In 2012, King’s Speech director Tom Hooper brought to the silver screen one of the world’s most lucrative musicals. Les Misérables went on to be a critical darling earning nomination upon nomination, proving once again that movie musicals can be both well executed and successful if the right person is behind the camera.
So it makes sense that Universal would choose Hooper as the primary choice of director for their upcoming adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 80’s classic – Cats. With a top-notch director, a star studded cast and one hell of a memorable score, you would think that this movie would be the one to steal the year of 2019 for its own.
However, there was always the question, how are they going to do this? Cats is a visual orgasm on stage, but it is also made up of a group of performers wearing furry legwarmers and face paint. So how was the new film going to change that? Or rather how were they going to adapt it?
Well with the release of the first trailer for the movie, I think it’s safe to say that what they have executed is both hypnotic and terrifying. Because of dressing our actors in modernised variations of the stage costumes, or simply animating the entire film, we have our actors’ faces pasted onto the bodies of CGI felines. And the result isn’t exactly pretty. I honestly think that Rebel Wilson is the worst offender in terms of uncanny valley. However certain dancers in the cast also seem to have limbs of liquid, with the poorly executed special effects making it appear as if they were born without bones.
The rest of the film is striking in the right way. The sets look gorgeous and the film carries Hooper’s signature aesthetic of decrepit glamour. With the sets resembling the crumbling ruins of a dystopian Versailles, beautiful and macabre in equal measure.
The trailer also seems to be hinting that Victoria (the white cat) will be taking the leading role in this particular adaptation, with newcomer Frances Hayward being given the most trailer time. Could this be our first glimpse at how this movie is trying to inject some narrative into the musical, actually developing characters with personality and development. We’ll have to see where this goes.
But right now I am intrigued. Even though the trailer may have made me recoil in disgust at some points, I am still thinking about it, which I guess means that in some small way I do believe.