Cats: Claws out for movie trailer

By Paul Glynn
Entertainment & Arts reporter

Taylor Swift in CatsImage source, Universal
Image caption,
Taylor Swift as the flirtatious Bombalurina

Universal have released the trailer for the new Cats movie and critics have been digging their claws in.

The big screen adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical boasts a fur-midable cast including Taylor Swift, Idris Elba and Jennifer Hudson.

However, many online were left feline puzzled by Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper's new creation.

Film critic Wenlei Ma wrote: "I have no words. It's just a jumble of emotions ranging from horror to befuddlement."

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"Oof, this cast is so haphazard," opined Candice Frederick - scratching her head. "I forgot Jason Derulo was in this too... I really wish I saw the Broadway show because I can't make heads or tails of what is even going on in this trailer."

Laura Kramer added: "Still excited, also very confused."

"What were they thinking?" asked The New York Times, which notes "we have five months to get used to it," ahead of the movie's December release.

Image source, Universal
Image caption,
Idris Elba plays Macavity - the master criminal
Image source, Universal
Image caption,
Jennifer Hudson, as Grizabella, sings the musical's best-known song, Memory

Earlier in the week a pre-trailer trailer showed how "digital fur" had been used to turn the actors and meow-sicians into all singing/all dancing animals. But some of the CGI designs of the human-cat faces and anthropomorphised bodies have got some people in a flap.

One writer compared them to Paramount's Sonic the Hedgehog, who was sent back to the drawing board after his human-looking teeth were criticised online earlier this year.

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"I don't know why you're all freaking out over miniature yet huge cats with human celebrity faces and sexy breasts performing a demented dream ballet for kids," declared Louis Virtil.

James Dyer from Empire seems allergic to the Cats trailer too and he was not a fan of this particular pose from Rebel Wilson, who plays Jennyanydots.

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The trailer gives us a snippet of another Oscar-winner, Hudson - who plays the outcast Grizabella - performing the show-stopping Memory.

Get Out filmmaker Jordan Peele, however, enjoyed one joker's suggestion that the creepy-looking production would have fitted better with the music from his horror film, Us.

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In all fur-ness, Hollywood CGI blockbuster Avatar was widely mocked at first and went on to become one of the biggest-selling box office smashes of all time, while The Greatest Showman suffered similar ridicule before becoming a music film sensation as well.

The Huff Post declared: "The Cats trailer looks absolutely ridiculous, And people can't get enough of it."

Other critics, including Erick Weber, think Hooper's production will ultimately purr-suade people to change their minds. He wrote: "Could definitely see #CatsMovie having similar BO path as #TheGreatestShowman, critically maligned, audience-adored, absolutely kills it financially through holidays."

Scott Mendleson from Forbes is also looking forward to seeing the full feature play out. "The first trailer for #CatsMovie is appropriately terrifying and insane, like a drug-induced nightmare made real. I can't wait!" he grinned.

Image source, Universal
Image caption,
First look at Dame Judi Dench as the wise Old Deuteronomy
Image source, Universal
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Ballet star Francesca Hayward is Victoria

On Wednesday, the studio allowed fans a look inside the making of the film and Hooper, who won the Oscar for best director for The King's Speech in 2011, spoke in glowing terms about its hip-hop influence.

He enlisted the help of Hamilton's Tony-winning choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and dance duo Les Twins to give his cats some street-smart dance moves, as well as introducing Royal Ballet principal dancer Francesca Hayward in a key role.

Image source, Universal
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Rebel Wilson and the giant door

They also made a giant set, so a litter of stars - including Brits James Corden, Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Judi Dench - could view things from the cats' perspective.

Some people, though, think the epic scale of it makes the cats look more like mice.

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The story, which was originally based on T.S Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats from 1939, is about deciding which of the cats will ascend to the Heaviside Layer - aka cat heaven.

According to the director there's a deeper message too that makes it relevant to human life in 2019.

"At the centre of this incredibly entertaining comedic fantastical musical is a very timely story about the importance for inclusion and redemption," said Hooper, who also adapted another classic musical, Les Miserables, for the big screen with big names in 2012.

Now, far from killing it, fans' curiosity about his new film could yet keep the Cats box office dream alive. But after the first trailer, it seems it's on to the second of its nine lives already.

Cats is out in UK cinemas in December

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