Scorsese delivers wildly imaginative 3-D adventure

Nov 23, 2011 at 9:48 am
click to enlarge Asa Butterfield in 'Hugo'
Asa Butterfield in 'Hugo'

Consider this review the disclaimer that should run before any and all screenings of Martin Scorsese’s Hugo. This film is, first and foremost, not for children. To be perfectly honest, Hugo probably isn’t suitable for contemporary adult audiences. With Hugo, Scorsese has completely indulged his inner child, the wildly imaginative free spirit in love with the dawn of the age of moving pictures, that initial time of wonder and magic, when children and adults found themselves ensorcelled by the spells and tricks of showmen like George Melies (Ben Kingsley) who dreamed of life under the sea and rocket ships blasting off and landing in the eye of the man on the moon.

Hugo (Asa Butterfield) is a young boy living in a Parisian train station, abandoned by his uncle (Ray Winstone), the guardian who takes him in after the death of his beloved father (Jude Law). The boy, schooled in the science of clock maintenance, has an automaton with missing parts and the belief that if he is somehow able to fix it, he will receive a message from his father.

That is the mystery driving this marvelous 3-D adventure, which feels like Scorsese has pulled off a magic trick all his own. He has shrunk us all down and placed us in a carefully designed Parisian snow globe and gently shaken it up for us. The snowflakes and the characters, from the ever-vigilant Station Inspector (Sasha Baron Cohen) eager to snatch up orphans to the waif-like flower peddler (Emily Mortimer) who has captured the Inspector’s wandering attention, and a thousand other details spring to life in ways that, unfortunately, will seem corny to this jaded digital generation. But for a precious few, Hugo will be a secret treasure, a message from the past able to set their hearts free. Grade: A

Opens Nov. 23. Check out theaters and show times, see the trailer and get theater details here.