Martin Scorsese's "Hugo" was unveiled at the New York Film Festival on Monday night, and the reaction to his unfinished film was so enthusiastic that it left one question lingering in the air:
Has Scorsese just saved 3D?
No doubt that's overstating the case, but viewers seemed to agree that the film makes remarkable use of the oft-derided technology as it tells the story of a young boy who lives in a 1930s Paris train station, and whose life intersects with that of the pioneering French director Georges Melies.
"Hugo" is based on Brian Selznick's book "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" – and according to viewers, it is less of a children's film than Scorsese's cinematic history lesson, and his valentine to the early days of cinema.
It is also, said Katey Rich at CinemaBlend, "probably the most gorgeous live-action 3D film ever made."
The film screened as a mystery booking at NYFF, which announced last week that it would be showing a new work-in-progress by a master director. By the weekend, all interested parties had essentially figured out that the movie would be "Hugo."
Before the screening, Scorsese told the audience that his film still needed color correction, some visual effects and additional work on music and sound.
And as soon as the film ended, viewers rushed to the web to offer instant impressions. Since it's too early to actually review an unfinished film, Twitter became the medium of choice for quick reactions:
"Charm, childhood, magic, movies, dreams, beauty: delightful." (@readgeoff)
"Scorsese uses 3D like the master he is. Definitely shows how it's done." (@BrianJSell)
"Not a kid's movie, but a movie to help kids fall in live with cinema. Spectacular 3D" (@misterpatches)
"Hugo is outstanding. 1st film where 3D is a vital organ of the overall narrative. Brilliant and at its heart, profound." (@davidc78)
"Scorsese delivers cinephile's wet dream ... Lead kid + first half are stiff, but it shifts into gear by finale." (@akstanwyck)
"Those folks who claim Scorsese doesn't do personal films anymore should prepare for their brains to melt." (@BilgeEbiri)
"Hugo is gorgeous, heartfelt, carefully constructed, totally Scorsese." (@42inchtv)
"Scorsese's Hugo is splendid in 3D and certainly a film for all ages. Movie buffs will love it. It's also the perfect companion to The Artist." (@blackfilm)
"In Hugo, Scorsese experiments w/ 3D the way Melies pioneered SFX. The simple first 1/3rd is a showcase for the power of visual storytelling." (@TheFilmStage)
And a partial naysayer: "I liked quite a bit of 'Hugo' but ultimately it never comes together in a cohesive or satisfying way." (@joblocom)