"“A magical tale and one that should impress both children and adults alike…”"

I don’t think there is another director in the industry whose films are as greatly anticipated as Martin Scorsese’s. The veteran filmmaker, who can boast productions such as Taxi Driver, Goodfellas and the King of Comedy, has turned his attentions to a younger audience, and this fantasy drama may well be the best kids’ film of the year.

Hugo is based on Brian Selznick’s novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and takes place in a Parisian train station in the 1930’s. Hugo (Asa Butterfield) is an orphan who lives alone in the station walls, his job to make sure the clocks are running efficiently.

Following the untimely death of his father (Jude Law), Hugo wishes to preserve his precious memories from the time by fixing an automaton that he had worked on with his father before he passed. However, little does he know that the machine formerly belong to a certain filmmaker Georges Méliés (Sir Ben Kingsley), a forgotten treasure who works in a toy shop within the station.

However, the innocence and bravery of youth prevails, as Hugo and Georges’s goddaughter Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz) seek to fix the machine and thus reignite Méliés passion for cinema, of which he was once an enchanting luminary. These antics have to be completed against the best efforts of the lumbering, spiteful station inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen).

Despite being billed as merely a children’s adventure story, Hugo offers much more to the viewer, really coming across as Scorsese’s love letter to cinema. The film plays as a real homage to old classics, intertwining the plot with footage of some of the all-time greats, such as Méliés’ A Trip to the Moon, John Boulting’s The Magic Box, and Harold Lloyd’s classic Safety Last!

The film proves to be as much for cinema lovers as it is for children, working in a nostalgic sense as well as an educational one. Given Woody Allen’s recent production Midnight in Paris, it appears Scorsese isn’t the only filmmaker going back to his roots, seemingly insistent on emulating his very own influences.

And although carrying a degree of Hollywood sensationalism, the film feels extremely worldly, and very French. The characters, despite all being American or British and speaking with English accents, have the mannerisms and gesticulations of a true Parisian, as the film manages to truly encapsulate the characteristics and atmosphere of 1930’s Paris.

This was also helped along by the soundtrack, as a somewhat pensive accordion piece was heard throughout. Yet despite the evident French whimsicality within the feature, there are few references to its setting, as neither France nor Paris are explored in depth, which works well as it allows for the tale to seem almost unplaced.

The film manages to merge both factuality and fiction, as the narrative at times is quite sensational, yet the characters and story, at least as far as Méliés is concerned, are inspired upon real events. The film also manages to combine jest with elegance, as the French modishness is nicely counteracted with an inclination towards the younger audiences.

However, I do feel as a result, that the film lacks a more serious antagonist. You never truly believe the station inspector will get the better of Hugo and you can tell he is a compassionate man underneath his quite malevolent and fastidious demeanour. The chase scenes seem almost too slapstick and would have perhaps benefited had the inspector come across as more of a threat to Hugo’s adventure.

Scorsese has never been one to stick within the boundaries of film, always seeking new ways to improve, and impress. It therefore comes as a surprise to see he has decided to use 3D effects for Hugo, almost giving in to the archetypal Hollywood blockbuster of contemporary cinema.

And although putting 3D to better use than most, it still appears unnecessary, adding little to the feature. Especially ironic given that the film is a celebration of old, traditional and inspirational movies, where even sound and colour were frowned upon at the time, never mind 3-bloody-D.

However, it’s simply a magical tale and one that should impress both children and adults alike, in equal measure. And as Scorsese produces his first PG rated feature in 18 years, let’s just hope we don’t have to wait so long for the next one.