’t help wanting so much more from this film.

  8. Gerard Iribe

    Cool story, guys.

  9. Gregg

    I, like Kori above, lasted a mere ten minutes. I never get up and walk away from a film but now I’ve done it twice in the last two weeks (the other being the awful ‘In Time’). I will revisit ‘Hugo’ and give it a second chance only because so many rave about it. Maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind and I’ll dig it or maybe this movie really won’t do anything for me. So far, swinging at the first pitch was a big miss.