An orphan boy, who lives in the walls of a Paris train station, tries to unravel the mystery of his father's death. The only possession he has is a broken automaton - a robot with the ability to write - which he tries to restore in the hope that his late father has left him a message inside.
In his quest to rebuild his robot, he must dodge the child-catching station inspector and outsmart a toy stand owner, who has grown sullen and irritable following the Great War.
It's rare you find a leading pair, more importantly two teenagers, who evoke such emotion and chemistry to drive a film. Moretz plays Isabelle, the toy stand owner's niece and Hugo's (Butterfield) unlikely accomplice.
As a stickler for tradition, the 3D wave has never really swept over me. I find it's often uncomfortable and unnecessary, but Hugo is the exception and possibly the future. Not only is the Parisian setting perfect with its rich architecture, but Hugo's life is surrounded by clocks and steam trains, the detail and impact of which would have been lost in 2D.
Children will revel in the chases and rich imagery, while adults will engage with the emotion and performances. The costumes are perfectly realised, sticking to the 1930s storyline while still being bold and updated. Baron Cohen provides the laughs as the film's villain. The comedy is sparse but necessary to break up the emotion of the story.
Overall, Scorsese has truly outdone himself.
The film is based on Brian Selznick's bestseller The Invention of Hugo Cabret. With a compelling cast, an interesting, unique storyline and breathtaking visuals, this is one of the most Oscar-worthy pictures of 2011.
Hugo is a family film, and while it is quite long and demands concentration, the reward is spectacular.