D: Tom Hooper

Universal/Amblin/Working Title/Monumental/Really Useful (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward & Tom Hooper)

UK/US 🇬🇧 🇺🇸 2019

110 mins


W: Tom Hooper & Lee Hall [based on the stage musical by Andrew Lloyd-Webber & the poems "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" by T.S. Eliot]

DP: Christopher Ross

Ed: Melanie Oliver

Mus: Andrew Lloyd-Webber

PD: Eve Stewart

Francesca Hayward (Victoria), Idris Elba (Macavity), Jennifer Hudson (Grizabella), Laurie Davidson (Mr. Mistoffelees), Judi Dench (Old Deuteronomy), James Corden (Bustopher Jones), Jason Derulo (Rum Tum Tugger), Ian McKellen (Gus the Theatre Cat), Taylor Swift (Bombalurina), Rebel Wilson (Jennyanydots)

The internet can be a cruel mistress, as proven with the marketing and release of this movie, with many calling this the worst film of the decade.

While I have to admit that the film is a mess, it certainly isn't without some merit, and though the human-cat hybrid CGI visual effects do look like the stuff of nightmares, I also have to recognise the gamble that Tom Hooper took adapting Andrew Lloyd-Webber's long-running stage musical to the screen.

I shan't go into the plot, as there really isn't one. It's more a montage of song & dance numbers as a group of stray cats (named the Jellicles) all compete in a show so one of them can be rewarded with a new life by Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench).

Visually, the film does try for something different, though something definitely gets lost in translation carrying over from the stage, but there's enough dazzling choreography and fine songs to prevent this from being boring, even though it does look batshit crazy.

There certainly are positives, especially for the production design as well as the performances of Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Idris Elba and particularly professional ballerina Francesca Hayward, making her film debut here in what amounts to the default lead performance.  Unfortunately, the good is unbalanced due to the execution of the visual effects, as well as terrible performances from James Corden, Rebel Wilson and Taylor Swift, who must have been told would be released during pantomime season when they filmed their scenes.

The film could be classed as a failure, both financially and critically, but there are far worse films to have been released in 2019 and certainly during the rest of the years earlier in the decade.


Francesca Hayward in Cats
Francesca Hayward in Cats