The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical “Cats” will make its debut to the silver screen with a live-action CGI movie. With an all-star cast that includes dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen, Jennifer Hudson, and Idris Elba, as well as fabulous music and eye-popping visuals, it has all the elements of a blockbuster hit. But the first trailer appears to point to the contrary.
Let’s just say not a lot of fans were thrilled with the feline special effects. The movie has been subject of rumors for months and people wondered what the cats in Cats would look like. After the trailer dropped, Cats became a top trending on Twitter, generating over 300,000 polarizing reactions from fans and critics alike.
Digital Fur Technology
Cats has always been known for its weird concept and it’s no doubt challenging to turn the long-running musical into a movie but still, not a lot of people were prepared for the spectacle of big-bosomed, dancing sexy cats with CGI fur.
Tom Hooper, the Oscar-winning director of The King’s Speech and Les Misérables, has long teased that the movie would use a groundbreaking “digital fur technology” to transform the actors into the musical’s iconic characters. Taylor Swift also teased about the feline effects in an interview, saying that the performers were given “a tail that moves naturally, and ears and whiskers,” in a way that “hasn’t been done before.”
The digital fur technology is designed to give the actors a realistic feline appearance, complete with fur but in execution, the effects looked a bit off. For one thing, the face does not really blend with the rest of the characters’ head. Sometimes the actors’ faces looked superimposed on the characters’ heads. The features of the cats were more human than feline.
Because the 38-year-old musical is primarily dance-focused, the movement is a huge part of the production. The trailer gave a brief glimpse of the dance-driven narrative but some were put off by how the dancing looked too human-like. The characters were dancing around on two legs, which do not look cat-like at all, something that some Cats aficionados pointed out.
Also, some media outlets pointed out the odd anatomy of the characters; nipple-less furry mounds for breasts, no butthole, tails that protrude on vaguely obscene parts of the characters’ bodies, the human-cat feet.
Some fans also noticed that the characters’ heads were too big compared to the rest of their bodies. And because the Cats characters maintained the faces of the A-list actors that portray them, the overall effect is unsettling. Some critics say that the characters should’ve retained the costumed looks of the original musical rather than mashing the human and cat-like features together.
The Cats animators had a sharp eye for detail seeing how realistic the production design looked in the trailer but it was obvious that the movie was shot on a soundstage. Before the trailer dropped, it was revealed that the sets would be built to scale to make the characters appear cat-sized. However, the set pieces looked oversized in some shots.
In one scene where the White Cat was sitting on a dinner table with a knife and fork in hand, the character looked smaller than an actual cat. In another scene featuring Rebel Wilson as Jennyanydots, the character gets her paw-hand stuck in a mousetrap, which looked smaller than the real thing. The small candles in the background, they have to be doll-sized to be that small.
Because the characters move on two legs rather than on all fours like a real cat, they look even smaller against the human-sized background.
I don’t know what I expected from CATS’ “digital fur technology” but the short answer is NOT this.
My brain has melted. My eyes are bleeding. There is no god. pic.twitter.com/HMeM0ixal1
— Kristy Puchko (@KristyPuchko) July 18, 2019
Wow, CATS looks great pic.twitter.com/sONg5jgu7e
— Asher 🐙🌍 (@buckligerzwerg) July 18, 2019
Imagine being a human in that world and your cat looks like this pic.twitter.com/QJLM145Zcu
— alanna bennett (@AlannaBennett) July 18, 2019
it has been one full hour since I saw the CATS (2019) trailer and this is the image that will haunt me pic.twitter.com/98Ej35v8v5
— Christina Grace (@C_GraceT) July 18, 2019
why do the cats in the new Cats movie look like bad Medieval cat paintings lmao pic.twitter.com/mIHbJbrIhi
— rae paoletta (in 🇨🇱) (@PAYOLETTER) July 18, 2019
“We’ll give them human bodies, but make them the size of cats.” The decree of a true madman
— Patrick Monahan (@pattymo) July 18, 2019
the James Cordon cat is giving me a panic attack pic.twitter.com/snDc9PzwXd
— Ryan Broderick (@broderick) July 18, 2019
Some reactions aren’t bad, die-hard Cats fans are excited to see the movie.
Cats is going to be the greatest movie of all time
— Megan Amram (@meganamram) July 18, 2019
I worry that the cats movie creative team will see people ripping apart the cgi cats and try to pull a sonic movie by redoing everything
I call to order the campaign #DoNotFixTheCats. we like the cats, we just like them in the way where you like to make fun of something
— Jack Saint (@LackingSaint) July 18, 2019
Cats the Movie has 5 months to go before it hits theaters and there is no saying if the production would pull a Sonic the Hedgehog makeover or leave the CG effects as they are. But as one Cats fanatic said, “it’s not Cats if it isn’t tacky!’