Now this is exactly why I decided to watch the IMDB Top 250. Old, safe me would have seen the trailers, noted the U certificate, and cursed the idea of 3D to hell and shunned this film completely. I may well even have had arguments with fans of the film telling them they were wrong and that Scorsese had lost it – despite never watching a single frame of the film beyond the press clips.
Old, safe me is a dickhead.
I am still not sold on the future of 3D cinema, by any stretch of the imagination. Mark Kermode gives a far better argument as to why 3D ruins films and is basically just an anti-piracy measure that adds nothing to a film in his brilliant ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Mulitplex’ – but my own personal experience is that 3D gives me a headache, darkens the screen by at least 50%, and is pointless in scenes where not much is happening.
Still, at least the lovely Phoenix Square cinema doesn’t charge extra for 3D films, and you get to borrow glasses for free as well. And you get to take a beer in with you, if you so desire.
Anyway, the film. I couldn’t help feeling that the gods of cinema were talking directly to me at times. Like Kingsley’s excellent Méliès, I too have fallen out of love with the movies in recent times, and tried to forget about my youth when I lived and breathed cinema. Whereas I had an oncoming midlife crisis and Mark Kermode to ‘fix’ me, Méliès has Hugo (an orphan played by Asa Butterfield who beautifully captures the fragility and street-toughness essential to the believability of the character) and his god-daughter Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz who manages to be precocious and almost pretentious, without being obnoxious). Both child actors more than hold their own amongst heavyweights like Kingsley, Ray Winstone (in a mercifully brief role), Jude Law (playing genuinely likeable once more – he should try it more often), and Emily Mortimer. They have a decent pedigree, so it shouldn’t be that surprising that they can act – but their performances have made me want to see The Boy In the Striped Pyjamas and Kick Ass as a matter of urgency.
The film itself looks amazing. I haven’t been as blown away by a film visually since Amélie, and to a lesser extent, 300. The opening 10 minutes actually make the pain of wearing 3D glasses worth it, and the recreations and reimaginations of Méliès films are the sign of a director absolutely loving his work. The story brought a tear to my eye on more than one occasion, and there is very little to fault anywhere in this film. I even enjoyed Sacha Baron Cohen channelling ‘Allo ‘Allo in his role as the Station Inspector. His scenes were handled with enough of a straight face, and with subtlety from both actor and director so as not to become annoying.
One more thing though. Dear Mr Scorsese, please don’t hang out with James Cameron anymore. I’m worried you might be thinking of re-releasing Goodfellas in 3D…