Viewed – 10 March 2012  Blu-ray

Few director’s have the encyclopaedic knowledge of cinema that Martin Scorsese does.  He’s a living and breathing movie historian, and the perfect choice to direct the adaptation of a children’s book that pays homage to the godfather of cinema, Georges Méliès .. a man who pioneered a wealth of camera techniques and special effects, delivering over 500 movies that pushed the definition of what was possible on film.  The story here follows a young orphan boy named Hugo (Asa Butterfield), who following the death of his father (Jude Law), is given the responsibility of looking after all the clocks in a grand Parisian train station.  Yet when his father leaves him a mechanical automaton, a quest to discover the secret of the device leads to a magnificent discovery.

This is a beautifully told, gently-paced fantasy, in the grand style of Charles Dickens and Frank Capra, with a cast of quality actors and keen attention to detail from the brilliant Martin Scorsese.  Here he has created a fine example of the family adventure tale, somewhat a departure for a man better known for his violent gangster movies – but nails it with the panache and expertise you would expect from one of the best in the business.  Supporting cast all add a great deal to proceedings, especially the increasingly charming Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass) and also a diverting, stand-out turn from Sasha Baron Cohen as a bumbling station guard.  A special mention must also go to Ben Kingsley, excellently conflicted as Georges Méliès, bringing real class to the whole story.  The young actor playing Hugo is good also, with his wide-eyed innocence capturing the feel of characters like Oliver Twist, which I’m guessing was the point.  It is also probably one of the best looking movies I have ever seen, with the Paris-set location and a wealth of stunning effects shots all creating a magical atmosphere.  My only real gripe is that the movie does drag its heals a bit in places, and it seems to conclude about three times – but these are very small things.

Overall though this is Scorsese breaking free of his more gritty, crime thriller routs and proving himself a master film maker, whatever the subject.  Ironic when you consider this is about the rediscovery of a master film maker.  A classic example of a director perfectly matched with material, and the kind of movie that reminds you why you love cinema.  Essential.

Verdict: 5 /5

Let Me In

Viewed – 11 November 2010  Cinema

I immediately went into this movie at a disadvantage.  You see, I am a big fan of the original Swedish version Let The Right One In, of which this is the American remake, and despite my best intentions, found myself comparing both movies scene for scene.  But I digress, as this second adaptation of the best-selling Vampire novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist stars latest hot property Chloe Moretz as Abbie, a lonely new arrival to a housing complex who befriends bullied young boy Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) when they meet at night in the local courtyard.  Yet Abbie is no ordinary girl, and is hiding a dark secret – yes you got it people, she’s a vampire!  Watched over by her father / guardian who kills local youths to obtain blood, Abbie & Owen’s friendship soon develops into a rather sweet love story, albeit unconventional and only her blood sucking urges threaten to tear them apart.

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Viewed – 31 March 2010  Cinema

To say I have been looking forward to this one would be an understatement.  Ever since hype generated from the 2009 comic-con, the teaser trailer, and quite simply, the concept alone – I have been wanting to see this for a long time.  Following the story of nerdy teenager Dave Lizewski who has always had an ambition to be a costumed superhero, one day he finally plucks up the courage to realise his dream and orders a suitably eye-catching costume over the internet.  Of course as you can imagine, the idea of a real teenager becoming a superhero, with no particular powers, just cast-iron balls and a yearning to be noticed (he’s invisible to the opposite sex, it seems) is going to be met with guffaws by anyone who comes into contact with him, as is quickly shown when he tries to take on a couple of petty muggers and comes (very much) worse off.  Yet he is not the only wannabe crime fighter at large, and after becoming an internet sensation he attracts the attention of two real costumed heroes, namely the pint-sized Hit Girl and her mentor Big Daddy, a seriously bad-ass Father and Daughter duo with a grudge against the local mob outfit. 

Matthew Vaughan’s incredibly imaginative movie seems like one of those ideas you can’t believe nobody has done before.  These heroes aren’t in an alternative world, where the villains are caricatures and every scrap ends with a comical one-liner and a cheer from the audience – this is the real world, with real dangers, and these guys are up against it with the possibility of getting themselves easily killed at any moment.  It’s refreshing, and insanely cool, helped immeasurably by a stellar cast including seasoned bad guy Mark Strong and a brilliantly complex Nicholas Cage.  But let’s be honest here, it’s the younger end of the cast that shine the most, with newcomer Aaron Johnson carrying the movie as the gutsy but naive Dave / Kick-Ass with some dead-pan narration along the way.  Also on hand is nerdy favourite Christopher Mintz-Plasse as the mob boss’s under-appreciated son.  Yet all these are completely overshadowed by the wonderful Chloe Moretz as the brilliant Hit-Girl / Mindy, a whirlwind of expletives and violence cooler than a truck load of Neo’s.  She also has a knack of delivering lines that would shock you if you wasn’t laughing so hard.

In addition to the perfect casting, a script that sparkles with brilliant dialogue and some great moments including a superb (if over the top) finally, is a soundtrack of perfectly chosen tunes that enhance every action sequence, which in themselves are choreographed expertly showing that Matthew Vaughan & Co can deliver more than just soppy fantasies (Stardust) and luke-warm mob movies (Layer Cake) to hold their heads high amongst the best of ’em.

An incredibly fun movie and an easy contender for movie of the year.

Verdict:  5 /5