Watching most musicals require a suspension of belief as people don’t break into songs with choreographed dances in everyday life. But watching Cats will require you to suspend your belief, lock it up, and forget about its existence to truly immerse yourself in the magical world of the movie. Cats has one of the biggest ensemble casts of the year, coming close to rivaling The Lion King, which featured the voices of a lot of big-name Hollywood stars. In this, you won’t just hear voices, you’ll also see the actors, albeit as a CGI cat-version of themselves which do not resemble any cats you may have ever seen. The film, whose vaguely threatening tagline, “You will believe”, will be arriving in theatres near Christmas and also calls itself, “The most joyful event of the season”.
From the moment the first trailer released, the internet sunk its claws into Cats. What was it about the film that’s grabbing everyone’s attention, you ask? It’s more than the fact that cats (the animals, not the movie) are widespread on the internet. The original musical that the movie is based on is one of the longest-running musicals in London and on Broadway. It’s been staged thousands of times in cities across the world with actors putting on costumes and dancing on stage among oversized props set in a junkyard. Cats has music composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber who has composed some of the most remarkable musicals from Jesus Christ Superstar to The Phantom of the Opera.
The musical is simple and in terms of a story, it’s about a tribe of Jellicle cats deciding which one of them would have the honor of ascending to the Heaviside Layer – but the story had never been the reason people came to watch it. The reception of the musical itself remains mixed but it has certainly made its mark. It was only fitting that the movie based on the musical would elicit a similar reaction but unlike the 1998 film where the actors wore costumes like the musical, the 2019 movie is using technology to create something nobody imagined.
This film is being brought to life under the direction of Tom Hooper. If his name sounds familiar, it’s probably because his last three movies – The King’s Speech, Les Misérables, and The Danish Girl – have all been nominated for and won Oscar awards. With Webber’s return to give music to the film including a new song written in collaboration with Taylor Swift and Hooper’s award-winning track record, chances are already high that Cats will at least bag Oscar nominations, especially in a music category and that’s without even including the cast.
This is the only movie where you’ll see human-like cats with Oscar-winner Judi Dench playing Old Deuteronomy, Golden Globe-winner Ian McKellen playing Gus The Theatre Cat, Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson playing Grizabella, Emmy-winner James Corden playing Bustopher Jones, Golden Globe nominee Idris Elba playing Macavity, Teen Choice Award-winner Rebel Wilson as Jennyanydots, Teen Choice Award-winner Jason Derulo as Rum Tum Tugger, BAFTA-nominee Ray Winstone playing Growltiger, and American Music Awards’ Artist of the Decade Taylor Swift as Bombalurina. Nothing like this has existed before and nothing is likely to come close in the future unless it becomes a multi-million dollar film that demands a sequel.
The film will be facing tough competition at the box office as it releases close to the releases of Jumanji: The Next Level, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and Little Women, but one thing’s for sure – you will need to see it to believe it.