Cats movie review: There isn’t enough of hissing or clawing to draw blood and hence lend the film colour.
Cats movie cast: Francesa Hayward, Idris Elba, Laurie Davidson, Judi Dench, Robbie Fairchild, Rebel Wilson, Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, Ian McKellen, James Corden
Cats movie director: Tom Hooper
Cats movie rating: 1.5 stars
If a cat has nine lives, Cats can certainly claim a much longer lifetime. T S Eliot’s collection of poems going back to 1939 is the fourth-longest-running Broadway show and the sixth-longest-running West End production since appearing as an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical first in 1981.
Whether we need Cats then on the big screen is besides the question, particularly if you can get some of Britain’s star marquee names and Taylor Swift on board. What Hooper (The King’s Speech) does with it is another question altogether, with the musical devoid of any real zing and fun. The film revolves around an innocent, abandoned, kind cat called Victoria (played by Hayward, who is the principal dancer in the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden in London), who is almost chalky white both in her appearance and her unblemished demeanour.
Restrained to two looks — astonished and amazed — Victoria adds absolutely nothing to the essential tale of Cats. It is again the story of one night when all the ‘Jellicle’ cats come together for an annual ball, where one of them will be picked to be reborn as anyone they want to be.
There is a lot of leaping, prancing, twitching ears, swaying tails, distracting whiskers, and an amazing amount of fur, in a bleak, empty London. If you can’t follow the songs, all you have are some very shapely people — but for the exception of Wilson and Corden, who lend cheer when around — doing a lot of the above. There isn’t enough of hissing or clawing to draw blood and hence lend the film colour.
Dench and McKellen add gravitas but little more, and Elba as Macavity is used surprisingly little. It’s only Swift, descending perched on a crescent moon, sprinkling sparkling catnip powder, who looks like the cat that got the cream. There is really no other kind you want to watch.