Two things made my spirits rise. First, my sister, an indie movie critic, loved it. She is not a huge fan of the big-budget box office blowouts, so this was huge. Roger Ebert loved it too. So yesterday, the kids and my parents went to see it.
You can't argue with the cast, with Asa Butterfield (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas) as Hugo, Chloe Moretz (Let Me In, Kick-Ass) as Isabelle, Ben Kingsley (no explanation necessary) as Georges Melies, and Sasha Baron Cohen (Borat) as the Station Inspector. Even greats like Christopher Lee and Jude Law had bit parts that supported the film. (Correct me if I am wrong, but methinks I spied Johnny Depp as a street musician. He is the producer after all.)
I won't talk too much about the plot. If you are interested, here is my review of the book. Suffice it to say that the screenplay stayed very true to the book. I didn't see a thing out of place. In fact, it was like the pictures on the page came to life, which made me extremely happy. This book does not deserve to be sliced and diced and abbreviated.
Scorcese also gifted us the sensory experience of 1930's Paris...the lights, the music, the fashion, the food. Oh, it was intoxicating! But that was just the beginning of the fun. The love of books, the love and preservation of old film, and the automaton! Ever since I first read the book, I've been obsessed with this mechanical cyborg-looking thing that mysteriously draws pictures, writes poems, and seems like it is half-human. I've watched the You Tube videos. I drug my kids willy-nilly through the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia to see the one that inspired Selznick. The automaton created here was gorgeous.
We debated whether to see the movie in 3D or not. My sister said she didn't think it was necessary. Plus, it costs about a mortgage payment to take a family to see a 3D movie these days. But in the end, we went for it. I knew that Scorcese did film this specifically for the 3D experience, not with gimmicky tricks, but for the effect of full-immersion. As a result, I wasn't just watching this film, I was IN it. I was IN the clock tower, or running through the streets of Paris dodging pedestrians, or standing outside with snow falling on me. I would highly recommend spending the extra money for the 3D experience.