Cats: Technology Gone Too Far

Kyla Jones, Copy Editor

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Cats. The movie. The myth. The meme. Cats was projected to lose 70 million dollars, and while the movie did not lose half as much in the long run, it is going to go down in the record books as an absolute cat-astrophe.

From a business perspective, Cats should have been incredible. A long list of A-list actors constitute the cast. Most of these actors attended a comprehensive “cat school” in order to act with the mannerisms of a cat. The concept of a cat school may be odd, but the idea is a testament to the effort that went into making this movie. In addition, Cats is a Broadway classic with a massive audience, meaning that fans of the Broadway musical would watch it. The choreography lives up to its Broadway counterpart. The movie features a variety of professional dancers who perform in complex numbers. For example, Francesca Hayward, a principal dancer in the Royal Ballet, executes a graceful solo. Unrealistic CGI muddies her movements, but even hyper-real fur cannot mask Hayward’s talent.

However, the movie was terrible. Why, exactly? For me, it boils down to the story and the CGI.

 

The story is, in frank terms, wack. Even when watching the Broadway musical, the audience may not have any idea what they have just watched. The plot is sourced from a collection of poems by T.S. Elliot, a compilation that was never meant to comprise a complete story. As a result, the plot jumps from scene to scene for no reason, throwing common sense to the wind. What is a jellicle cat? You may never know. That being said, Broadway can play fast and loose with story conventions because of the musical medium and nature of the production. Hollywood cannot.

Now… the CGI. Cats dared to go where few movies have gone before. Universal attempted to make the next Avatar, believing that its revolutionary technology would take the production to the next level. Unfortunately, the alleged centerpiece of the movie became its downfall. The movie was released unfinished, decreasing the quality of the finished product. Universal essentially released a “patch” the day after Cats premiered, with more finished special effects. This patch removed some of the defects that eagle-eyed viewers could spot in the sidelines, such as a human hand, feet phasing from the floor and other odd errors. Fans of the theater production have pointed out that on Broadway, there is a level of disconnect between the actors and the characters they play. Each actor on stage is distinctly human with a cat costume. The movie ignores this divide by creating an uncanny valley where distinctly cat bodies have creepy human faces, creating an even worse combination in the process. I could barely stand watching the trailers, caught up by uncannily human eyes on the same body that bore cat-like feet.

If I could erase this movie from my memory, I would. As it were, I’m stuck with a nightmare that not even bleach can undo. The only thing I can do in retaliation is give this movie negative one out of five stars.