hugo is a film based on the 2007 children's book, the invention of hugo cabret, by brian selznick. it was shot in 3-d, set in 1930's paris and features a very funny performance by sasha baron cohen (borat) - precisely what you would expect out of the latest film by martin scorsese, the man who brought us mean streets, taxi driver, raging bull, the last temptation of christ, goodfellas, cape fear, aviator, gangs of new york, the departed and shutter island. however, this just might be the movie scorsese was born to make, if not for the style then for the substance of it.
the main storyline involves an 11-year old child, hugo, who lives in a train station, setting all the station's clocks, after his father dies in an accident. he is on a journey to finish a project that will hopefully provide a message from his dead father and along the way, it just might have a greater impact on those around him (who knows... it is a movie after all). it is not, however, the main storyline that makes you think of scorsese, but rather the underlying, historical backdrop of film.
if you aren't familiar with his story by now, scorsese grew up an asthmatic child in new york, found solace at the movies, trained to be a priest, but instead became the greatest living director and advocate for film preservation and history. actors say that working with him is like going to film school and if you've ever heard him comment on movies, he seemingly has an encyclopedic knowledge of every film ever made.
it is in this vain that this film is maybe as close to scorsese's heart as any of his other films. i am not going to ruin the plot developments involving one of the pioneers of early cinema, as many other reviews have done. if any of you are serious fans of movies, not just as entertainment or art, but as history, then this will surely be a rewarding experience for you.
all i can say is that this film is not really a film for children, but a film for film-lovers. the pace can be slow and clumsy at times, but scorsese more than makes up for it by transporting you into the magical and transformational world of movies in a way only a movie can.
no hyperbole allowed: b+
rotten tomatoes: 93%