The best film Scorsese has made in 21 years and thus far his sole masterpiece in this century. Some films may come along in the future (perhaps Godard's Goodbye To Language) who's utilisation of 3D is superior, but I doubt any will use in a way more thematically suited as Scorsese embraces the legacy of Melies and brings this small world to life with this new tool. An ode to the past and a voyage to an unknown future
It's great that Scorsese made a mainstream film that celebrated (and pulls me further on into investigating) the films of Georges Méliès and early cinema, bringing film preservation to young audiences as well. I just wish Scorsese made a film that was actually good, rather than a mediocre family film, whose segments about classic cinema seemed as obtuse as when stereotypical 'fanboys' talk about movies.
Its seems more than appropriate that a homage this grand and inmediatly humble to the pioneers of cinema comes from none other than Scorsese himself, using 3D amazingly well for a first time and given the circumstances elevating the new medium to symbolic heights as well.
I may have echoed some of the disdained comments below had I not stayed with the film long enough to become entirely captivated by the wonderful scenes colorfully illustrating the tragic history of Georges Méliès and his movies. "Hugo" begins to feel like its not going anywhere until this transformation takes place and a new vision of film history appears before our eyes, truly almost lost, but re-inspired here.
Scorsese is a wizard behind the camera. He has successfully made one of the greatest cinematic achievements of the new decade, and possibly of his career next to his beloved mobster films. Is this better than "Casino" or "Goodfellas?" Hell no. But this proves that Scorsese can do anything and everything. This is his amazing ode to cinema, and he recites it extremely well.
Far from a masterpiece, but overall a well-made and involving nostalgia trip that should have been better. The script is uneven, the characters underdeveloped and the visuals often outdo the action taking place.
Unfortunately, all the magic belongs to Melies. 3D effects are awkward, overstuffed vehicles for telegraphed w-h-i-m-s-y. Nevertheless, they're not particularly ill-used or annoying. Doesn't get interesting till the film nerd historian shows up and by then it's all a little ho-hum anyway. Kid actors were particularly bad.