Hey, it’s Martin Scorsese in the director’s chair. Is he capable of making a bad movie? Of course not! “Hugo” is good, but that judgment comes with a few caveats.
First the good news: “Hugo” is set inside an amazing Paris train station several years after World War I. The public spaces of the station and the “backstage” area where Hugo hangs out are fascinating places that have a great look on screen.
The effects in the movie are fun and entertaining, from the subjective camera shot that flies into the station at the film’s opening to the runaway train sequence. If you like 3-D, you’ll enjoy “Hugo’s” 3-D—effective, not gimmicky.
The kid actors are strong. Asa Butterfield, in the title role, resembles a baby James McAvoy with his blue eyes. Chloe Grace Moretz, who impressed in a “30 Rock” episode this year and in “Kick Ass” last year, is his friend Isabelle.
Ben Kingley’s character has a cool flashback to the early days of filmmaking, which caused me to flash back to Mr. Hartsook’s History of Cinema class at Alabama.
Now the bad news: “Hugo” has pacing issues. It starts with good energy, bogs down for a long while and then picks up steam (literally, in scenes with trains) in the last act.
“Hugo” may not be the movie you think it is if you have seen the preview trailer. The movie is not so kinetic as you might have expected and it brings in a major storyline that is barely referenced in the trailer. Jude Law’s screen time in the movie is not much more than in the preview.
Preteens and teens will, I think, like it. Grades from grownups may be mixed. Small children could get restless during segments of the movie, so leave your 5-year-old squirmer with the sitter.
“Hugo” is good. I had hoped it would be better.