By Mark Saldana
Rating: 1.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Cats is the name. The characters look insane. But if schlock’s your game, then there’s Cats. Tom Hooper’s adaptation of the popular Broadway musical is a bizarre mess. However, if one happens to be a fan of said musical, then my review will probably fall on deaf ears. If it isn’t bad enough that the movie version features some rather strange CGI, the film remains dutifully faithful to the stage version. And from what I have heard from those who have seen the stage musical, it has the weakest of weak stories.
A tribe of “dynamic” cats called “The Jellicles” aspire to be chosen as the “Jellicle choice” by the elder Deuteronomy (Dame Judi Dench). To the winner go the spoils of being sent to the “Heaviside Layer” where heacen supposedly exists. Newly abandoned cat Victoria (Francesca Hayward) meets the Jellicles who must audition before Deuteronomy to be the chosen one. Meanwhile, the wicked and frightful Macavity (Idris Elba), who inexplicably has magical powers, attempts to eliminate his competition in order to win.
If this movie sounds totally absurd and ridiculous, then one can understand exactly how I feel about this strange and bizarre movie. What proceeds is a series of musical numbers which introduce the audience and Victoria to some of the various cat characters aspiring to go.to heaven. Yes, the story is absolutely as thin as it sounds and lacks any real sense of character or story development. Sure the musical numbers exhibit dancing and singing talents, but the whole experience is all so superficial and trite.
It certainly doesn’t help that Tom Hooper and his crew have made some ridiculously surreal choices when it comes to the look of the cat characters. From poor character design to the finished work on the CGI, Cats looks like a really bad, hallucinogenic nightmare. The actors all deliver dedicated and passionate performances in the film. However, aside from the paycheck, this “story” begs the question, “Why?”
And Hooper and his casting director didn’t mess around when it came to signing some truly gifted actors and performers. In addition to Dench, Elba, and Hayward,the movie features performances by James Corden, Jason Derulo, Jennifer Hudson, Sir Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson, Ray Winstone, and more.
The only real highlight of this movie is the performance of the song, “Memory,” by the amazing singer Jennifer Hudson. Not only is it a beautiful song, but Hudson sings it with much passion and heart. I seriously don’t comprehend why or anyone else in this cast would have such fervot for the material, but such is the rather strange case.
And such is the strange case for this baffling piece of musical cinema. Cats is definitely an odd movie vasef on odd stage play. If one happens to be a fan of this out of the box journey, then have at it. Otherwise, one will be in for an unfathomable and unnerving experience.