The quasi-villain, Gustav, is played by Sasha Baron Cohen for both laughs and terror, neither of which seems to come off well. He is initially seen chasing Hugo, which we gather is rather like chasing the white whale for him; like Javert, he is obsessed with catching the young boy who lives above the train station in the clockworks. We see that he has a knee that is assisted by a metal hinged frame, making him somewhat of a clockwork man himself. In the first chase through the train station he thrusts aside the waiting passengers and luggage-handlers, the street musicians and cafe-denizens. It's an ugly scene that isn't funny in the least, and cannot be taken seriously.
I am not the only one who thinks so.)
And while I love Georges Méliès, somehow I feel that the veneration the film shows him is a one-trick pony. We keep coming back to the Man in the Moon shot from his Voyage dans la Lune, which I've always found disturbing by any account; yet to see it over and over says to me that Mr. Scorcese doesn't know as much as he thinks he does about it. (Maybe he does, but thinks that the audience can't take much more than this tiny slice of Méliès's output.) I did love enormously the flashback sequence that Méliès narrates, about his career, much of which is perfectly true and was heartstoppingly wonderful to see re-enacted--and the perfectly matted-in shot of Mme. Méliès in the final shot.
But doing research at the "Film Library" in Paris ? Had M. Langlois knew of this, I am sure it would have warmed his heart. This little library looks larger than the library of congress. And in 1932 or so, how much film history would there have been?