Cats film review: catnip or dog’s dinner?

Taylor Swift as Bombalurina in Cats.
Taylor Swift as Bombalurina in Cats.

DESPITE being one of the longest running stage musicals on Broadway and the West End, when the first trailer for Cats came out earlier this year it was met with almost universal condemnation.

This was mainly due to the decision to make the singing and dancing felines look like people who had got stuck halfway through transforming into cats.

The final product does not provide further explanation for this choice and in fact this stylisation diminishes the effect of the choreography; it is hard to feel impressed by the skills of the dancers when everything looks so unreal.

But if you can get passed the fever dream CGI and like me you have a nostalgic love for the musical, then these London cats singing poems about their lives will fill you with an inexpressible sense of magic and joy.

Judi Dench as Old Deuteronomy.

The plot linking each musical number is that a group of cats are coming together one night for a ball where Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench) will decide which one gets to ascend to the Heaviside Layer, cat heaven, and receive another life.

The film positions stray cat Victoria (Francesca Hayward) as the protagonist and adds in a side plot where the evil Macavity (Idris Elba) kidnaps the Jellicle Ball contenders which helps to make slightly more sense of the story than the stage version.

It is baffling why actors like Rebel Wilson who cannot sing were cast, but the professional singers and particularly the musical theatre performers provide stunning and spine tingling renditions of each iconic number.

While non-fans should probably steer clear, Cats is certainly a cinema experience like no other.

THE ESSENTIALS

Cats (CTC)

Director: Tom Hooper

Starring: Judi Dench, Taylor Swift, Idris Elba

Three and half stars

In cinemas Boxing Day

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