Our First Look at ‘Cats’ is Here and, Oh Boy…

Anyone who questioned the existence of a movie based on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s legendary musical Cats will not be reassured by the first trailer that released today.

From the moment this project was announced, I was among the many who debated the wisdom of creating a film adaptation of the Cats musical. It’s not that I don’t like Cats, I actually enjoy it very much. However, I very much agree with the expression “just because you CAN adapt something to film, doesn’t mean you SHOULD.” And judging by what I can see, the Cats trailer is doing nothing to change my mind.

Oh where to begin…well, let’s start with the one positive I can glean from this trailer: the music. If nothing else, the songs (especially “Memory”) appear to be completely on point. Other than that…

It’s the CGI on the feline characters. This trailer is invoking the uncanny valley so hard it’s almost painful. They don’t look right, they don’t feel right, and if you can’t look at any of the characters without feeling weirded out, there’s going to be serious problems. I almost understand why they’ve done the CGI as they did; they’re trying to emulate the iconic look of the stage versions of the characters. However, the look just hasn’t translated from makeup to CGI and it shows.

Also, judging from the trailer, it looks like they’ve shoehorned in a new plot. My guess is that we’re going to follow that white cat-person into the world of the Jellicle cats, and the story will then center around that. I get that the story probably needed to be adjusted for a film adaptation, but I’m honestly not a fan of this choice either.

The cast is loaded, with Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella, Idris Elba as Macavity (the one casting that genuinely excites me), Taylor Swift, James Corden, Rebel Wilson, Ian McKellen, and even Judi Dench, just to name a few. However, I really don’t think this all-star cast is going to be able to save the film.

The film’s premise remains identical to the stage show at least:

Over the course of a single night, a tribe of cats called the Jellicles make what is known as “the Jellicle choice” and decide which cat will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new life.

What do you think about this first look at the Cats movie?

Cats is directed by Tom Hooper and is scheduled to release on December 20, 2019.

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Becky has a PhD. in Musicology and regularly blogs on films and film music. She also loves science fiction films.