Last weekend I saw Martin Scorsese's new movie, HUGO, with Jack Skillingstead and Ted and Christine Kosmatka. Seldom have I been with such deeply divided movie goers.
HUGO flirts with science fiction but never truly gets in bed with it. There is an automaton, suggestions that the entire world functions as a giant clock-work mechanism, a few quasi-magical moments in which objects (such as drawings released from a box) do not behave as objects actually do. But for the most part, the movie sticks to a sort of heightened, highly-colored reality, which is appropriate because it is the world as seen through the eyes of a child. It's also, and primarily, a movie about making movies, specifically the early fantasy silents of Georges Melies, an actual person but now largely forgotten. Scorsese is fascinated by those early movies, and whether or not you like HUGO depends in part on whether you share that fascination.
Jack loved the movie; Ted and Christine hated it (see his blog for just why); I thought it has a certain pallid charm but is too long and self-conscious. Also, since I'm not interested in early silent movies, I was slightly bored. HUGO is visually arresting, something to which I'm only intermittently sensitive, but there is not much story. What there is, occasionally feels strained. Melies, for instance, does not maintain enough of a consistent character for me to believe in this version of him.
I prefer Scorsese's less sentimental movies: THE DEPARTED, TAXI DRIVER, GOODFELLAS. But you may disagree.