Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on February 2012
Martin Scorsese tries on something entirely new with this dazzling Dickensian homage to filmdom’s early innovators and inventers, based on Brian Selznick’s illustrated book The Invention of Hugo Cabret. (Though an animation, this is not really for kids. Its deliberate pace may test tots’ attention spans, and its message about the importance of preserving old movies will likely be lost on the youngsters.) Hugo (Asa Butterfield) is a boy who lives alone between the walls of a Paris railroad station in the early 1930s, using skills he learned from his late father (Jude Law) to keep the clocks repaired and wound. Any stoppages would result in an investigation of his secret existence. He spends the rest of his time going to movies and trying to repair an automaton his dad had been working on. He is eventually caught stealing gears by a shopkeeper (Ben Kingsley), who turns out to be Georges Melies, a legendary filmmaker now beaten and bitter. But he finds a friend in Melies’s daughter (Chloe Moretz). Smart, enchanting, intelligent, full of heart and a reminder of why we go to the movies. Shot in digital 3D. Ironic, no? Just go with it.