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'Hugo' 3D wins, in my house

While denied the best picture/director Oscars, I'd argue that "Hugo" will be the 2011 picture that time remembers best - as an homage to cinema magic old and new.

While denied the best picture/director Oscars, I'd argue that "Hugo" will be the 2011 motion picture that time and film historians remember best - as an homage to cinema magic old and new.

"Hugo" did wipe the plate clean at the Academy Awards with technical achievement honors - for cinematography, best visual effects,  art direction, best sound editing and sound mixing. And  when this ripe-for-all-ages film goes on sale tomorrow i(Tuesday) in home video versions (good timing, Paramount) I urge that you splurge for the "Limited Edition" 3D package, which also holds old-school 2D Blu-Ray, DVD and digital copy versions.

Even if you don't own a 3D TV, disc player and glasses now, someday  you will. And  it's in the creative use of that  extra depth dimension  - pulling you down chutes, soaring over Paris, poking you in the eye with massive  clock tower tech (very steampunk) - that half the magic  of this film resides.

While first timers at 3D, cinematographer Bob Richardson and director Martin Scorsese amaze  with the same level of intensity that early French film magician George Melies - a subject of the film -  did for his silent movie gawkers. (And how ironic that a  dialogue-free French film about an American silent film star - "The Artist"  - beat "Hugo" for best picture.)

The 3D Blu-Ray release of "Hugo" looks (and sounds) even better on my home theater setup ( 55-inch Panasonic display /Onkyo receiver/Bose 5.1 speakers)   than it did at the cineplex. The 2D Blu-ray  disc in the bundle also holds some terrific extras, including a  fascinating history of the automaton (early clockwork-driven mechanical men and creatures) that likewise plays a role in the film. The documentary  cites a rare example of a drawing/writing mecho-man now in residence at the Franklin Institute as the role model for the film "character" !

If you already own  a "3D-ready" TV and Blu-Ray player  but haven't invested in glasses, you're in good company. Cost, comfort  and incompatibility issues have kept many from splurging  on the necessary glasses. But there's good news on this front from XPAND - a major world player in shutter glasses technology.  XPAND's  Youniversal  electronic  3D eyewear, just out, is  compatible  with any brand of 3D TV or projector that works with shutter glasses - both infrared  and (with a plug-in dongle) Bluetooth signal-driven. So when you take yours over to a friends' house to watch a movie or play a 3D video game, you're covered.

The other thing that's really great about the Youniversals is that the LCD lenses are big - especially in the large (still lightweight) size  made to be worn in front of prescription glasses. So the XPANDS' virtually disappear from your field of view. All you see is the screen. By contrast, the Armani-style wrap-around 3D specs that came with my Panasonic plasma  do look "cooler"  but I often see their narrow frame, interfering with the movie magic.