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‘Cats’ movie review: Not completely hideous, as the songs and acting rescue this CGI mess

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Taylor Swift as Bombalurina in a scene from ‘Cats’

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Taylor Swift as Bombalurina in a scene from ‘Cats’  

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T.S Eliot at the height of his surrealist self would not have imagined such a vision for his poems

The epic toasting this film got calls for gingerly stepping into the theatre. While the skewed perspective is guaranteed to trigger nausea or at least make you question the evidence of your eyes, and the cast would have been better served with make-up rather than CGI, Cats is not completely hideous.

Based on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical, Cats, which in turn is based on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (he must have written in the midst of taking toast and tea in the room women come and go). The Wasteland poet wrote the collection of poems based on cats for his godchildren.

Even after the “modified” CGI, the effects in Cats just do not work. It is beyond distracting to have A-listers such as Judi Dench (Old Deuteronomy), Idris Elba (Macavity), Jennifer Hudson (Grizabella), Ian McKellen (Gus) and Taylor Swift (Bombalurina) with strange cat faces, twitching ears and whiskers and slinky tails appearing from their nether regions.

Cats
  • Director: Tom Hooper
  • Cast: James Corden, Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen,Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson, Francesca Hayward
  • Storyline: An abandoned cat finds a new life among magical alley cats
  • Run time: 109.59 minutes

They are half-cat and half-human with human bodies and hands and feet instead of paws and claws. And so when they meeow and purr or do cat stuff like rub their heads, it comes across as plain weird. I am sure Eliot at the height of his surrealist self would not have imagined such a vision for his poems — those were definitely not pearls that were his eyes.

It is also thanks to the human bodies that the scale does not work. The gigantic car, the fire hydrant or railway sleepers when shown in close-up (for some strange reason there are very few long shots) make your brain bend over backwards trying to get a handle on human cats among gigantic props.

What works in the movie is the soundtrack. One cannot but help sing and tap dance with the Skimbleshanks, The Railway Cat and be carried along a wave of melody on Grizabella’s Memory. Also, full marks to the cast for gamely trying to slink around, spit and hiss at each other. That is an Oscar-worthy performance for sure.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 7:25:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/reviews/cats-movie-review-not-completely-hideous-as-the-songs-and-acting-rescue-this-cgi-mess/article30471093.ece

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