4-star reviews from The New Yorker, Variety, Box Office Magazine, The Hollywood Reporter. 4 stars from Roger Ebert. No fan of 3-D, Ebert says, “Scorsese uses 3-D here as it should be used, not as a gimmick but as an enhancement of the total effect.”
David Denby at The New Yorker says, “Reality, filmed illusion, and dreams are so intertwined that only an artist, playing merrily with echoes, can sort them into a scheme of delight.”
At the moment of greatest rapture in Martin Scorsese’s 3-D “Hugo”—a film with many moments of happiness—a twelve-year-old Parisian boy, Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield), and his pal Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz) are leafing through a book of film history, when images from the pages start to move and then spring to full motion-picture life. The time is the nineteen-thirties, and Scorsese and his technicians are looking back to the pioneers, jumping through restored versions of films by the Lumière brothers, Edwin S. Porter, D. W. Griffith, and, most centrally, Georges Méliès, the inventor of fantasy and science fiction in the cinema. For Scorsese, the early movies are a procession of miracles: the directors realized that sixteen frames passing through a camera every second could yield illusions, disappearances, transformations, magic. In recent years, while making his own movies, Scorsese has dedicated himself to film history and preservation. He has put this ardent attention at the center of a beautifully told and emotionally satisfying story for children and their movie-loving parents. “Hugo” is both a summing up of the cinematic past and a push forward into new 3-D technologies.