‘Hugo’ – What Did You Think?

If I had to imagine the results of a quick exit poll, I really don’t know how I’d expect responses to Martin Scorsese‘s latest movie, Hugo, to fall. The director’s first ‘family’ film is an adaptation of Brian Selznick’s book The Invention of Hugo Cabret and, on the surface at least, tells the story of a young boy’s attempt to live in the roof of a train station in ’30s Paris. The boy, Hugo (Asa Butterfield) is trying to repair a curious automaton that is the last relic of his father, and in so doing discovers tales of the earliest days of cinema.

Hugo has a very impressive use of 3D that makes perhaps the best argument yet for the format, and expresses such a love for early cinema that some scenes within may be the most irresistible stuff to parade in front of the eyes of film nerds this season. But it isn’t uniformly as magnificent as some of the best scenes, and it isn’t the sort of family film that audiences are expecting to see. So let us know: what did you think about Hugo?

There is amazing, wonderful stuff in the film, primarily an adroit and restrained use of 3D that avoids almost all the obvious tricks in favor of adding depth rather than flash, and the sections devoted to the early days of cinema, some of which apply 3D to those early days in a manner that could be called revelatory.

At the same time, the acting isn’t uniformly good (I think this is Chloe Moretz‘s first bad performance) and I can see the argument that the film needs a good twenty-minute trim spread across all three acts. A more conservative running time would certainly make Hugo more palatable to a bigger audience, I think.

I liked the film quite a lot, and though I have some reservations with it, my appreciation for the things it does well was enough to overwhelm my complaints. But I do wonder how the film will play a second time, especially if seen without the benefit of 3D. So, despite it being late in the weekend (Thanksgiving got in the way) let’s talk about Hugo. Spoilers fully allowed in the comments below.

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