It was supposed to be a battle of the blockbusters on movie screens all over the United States last weekend (December 20-22) - Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker versus Cats.

It turned out to be one of the most lopsided match-ups in cinema history.

When the dust settled on the box office figures for opening weekend, the latest Star Wars installment had generated nearly $500 million, while Cats brought in a paltry $6.5 million, which is more than $93 million less than the cost of making the movie.

And while nearly everyone else at the movies was flying alongside Luke Skywalker, my wife and I, and just a handful of people were trying to make sense of a group of felines trying to win a talent show in the back alleys of London.

Despite what you've read from a variety of different sources, Cats is not the worst thing to ever hit the big screen, far from it.

Some of the individual performances were quite good - especially the singing of Jennifer Hudson and Taylor Swift, the dancing of Steven McRae and Francesca Hayward, and the comedy of James Corden and Rebel Wilson.

The problem lies in the origins of Cats itself.

Most of the 33 cats in the film go back to Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, a 1939 book of poetry by T.S. Eliot, with each poem telling the story of a different cat.

Other cats came from later Eliot works and some were created for the long-running Andrew Lloyd Weber musical, which debuted on London's West End in 1981 and on Broadway in 1982. All tolled, Cats had more than 16,000 combined performances on the stage in those two cities and still ranks as one of the most successful musicals of al-time.

That ragtag collection of stories may have worked on the stage, but at the movies, it comes across more as a series of vignettes, rather than a traditional story with a beginning, middle, and end.

Without the flow of a good storyline and a clear understanding of what is exactly going on, the film is very disjointed at times.

 

The look of the film is both impressive and unnerving.

The computer-generated scenes of old London were great but the appearance of the actors took some getting used to.

Unlike the costumed characters in the stage version, the cast of the 2019 film is sporting 'digital fur', a creation of computer technology. It gives the actors a more realistic appearance, although it is a bit creepy at first.

Bottom line - if you love good singing and are a sucker for an A-list cast, you can do a lot worse.

The good news is you won't have to wait long before Cats is out of theaters and available for you to watch at home.


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