I’ll start by telling you my problems with Hugo, before heaping all the praise on this whimsically wonderful film.

They took a kids book (The Invention of Hugo Cabret) by La Jolla resident Brian Selznick (relative of film legend David O. Selznick, of the classics Gone With the Wind and Rebecca), and they made a film for adults. That’s fine, just don’t bill it as a kids movie. They’ll be a bit bored at times.

I think it was a little long, and the script should’ve been tighter. And, just as I knocked Quentin Tarantino for doing a scene in Inglorious that has characters talking about Italian directors from the ‘20s (something he cares about, but nobody else does); Martin Scorsese has lines in this about film preservation.

I realize he’s raised money and awareness for that with his Film Foundation, but come on. I thought the movie was going to end with a website that would show us where to go to donate money.

I can’t compare this movie to the book, but I think it’s safe to say the movie is better. It’s got amazing 3-D cinematography. It’s the only movie I’ve seen since Avatar, where the 3-D adds to the magic on the screen.

The story is about an orphan boy that lives in a train station and runs the clocks (his drunk uncle hasn’t returned to do the job). He sometimes steals from a Papa Georges, a toy shop owner in the station. It’s not that he’s a bad kid, he just needs little mechanical devices to complete an automaton his dad was working on). What we find out is that the shop owner is film legend Georges Melies.

Now, the only thing I knew about him was that he did some of the first movies, including A Trip to the Moon.

As I watched his life story unfold in the second part of the picture, I had tears of joy streaming down my face.

Melies started out as a magician, and was using film as a way to incorporate illusions into his act.

And magic this film was.

I enjoyed the cast tremendously. Sacha Baron Cohen -- who is more well-known to American audiences as the annoying French race car driver in Talladega Nights, or the annoying Bruno and Borat characters – is great as the evil train station inspector. He has a vicious Doberman and evil mustache. It must’ve taken great restraint for Scorsese to not have him end up sleeping with the fishes, or waking up with a Doberman head in his bed. 

The children do a fine job and have nice chemistry together (Chloe Moretz has a big career ahead of her).

Emily Mortimer, Jude Law, Christopher Lee, and Ray Winstone are all great talents, with rather small parts in this. And Ben Kingsley will get an Oscar nomination (although I’m not sure if it’s deserved) for playing Melies.

It’s amazing that at 70-years-old, Scorsese gave us his most heartfelt movie…a loving tribute to the birth of cinema. If anybody has relatives in town for the holidays that claim they are movie buffs or film lovers, take them to see this.

It may not be for kids under 12, but so what. Bring them. They’ll be dazzled by the visuals on the screen and if they get bored at times, so what. We’re forced to sit through their junk when we take them to kids movies.

This gets 4 out of 5 stars.