by Eoghan Creedon
The adaption of famous stage musicals to the big screen has had a mixed history. For every success like Mamma Mia, you have a failure like Les Misérables. The latest culprit to try its hand at it is Cats. The famous Andrew Lloyd Webber musical has recently been adapted into a film, and it is truly awful. The film directed by Academy Award winning director Tom Hooper is truly a unique cinematic experience. Cats is a film that should be seen by everyone, but also a film that should be avoided at all costs. Its mind boggling to say the least.
The musical Cats is known for not having a cohesive story as it is based on a series of poems by T.S Elliot entitled ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’. his film stays true to its source material by also not having a cohesive story. The general structure of the film has a character mention a different character, then a song is sung about that character. Then another character is mentioned, and they sing a song about that character. That happens for two hours and that’s the entire film. That is not an exaggeration. Faithful adaptions from text to screen are always a difficult task, just look at any video game movie ever made. However, that is no excuse. Cats had a budget of $95 million. It would be fair to say that at least some of that should have gone to a team of writers in order to create a compelling story, or any story at all. Instead, it can be safely assumed that the majority of the budget was spent on the cast.
The cast for Cats boasts quite a few stellar names. Cats sees legends of the industry Dame Judi Dench and Sir Ian McKellen take to the screen in what is both of their worst performances in their esteemed careers. Modern powerhouses Idris Elba and Rebel Wilson are joined by the likes of Taylor Swift and James Corden to round up this all star cast. However, a great cast does not always equal success, and that is an understatement with regards to Cats. There is not one stand out performance from the film. Each performance is just as bad as the next. This film reduces Ian McKellen, SIR Ian McKellen, an actual Knight, to utter the words “meow meow meow meow” in the middle of a song. James Corden sings a song about how fat his character is whilst eating the entire time and is almost never seen again. Rebel Wilson’s character eats cockroaches with human faces in the middle of her big musical number. Pop stars Taylor Swift and Jason Derulo (you sang his name, admit it) each sing one song and are never seen again. Why bother spending all of that money on a star-studded cast if you’re not going to use them?
Cats is visually striking, in the worst way imaginable. The CGI is laughable and horrifying all in one. Whatever little budget was left from hiring the cast was spent on trying to animate human beings to look like life sized cats. Yes, it looks just as horrendous as it sounds. In the stage musical the actors wear cat suits and cat make up and it works just fine. It allows you to suspend your disbelief the maximum amount a musical about singing cats can allow you to. There is no reason why the same approach could not have been taken for the screen adaptation. The CGI is unbearably distracting, and the character models are extremely inconsistent. Each character has a human face, human hands and human feet. However, some cats wear shoes for no reason and some cats wear clothes without explanation either. Ironically, all items of clothing seen are made of fur, so it isn’t unreasonable to assume that the cats who wear clothes skinned their own kind to make a nice coat for themselves.
Not only is the movie painful to watch, it is also painful to listen to. Whatever way the songs were mixed, it led to the vocals being completely inaudible in most songs. Each song is roughly five minutes in length and they take up about 95% of the two-hour run time. Imagine sitting through two hours of straight musical numbers. Not particularly desirable. Now imagine sitting through two hours of straight musical numbers where you can’t understand anything that is being said, you’re in tremendous amounts of pain, you question your life choices that led you to sitting through this train wreck of a movie and you now find yourself longing for the sweet release of death. That’s pretty much Cats in a nutshell.
Cats gave me not one, not two, but three separate headaches in the space of 90 minutes. It was so bad that I had to step outside for almost 10 minutes just to gather myself mentally and emotionally. This movie broke me on so many levels. I can safely say that Cats is without a doubt the worst film I have ever had the misfortune of seeing.
I give it 0/10.