Have you ever had a conversation with someone where something comes up, insert popular show here, and someone has never seen it? The first thing most people do is shame that person with sentences like “have you been living under a rock or something?” These are things usually said after people’s mouths return from the dropped position as they wrap their head around the fact someone hasn’t seen something popular. Well this is the point where some of you may want to say such things to me as I admit I have never seen the musical Cats, nor know what it’s about. That though has changed and I have thoughts, but first a quick run-down on these alley cats.
On one faithful night a cat is abandoned in an alley where he meets a group of cats that call themselves the Jellicles. This night though is not a ordinary night, but a special one as the Jellicles are set to choose the cat among them who will be ascending to the Heaviside Layer and to go on to live their best life. The way to the Heaviside Layer is not to be good and noble, but to be the most talented as the selection is done by simply put, a talent show. What follows is a night of song and dance as they try and pinpoint the one who will be the chosen. There is one cat who thinks he deserves to go and he will do whatever it takes to be chosen, which includes taking the competition out.
Now if you just read synopsis, it might lead to thoughts of sounding like a world where someone who was under the influence would make up. If so, then we are on the same page. That though did not deter me from my excitement to see this movie, but then the movie started and it was all downhill from there. Of course the music is good, as it is written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, who would be on the Mount Rushmore of people who write musicals if one existed. In fact the peak moment in the film is when Jennifer Hudson sings Memories and makes you feel things you didn’t even know you could feel. Those feelings quickly evaporate as pretty much every other part of the film leaves you wondering why the CGI looks so terrible and who thought it would be a good idea to make digital dancers instead of showing real graceful and natural movements. Aside from the ludicrous storyline, the filmmaking decisions made here mostly lead to further and further bouts of confusion.
This is not Director Tom Hooper’s first time talking a musical, but Les Misérables doesn’t have people who look like cats and there lies the problem. This film is CGI’ed to death, so along with the dance numbers the look of the entire film, much like after the first trailer continues to be off-putting. I would suspect that the thought was that the technology was ready for such a challenge, but I can tell you it was not. What you see takes away from what you hear and in this case the music is drowned out but appearances that are hard to look past. This for sure was a letdown and even though the felines are all fighting to get to cat heaven, this version of Cats belongs in the film equivalent of the ‘other’ place.