In “Hugo,’’ an exhilarating tale of magic, machines, memories, and dreams, Martin Scorsese pulls off the neatest trick of all. He marshals the marvels of modern movie technology - up to and including the dreaded 3-D - to create a love letter to the earliest of movies and, by extension, to every movie from then to now. Yes, “Hugo’’ is a family film and, yes, your children and your inner child stand to be enraptured, but the family Scorsese really made this for is the 100-year-old tribe of watchers in the dark.
“Hugo’’ is based on Brian Selznick’s 2007 young-adult novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,’’ an extraordinary work of imagination. Half prose, half gorgeously detailed pencil drawings, it tells the tale of an orphaned boy hiding in the walls of a Paris railway station in the late 1920s, winding its many clocks, as his late father and drunken uncle have instructed him. A broken mechanical man his father rescued from a museum leads Hugo to the aged proprietor of the station’s toy stall and to secrets the old man would prefer to forget.