When Hugo came out the big deal was Martin Scorsese’s first 3D movie. Naturally, his was better than most others. Now 3D has largely passed, except for James Cameron, and 4K is the latest tech.
The double images filmed for 3D combine to form one singular 4k. I remember Blu-rays of movies shot in native 3D always looked better than standard films, and that holds true in 4K too.
Scorsese’s depiction of 1930s France combines CGI cityscapes and clockwork with practical sets fun of detail. Dust dances around the space to assure you that yes, you’re in 1930s France and this is real.
Some of those standout details include the shiny, rusty pipes and doors behind the station and the clockwork gears. When Hugo leaves the station, the snow coats the blue stone streets. The automaton is shiny with fine detail in closeup. The light shines off the tweed jackets and even library books.
Georges Melies sets come to life in full color with all the undersea and Arabian Knight costumes.
Hugo is a fun surround sound film too. Clocks tick and steam bursts in the rear. There’s an echo when the station is silent. Papers flutter around the whole room.
The film disc includes a new commentary by Melies historian Jon Spira. Spira gives some actual Melies history, and points out some anachronisms fudged for dramatic purposes. In between Melies scenes, Spira comments on the other actors or filmmakers, which is a bit more basic research but keeps the commentary moving for over two hours. He is correct that Hugo did not lead to a silent film renaissance and that is a shame, but it’s not too late.
The review copy did not include the third disc of bonus features, but given the bonus feature on the original 2011 Paramount Blu-ray and Arrow’s track record for producing bonus feature, it’s easy to imagine they will make a fine addition to the full collection.