Banerjee: Cats doesn’t have nine lives in 2019

The photorealistic animation, paired with out-there themes of the classic musical, may make the film unpalatable for modern moviegoers.

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Banerjee: Cats doesn’t have nine lives in 2019

Anna Banerjee, Columnist

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Andrew Lloyd Webber changed musical theater in the early ’80s when he came out with Cats. Was it changed for the better? Perhaps not, but it certainly opened up a venue for furry-adjacent theater in a way that most modern avenues would not be open to. And, now, in the year 2019, the world of cinema will be changed again by Tom Hopper when just in time for the holiday season, Cats the movie will be released.

Except, if the musical was a terrifyingly confusing stretch of musical theater, the film seems to be somehow even more terrifying.

The Jellicles will be back in December to make the Jellicle choice, but should they? The trailer has already come under a great deal of flack recently, mainly because of the horrifying animation style. For whatever reason, the whole film is a mixture between CGI and live action, leading to some disturbing content. Characters don’t look like cats, but they certainly don’t look like humans. Maybe that’s what a Jellicle is.

The internet has blown up with complaints and cries of fear in the face of a giant anthropomorphic cat-man James Corden (as Bustopher Jones). No one knows how to respond to Taylor Swift’s Bombalurina. If you didn’t know what Cats was before, you probably have even less of a clue what it is now.

As a film major, the Cats movie scares me. As a fan of musical theater, the movie scares me. As a human, and not a cat, the movie scares me.

More than that, I’m a little sad about how great a movie Cats could have been. Strange, yes. Weird, definitely. But I don’t know what this is supposed to be really. Maybe this is the movie we’ve all been waiting for — an abstract, tumultuous experience in which Ian McKellen plays opposite Taylor Swift. But, I somehow doubt that. It will most likely be tumultuous but in a Lovecraftian sense.

Animation and CGI have taken a real turn recently, in light of Disney remakes and films like Cats. From The Lion King, which overplays its photorealism to a point where it loses its animated charm, to this, which somehow overplays photorealism and underplays it by diving into fantasy too much, animation is in a weird phase right now. If we’re going to keep making CGI remakes of famous stories or movies, we need to address what good animation looks like — and what it doesn’t.

Cats may be a good movie, and I won’t know until December, but Cats may also be a catastrophic disaster. All I know is that Andrew Lloyd Webber, the absolute madman, could not have foreseen this turn of events.

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