"Kids? In a Scorsese movie? What's going on?"
*** (out of four)
“Hey, kids! Wouldn’t you love to see a movie that touches on the early days of filmmaking? You might learn about how frames are spliced together to create an illusion on screen! And there’s lots of steam coming out of pipes and trains. In 3-D!”
Fine. So this dignified family adventure from Martin Scorsese—yes, that Martin Scorsese—doesn’t scream “Huge hit with short-attention-span kids,” despite the presence of, uh, some fun-looking wind-up toys. The story of Hugo (Asa Butterfield), a young orphan who lives in the walls of a 1930s Paris train station, speaks more to viewers old enough to understand loss and experience nostalgia for early discoveries.
John Logan’s script (from the award-winning “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick) sometimes creaks like the gears of the giant clocks Hugo operates. No one would accuse “Hugo” of moving too fast.
It features a winning turn from Ben Kingsley (as the godfather to Chloe Moretz, who plays Hugo’s only friend) and memorable supporting characters (Sacha Baron Cohen, Emily Mortimer, Michael Stuhlbarg) who often feel like they stepped out of a silent film. Moving pictures are a gateway to the past in “Hugo,” which recognizes the fragility of youth while affectionately saying, “Believe it or not, kids, your parents had lives before you came along. And they went to the movies too.”
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