I was fully prepared to enjoy it as a shitshow because I’d heard so many bad things about it. But actually I thought it was pretty good, and even enjoyable for it’s own sake. (And this is coming from someone who was really weirded out by the CGI costumes when I saw the trailer).
I am the type of person who loves watching rant videos, but I noticed that it was the non-musical theater people who were hating most on the film, and the musical theater nerds were all like “Um..it’s Cats…” And as someone who’s seen the stage adaption I have to say: “Yeah, it is Cats”.
That’s not to say that it is exactly like the stage adaption, but most of the changes I think they made were appropriate given the different storytelling medium. The story is based on poetry so elements of it are gonna feel very abstract, but thematically it deals with the concept of individual identity and personal fulfillment alongside collective/community identity and belonging. Both the stage adaption and the film adaption do this in very different ways (the film is focused more on the plot and the stage performance is focused more on exploring the characters) but I’d say both are pretty effective.
Visually, I do have to say, you’ve got to suspend disbelief to enjoy the show. But that’s true of both the stage and film adaption as well.
The best thing about both of them is the dancing and I particularly loved the fluidity of the cinematography that complements the movements of characters like Victoria (the white cat, the ballerina) and Skimbleshanks (the railway cat/tap dancer). It was beautiful.
One thing I do think they could have toned down is Macavity: they decided to make him the antagonist of the film which worked pretty well but I felt like they didn’t need to make LITERALLY EVERYONE have something to do with him. Like, Grizabella doesn’t HAVE to be his ex-girlfirend…she can just be a person (err….cat) who thought she was better than the rest of the tribe gets ostracized for having previously been a jerk when she tries to come back home.
I’d say if you like the stage performance, definitely give this one a try. If you don’t, and especially if you’re not into dance and expressive theatrical storytelling, it’s OK to give this one a pass.