Tag Archives: Chloë Moretz

Hugo (2011)

Set in 1930s Paris, Hugo centers on its title character, a clockmaker’s son who lives within the walls of a railway station. Orphaned and abandoned, Hugo (Asa Butterfield) steals food to survive and filches mechanical parts to complete his father’s project, the restoration of a broken automaton. When toy merchant Georges Méliès (Ben Kingsley) catches him red-handed and takes a valuable notebook from him, a desperate Hugo turns to the man’s goddaughter, Isabelle (Chloë Moretz), for help. Together, they repair the automaton and discover its link to Georges’ secret past, opening up an adventure much bigger than the one they first imagined.

While Hugo generally sustains its fantastic veneer, ill-considered sequences at times break the illusion—the most jarring being a painfully blatant statement of theme. But despite such identifiable blunders, the movie leads you inside worlds far from familiar: gigantic clocks forming intricate mechanical lacework, books spiraling toward the ceiling, tiny toys lining a shop from end to end. In Hugo, your world is scaled down to one city, one train station—where your biggest enemy is the inspector, and the orphanage your worst nightmare. Visually, all this is rendered in spectacular 3D. The opening scenes take your breath away: the onrush of steam in your face, the crowd parting to let you pass—almost, almost like you’re really there. In a word: captivating.

Magnified to gorgeous proportions, Georges’ masterpieces compel the viewer to consider and appreciate the many layers at work in Scorsese’s fim. Although marketed as a heartwarming family drama, the movie’s principal accomplishments lie elsewhere. As a children’s movie, Hugo may fail to mesmerize very young audiences, but does wonders in capturing the hearts and minds of more mature viewers. Whatever the dissenting few may say, I consider this film a success in the seamless unification of its elements: an orphan searching for his father’s presence, an artist struggling to reconcile with a bitter past, and—between them—a mysterious, broken automaton carrying a crucial message. Apart from Butterfield’s inconsistent performance and some awkward exchanges between the two children, I have no real complaints. My eyes blurred over several times while watching this film—at times out of sadness, more often out of sheer awe. I am grateful to Maki for dragging me to its last screening in Metro Manila. Hugo in 3D is definitely something I would not have wanted to miss.

‘We could get into trouble.’ ‘That’s how you know it’s an adventure.’

‘Why should I believe you?’ ‘Because…because it’s true!’

‘If you’ve ever wondered where your dreams come from, look around. This is where they’re made.’

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2010)

It’s one of those rare occasions when I let myself choose the movie adaptation over the book. I’ve seen the hardcovers often enough in bookshops, and my younger sister collects the series, but I’ve never felt the urge to peruse them. I wouldn’t even have downloaded the movie had Sean and Kevin not asked for it. Like in Jeff Kinney’s novel, Diary of a Wimpy Kid chronicles the adventures of sixth grader Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon). Together with his best friend Rowley (Robert Capron), he combats such daily antagonists as his terrorizing brother Rodrick, resident overachiever-slash-bully Patty, and Fregley—the school hygiene hazard with the “secret mole.” Despite contrary advice from seventh grader Angie (Chloë Moretz), Greg nurtures aspirations of landing as a class favorite in the yearbook; but his attempts at popularity end in disasters that test not only his friendships but also his understanding of himself.

Just as it promises, this movie takes us inside its protagonist’s private universe—a world governed by a volatile set of social norms, where the tiniest misunderstandings cause apocalyptic occurrences, and where mundane things like moldy cheese on cement is enough to fascinate an entire middle school population, sparking crazy “cheese touch” legends that make leprosy seem like a common allergy. Funny, entertaining, even occasionally insightful, Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a good watch for kids and adults alike.

As far as children’s movies go, I obviously like this much more than The Lightning Thief, so other reviews surprised me. I don’t remember most of the complaints, except for one fault they cited: Greg Heffley’s lack of likeability. I do agree with this (the first half of the movie made me irritated with Rowley, while the second part directed my annoyance at the protagonist), but I do not understand why it should detract from my experience of the movie. True, I did not expect to hate the main character, but I think this fact allowed him a more successful redemption at the end. Flawed characters always get the viewer’s sympathy anyway, provided they don’t cross certain boundaries. (Of course, all this is rendered moot if the criticism draws from a comparison with the Greg Heffley of the book, which I haven’t read.) Regardless, from what I know of the movie, it’s enough to make me happy, and from what I know my siblings as well. Sean’s verdict: “Ahh, good film.”

‘…it’s our choices that make us who we are.’

‘…sometimes, when somebody’s worth it, you just have to put yourself out there.’