* * * (Joyce)
"Hugo" is certainly not your usual boy's adventure story, although it is about the adventures of young Hugo, a scruffy lad who lives among the clock towers of an old Paris railroad station.
Hugo's father has died and his drunkard uncle has left him to tend to the clocks, a job that he does faithfully, avoiding being seen by the nasty station guard (Sacha Baron Cohen). Hugo's father has entrusted him with an automaton (a robot) that still needs parts, plus a heart-shaped key, to be complete.
While the movie moves slowly (too slowly for Joyce) and the heart of the story doesn't reveal itself for quite some time, I found that director Martin Scorcese has magically swept us into a grand revelation about the early years of filmmaking.
Ben Kingsley plays Georges Melies, the proprietor of a toyshop within the train station who has hidden his true identity. Melies, as we discover late in the film, made over 500 films in the 1800s, most of which were destroyed.
The movie shifts gears (literally) as Hugo, with the help of the toyshop keeper's granddaughter, discovers his identity, recovers the classic "A Trip to the Moon" and sets up a lovely ending.
Asa Butterfield is wonderful as the title character. His scenes with Kingsley are classic, as the old man scorns and berates him and finally comes around. Listen to the beautiful background music and enjoy the wonderful cinematography.
Rated PG, but much too slow for children (and some adults), although there are a few chase scenes and a nightmare of a train crash.