2011 / Martin Scorsese > As both an elegy and a celebration of cinema, Hugo is wonderful. But as a composition, the film meanders into side stories of no real consequence without ever fully realizing its promise to the audience: The adventure simply does not satisfy. Once again, Scorsese’s biggest weakness remains glaring: The man’s oeuvre is filled with by-the-numbers storytelling (often with stunning—and dependent—set pieces) that work because the stories themselves are very tightly constructed to begin with. This one isn’t. While the heart is warmed in the manner a family film ought to, the editing lacks a certain tightness to genuinely enthrall us all the way through.
Then there’s the 3D: Many have suggested Scorsese’s utilization of the technology is the best to date, including James Cameron himself. But aside from some of the glowing 1920s Parisian scenery and the gleeful finale that only the most hardcore of film enthusiasts will really appreciate, the additional dimension adds little to the experience. It is a technology that has once again failed to justify both its box office premium as well as the bulky, uncomfortable accessory it depends on.