The first full Cats reviews are in and they are brutal. The first trailer arrived during this year's San Diego Comic-Con, which was an odd time to debut it. When the first footage began to spread, viewers were horrified with what they saw on their screens. The backlash was swift and it quickly took over the promotional narrative and did the same when a second trailer was released with updated CGI effects. As it turns out, going back in for minor redesigns was not really going to help with critics.
As of this writing, Cats is sitting with a 17% Rotten rating from a total of 89 reviews. Out of said reviews, only 15 of them of them are Fresh. Starting with the good, many critics, even in the negative reviews, highlight the all-star cast and their effort to save the movie. For some, it worked. The big screen adaptation of the iconic musical has been praised for being fun and whimsical, but those are only a tiny fraction of the reviews released so far.
For the most part, Cats is being torn apart by critics who call it a train wreck. One reviewer notes, "For the most part, Cats is both a horror and an endurance test." As for the horror reference, there have been many who were already scared to death of the human faces pasted on cat bodies who were running around nude. However, there is more lurking under the surface as even the mice and cockroaches have the human faces. Another review states, "Cats defies belief because it exists and yet at every turn, it is very obvious that Cats should not exist."
As with any project with a lot of CGI, the Cats production spent a lot of time and effort (and money) to make things look as psychedelic as they do. For some, the fever dream fits in well with doing something different for the big screen version of the Broadway Musical. For others, it's a giant waste of resources. John Nugent from Empire had this to say about the movie and its special effects.
"Neither human nor cat, they all look like laboratory mutants put through a Snapchat filter. Your brain will never comprehend it. It's jarring from the first minute and remains jarring until the last."
Laboratory mutants is not exactly how you want your characters described in Cats and using a Snapchat filter when millions of dollars was spent on special effects isn't really all that great either. While a lot has been said about the look of the movie, most of the critical blame falls on director Tom Hooper. "The real villain here is Hooper, who has conceptualized a movie that claims to honor its performers while smothering them in digital makeup," says one reviewer. There are many more reviews that claim the movie feels unfinished, which is also a distraction. You can check out all of the Cats reviews over at Rotten Tomatoes.