“A 3D family adventure from legendary Director Martin Scorsese doesn’t sound quite right, does it? Anyway, he’s had a crack at it, but I kind of wish he hadn’t. The story revolves around a boy called (you’ve guessed it) Hugo (Asa Butterfield) - an orphan, clock keeper and thief, he lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on anonymity. So far so good.
But his secret life is put into jeopardy when he befriends a girl, Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), and discovers that the key around her neck can unravel the mysteries plaguing his existence. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a mechanical man and a hidden message from Hugo's dead father (Jude Law) form the backbone of this intriguing mystery that sounds better on paper. With a cast also featuring Christopher Lee, Ray Winstone and Emily Mortimer, you can’t help but wonder where it all went wrong.
Well, the film is far too long for starters. The opening gambit – exploring Hugo’s world - captivates, even if Sacha Baron Cohen’s pernickety station-master grates, but there’s something very magical about the whole shebang (and it looks stunning). The trouble is, the clocks soon stop ticking, and plot-wise, everything hinted at never clicks in to place; instead we are treated to more than an hour of Scorsese obsessing over his favourite bygone era. Hugo is a passenger, not the star, there’s little conflict, and the adventure runs out of steam very quickly, preferring to take us on a history lesson with flashy dream sequences instead. Next time I’ll walk.” DW