Though it teeters on the verge of being strange, there's still something quite magical and elegant about Hooper's adaptation of Webber's classic show. Bringing a musical from stage to screen is no easy feat, but he pulls it off. That said, for those who aren't familiar with musical theater, acting for the stage, or the performing arts in general, the movie may at times be tough to follow. The pace is frequently slow, and the backstory and character development could be more detailed. But theater lovers new and old will appreciate this take on the popular musical -- and considering that it's been many years since Cats closed on Broadway, the movie is a great way to introduce a new generation to Eliot and Webber's work. The old-world feel, dimly lit set design, and rustic vibe are refreshing. Some of the CGI affects can feel unrealistic, but the beautiful vocals, the synchronized dance sequences, and the story's touching messages help make up for that. The soundtrack is very appropriate, soft and beautiful.
But how's the cast? Well, Hudson, Hayward, and Jason Derulo are definite standouts in their roles. As Rum Tum Tugger, Derulo is lively and entertaining, a scene stealer. As Grizabella, Hudson demonstrates great emotional range and gets to show off her stellar vocals. Hayward has a meek innocence as Victoria that lends itself to great vulnerability and transparency on-screen; she's lovely to watch. As Macavity, Idris Elba is a stretch, but his ability to take on his character's cynicism and dark nature shows his range. James Corden as Bustopher Jones is entertaining to say the least, and Taylor Swift as Bombularina is fun, seductive, and naughty -- her take on the character just works. Watching Rebel Wilson commit to playing Jennyanydots is lots of fun, and veteran actress Dench is quite fitting as the wise sage Old Deuteronomy. The dance choreography, paired with the songs, helps the entire ensemble shine. Seeing all these classically trained dancers and singers perform offers a positive example for kids and young adults, proving that hard work and discipline have benefits. And the movie's positive themes -- finding the courage to let go of pain, embracing new beginnings, and understanding that you belong -- are worth noting. It can be strange and over the top, but Cats is also unique, and there's something to be said for that.