Seeing the trailers for Martin Scorsese’s Hugo used to give me conflicting emotions. Part of me knew I should get excited because of Scorsese alone, but the actual trailers and TV spots themselves all looked like a strange, unappealing hybrid of The Polar Express and Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium– it was all shaping up to be the kind of movie that I knew I would be hesitant buying a ticket to no matter how good the reviews were.
Now that I’ve seen the movie, I see the trailers entirely differently. Instead of TV spots that make me want to change the channel, I am hit with the sad realization that the trailers in no way capture the wonderment that I experienced earlier this week seeing it on the big screen. Yes, I realize that the standard line these days used by every new 3D movie is, “Oh, our 3D isn’t like those other 3D movies– ours is for depth and nuance,” but until Hugo, I thought that was just a bogus selling point, but I’ve now finally seen a 3D movie that blew me away because of the 3D. I loved it so much that it’s gotten to the point where I feel compelled to tell everyone I know that this is a movie that needs to be seen as it was meant to be seen: On the big screen and in 3D.
Yes, the rest of the movie is fantastic and as funny as it is magical. Yes, the story, which I won’t spoil here, and the performances (particularly Asa Butterfield) will be as heartwarming in two dimensions as they are in three, but the whole point of Hugo is that Scorsese wants to remind audiences of a time when going to the cinema offered you an unrivaled viewing experience. The entire film is a loving and beautifully crafted tip of Scorsese’s masterfully tailored hat to the history of cinema, of special effects, of movie magic and his cinematic forefathers who dared dream with their eyes open. And you’ll still understand that message if you hold out and wait to catch this in 2D in your living room, but you will sadly not be “getting” it, not really. Two dimensions is just not experiencing the entirety of the magic act that Scorsese and his team of cinematic wizards put on for you.
And please believe me when I sincerely say that seeing this in 2D at home will be your loss. I understand if you’re burnt out on 3D, if you think it’s a trendy gimmick. I’ve been right there with you. But there are artists who use it as a tool to advance their craft and not just squeeze out a few more bucks at the box office, and Martin Scorsese is indeed one of those artists.