Make no mistake, director Tom Hooper’s Cats adaptation takes freaky to an entire new degree. The whimsy premise belies a way more sinister underworld, the place the human-cats sing and dance to the sounds of ecstasy and desperation. However, the movie is marred past restore by a pompous sound design that drowns out the already cheesy particular results and story behind it. In many senses, it’s a horror movie.
The story follows the deserted Victoria (Francesca Hayward) who finds herself in an odd tribe of cats all desperately hoping to be the chosen Jellicle. They train her that the competition permits the Jellicle cat to be reborn. The telling of the story via Victoria borders on nauseating as she turns into a mirror onto which the opposite cats replicate their very own selves and points. She is seen most often being pushed and prodded into varied eventualities, resembling when she turns into a groupie for Jason Derulo or when the dual cats affect her to steal. As the plot balloons into outlandish proportions, so too does Victoria’s frailty.
To categorize Cats as a horror movie will shock those that count on a light-hearted remake that options the likes of James Corden and Taylor Swift—each of whom are minor facet characters that outshine even the nice Judi Dench. But the musical is a surreal terror, and the traumatic visuals are however a slice of it. Show this to any child on the market, and they are going to be assured nightmares of undulating, muscular human-cats. The costumes and particular results are ghoulish in that they’re each over-the-top and too life-life on the similar time.
The musical rating solidifies the movie’s menacing tone with seems like stretched-to-the-brim accordions and digital harp chords hanging dubiously within the silence between dialogue and tune. Particularly, every time Idris Elba’s villainous Macavity cat slinks into the scene, the music works completely in tandem along with his wealthy voice and hypnotically altered neon eyes. It helps, too, that his cat go well with is generally obscured by a trench coat and hat.
But Cats commits a grave blunder: most of the songs are unintelligible. One has no thought what these cats are singing about within the first place. Time after time, the music swells above the singing voices, lots of that are skinny and unimpressive to start out, then swamp over the supposed story being informed. Without Victoria’s enormous and expressive eyes or Jennifer Hudson’s showmanship, it’s onerous to know something past snippets of stolen dialogue. The story for the characters is about reclaiming your personhood in a sea of chaos, however the sensory overload for the viewers gives no solace in sight.
The dire proof is within the pudding, particularly within the climactic scene of Hudson’s Grizabella the cat. She’s unhappy and diminished and poor in spirit, however Victoria urges her to sing, and he or she begins to belt out the enduring “Memory”. But once more, the music overwhelms even Hudson’s commanding voice. It’s a travesty to the title of musicals, in addition to a disgrace to Hudson who brings the lion’s share of soul to a seemingly soulless portrayal of gluttonous, cheesy, and eerie cats.
In different phrases, Cats conquers by way of the shock and awe and overpower issue. But given this story is already one of many longest working Broadway productions, perhaps it ought to have let sleeping cats lie.