And before you ask, no I have not read the book. So no, I am not grading it because "the book was better."
Now, before you go ahead and give me a thumbs down simply for the fact that I called the film overrated and didn't give it 100% automatically, I suggest you actually read the review. The point of a thumbs down is to bring down dumb reviews. If you think this is, then by all means give it a thumbs down, but I believe I have a point here.
Hugo. That is the name of the film. It's also the name of the main character. Is not, however, the name of a character I give any care for. More on this in a bit.
Let's start with the visuals. Ahhh, the wonderful visuals, or, shall I say, the distracting visuals. A children's film Scorsese? The only thing that will interest children are the visuals and flying 3-D: ask my two younger cousins and my younger sister who I saw this with. They cared nothing for the film at all, only for what the film looked like. Hugo distracts with multiple 3-D shots through gears and people that are highly unnecessary. Why is it for many films, shots like these are panned by critics, but when put in the hands of an accomplished director, it is praised? The 3-D itself is fine, and I the only thing I like about it is the tie to the train. The first film ever, in which a train goes towards an unsuspecting audience as they cower in fear. The same deal here, only in actual 3-D. How times have changed...
Now, let's get into the secondary characters: the flower girl, the inspector, the cafe owner, the newspaper man, etc etc.
I UNDERSTAND their purpose. Scorsese makes them, like many other parts of the film, a part of a working machine. Some, like the Inspector, are broken and need fixing. Together, the normal people, run and operate everyday life like a machine.
Now, that's simply wonderful and all, but why is it necessary? I feel no connection whatsoever to these characters and all they do is take away from Hugo. Yes, the titular character, Hugo.
What's the first scene we see of Hugo? Him and his father? No. Him and his awful life with his uncle? No. Him perhaps stuck in the clocks while watching other people live happily? No. It's him stealing. A hard way to make us care for him early on. How about is annoying attitude: "I need it. I just need it. Give it back." I heard that one too many times.
Now, why is that a problem? He grew up with no mother and only slightly with his father, then had a drunken uncle.
Ohhhhhhhh, right. We saw little to nothing of that.
Why show characters we don't care about or chase scenes that have no imagination to them when you could EXPAND the relationship with Hugo and his father. How about instead of TELLING us about Hugo and his father and the time they spent watching films, you start SHOWING US them at the cinema. Why not a look of wonder in Hugo's eyes with his father looking at him. Why not a scene with his father with very similar looks to Hugo that has the same expression when watching the movie with the Moon hit in the eye. Show, don't tell. One of the most important rules of film making I didn't see used to its advantage. Why not show Hugo's horrid life with his uncle? Why not show dirt and grime on his face? Why not show him miserably look at kids running freely with a mother and father? Why did you not make me care for this character AT ALL?!
And again, I don't see the grand adventure. Where's that great climax? Where's the mystery? Your climax is a chase on same stairs with some cringe-worthy comedy. The mystery? The mystery dies quick into the film.
I think the most troublesome of it all is that everything comes together by accident. Sheer accident. Not to mention useless scenes?
What was the point of the Inspector taking him up at the end, chasing him down, and then giving him back? Why didn't Hugo just cry the first the time, have the Inspector look into the eyes of the flower girl, and let him go? Why was that extra minute or two needed? There are moments like this littered throughout the film.
What's good? The score and the visuals. The visuals annoy me a bit here and there, but they're good.
What's bad? The characters that I don't care about. How about springing up a little romance between the two leads instead of leaving them as JUST friends. With an extra 5-10 minutes of needed scenes replacing 5 minutes of unnecessary scenes, my view of Hugo would increase a bit. It's unfortunate that was not meant to be.
Now, I would love some REAL debating and not just random "this has a 96% so you are wrong" sort of thing. If I get stuff like that, I know you have no real arguments back, so please, leave a comment on why you disagree or possibly agree.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, directed by Rob Marshall, follows Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) as he searches for the Fountain of Youth, accompanied by the love interest, Angelica (Penelope Cruz), her father and antagonist, Blackbeard (Ian McShane), and Barbossa (Geoffery Rush). This movie becomes exactly what you expect from a Pirates film: a simple plot taken and distorted as much as damn possible to make 'more interesting.'
The plot, or what should have been the plot, is that there is a race to the fountain of youth. The Royal Navy wants it, Blackbeard wants it, the Spanish want to destroy it, and Sparrow finds himself entangled with all 3 (not as much with the Spaniards though). Unfortunately, the film finds its way to lose itself even with the shorter 2 hours and 17 minutes runtime.
The entire story with the missionary and the mermaid is where I began lost with the movie. No, it was not confusing, but it took away from the main plot of the film. The entire addition of the Spanish was also a waste of time and plot.
Next, we have Jack. I always thought Jack is better not being the lead, and my point was proven. He serves the film better by being a drunken, mysterious damsel in distress. Except, you know, not a young woman.
Despite my complaints, the film was very enjoyable. The VFX were top notch, the soundtrack was astounding, and every technical aspect of the film was as good as can be. The story, with its flaws I mentioned, was still fine. The entire swashbuckling adventure is still there, and that's what I went to the theater to see. Perhaps in Pirates 5, we can get more of that and less side plots.
Final Consensus: Despite the shortened running time, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides fails, while entertaining and fun, fails to keep to the swashbuckling adventurous plot I had hoped to see - 4.3/10
X-Men first class, directed by Matthew Vaugn, follows the story of Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) in the creating of the mutant alliance called X-Men. We see their original relationship as friends and their turn to become enemies.
The strength of the film lies in the leads and the connections to the Cold War. McAvoy and Frassbender play their roles very convincingly and strong chemistry. Any time either of them are on the screen, they own it. Taking place during the Cold War, specifically the Cuban Missile Crisis, makes the movie feel real. The absurdities of mutants and their powers are masked out by the relationships of the characters.
A lot happens in the movie in an awfully short time, yet it all works thanks to some very good editing. We first learn the origins of all the characters, bring a team together, train them, and take them into combat. There was a lot introduced, someone origin stories tend to do, but it was done in good health.
The main problem I had were the enemies: Sebastian Shaw and Emma Frost. They never felt like real threats throughout the entire film. Bacon seemed smug, so to speak, and his place as a villain wasn't very convincing. Jones as Frost was emotionless. She had the faces and reactions of Bella Swan, which is to say, no faces or reactions. Perhaps it was in character, perhaps not, but it didn't work for me.
Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence, who is set to play Katniss in 'The Hunger Games') is an intriguing character through the film, who has an interesting love triangle so to speak. It's not exactly love, but an idea, as in who's ideology is the one she will follow. There is Charles who has provided for her and treated as a sister, and Erik, who tells her to accept who she truly is. Her emotions were very realistic and it was an interesting side plot.
Another problem for the film were the effects. Anything involving Magneto I though worked very well, but moments such as Mystique's transformation, Beast's looks, etc did not look very good. It's not very distracting, but it's noticeable.
Final Consensus: X-Men: First Class improves upon all the other X-Men with interesting leads and a plot worthy of the characters - 8.8/10