Cats Review: Cat People Aren’t Sexy!

1 star
Today is my sister’s birthday and she decided that, to celebrate it during my country’s lockdown, we would all watch the Cats movie.
It’s safe to say that by the end of it we were all regretting her choice.
You want to know how bad the Cats movie is?
It’s so bad that all the terrible bad cat puns that could describe this eye cancer of a film have already been used and there are none left.
I can remember the first time I saw the trailer for the film and wondering what the people making this were smoking for them to think this cringe fest was going to be a hit.
Although, I suppose what with the stage production being one of the most successful musicals ever, there was no doubt in their mind that it would be.
Still, this unfortunate misreading of the situation could have been mitigated if the movie used practical effects and makeup for the cat people.
But nope, they had to go full CGI with it and make the cast of Francesca Hayward, Jennifer Hudson, Judi Dench, Idris Elba, Laurie Davidson, Robbie Fairchild, Ian McKellen, Jason Derulo, and many more look like mutated cat monsters that want to eat our faces, great.
And, to top it all off, the original stage production has barely any plot, with the only story element being that all of the jellicle cats (whatever jellicle means) are meeting to decide who will get a new life.

nnoo plot
Cats is just one creepy, boring musical number after another with barely any plot.

Director Tom Hooper tried to add a plot with Macavity serving as the overarching villain but this was incredibly forced and lacked any investment.
So, the majority of Cats consists of these creepy, one note cats introducing themselves in musical numbers that definitely do not match in tone.
There’s comedic numbers (none of which are funny), dramatic numbers (none of which are dramatic), and even horror numbers (I’m pretty sure they aren’t meant to be interpreted that way though).
I will give the movie some credit though, because some of the songs, like “Macavity” and “Beautiful Ghosts”, are actually pretty well sung, with Jennifer Hudson doing a fantastic job with “Memory.”
You just have to close your eyes so you can actually enjoying these songs by not having to see the fur demons.

Jennifer Hudson cat
Hudson admittedly does an amazing job with her musical numbers but the visuals ruin what feels like was supposed to be a powerful performance.

Sadly, for every decent musical number there is a bad or horrifying one, like Rebel Wilson and James Corden’s songs.
However, it is not the creepy nature of the cats that I found to be the films worst attribute.
If anything, parts of the film can be watchable if you are expecting to be creeped out by these CGI abominations.
No, I found the worst part of the film to easily be how boring it is.
As I said, Cats is basically scene after repetitive scene of characters introducing themselves and then never being important again.
By the time the third cat had sung about themselves, I was already bored and just got less and less interested at each new cat’s introduction.
Occasionally the cats would do something that would make me cringe, which would temporarily get my interest back, but then it would just go back to more introduction musical numbers and I would lose interest again.

railway cat
The railway cat number was the moment I realised just how much I was zoning out because of how bored I was.

The best way that I can explain Cats is that it feels like it is walking on a tightrope.
If it falls to one side then it lands on creepy visuals that make you cringe, however, if it falls on the other side then it lands on boring scenes that have no investment.
Oh, and the film has absolutely no coordination so it is constantly falling to one side of the tightrope every minute, only for it to fall again when it tries to get back on.
Cats is easily one of the worst films of 2019.
It has almost no plot, the cat people are unnerving, and it’s boring.
Definitely not “the most joyous event of the holiday season” as the trailers advertised, although did any of us honestly expect it to be?

His Dark Materials, Episode Two, The Idea of North, Review. Don’t be Molded Lyra.

4 stars
“You must let me mold you” Ruth Wilson’s Mrs Coulter tells Dafne Keen’s Lyra over lunch, serving as the the first of many warnings signs of the possessive and almost psychopathic behavior she displays.
Again, directed by Tom Hooper and written by Jack Thorne, the second episode of His Dark Materials “The Idea of North” focuses on the growing cat and mouse game between Lyra and Mrs Coulter as Lyra slowly comes to realise her true intentions.
Having seen the first adaptation, I knew Coulter would not turn out to be a good person and Wilson does a great job portraying her complex personality and the abusive bond she forms with Lyra.

coulter and lyra 2.jpg
Coulter’s friendship with Lyra quickly turns volatile and Lyra refuses to be molded.

Although, Coulter is shown to care for Lyra somewhat as seen by her crying outside of Lyra’s door, however, she is not above hurting Lyra to get her to act the way she want, as seen by her having her daemon attack Pan to hurt Lyra.
Through this it is made clear that if Coulter cannot convince Lyra to be molded then she will do it by force.
This manipulative trait is also made clear through how she acts kind to the abducted children like Roger and Billy (Tyler Howitt), making them believe the letters they write will get to their loved ones, only for her to burn them when she leaves with a satisfied look on her face.
Such a look is also apparent when she tortures Lyra through Pan before accidentally revealing that Lord Asriel is her father, and this reveal does seem to bring a temporary moment of humanity to her, the only moment in the episode that her affection for Lyra seems genuine.
Basically, what I am saying is that Wilson steals the episode with her great performance as the manipulative Coulter.

evil coulter
Wilson pulls off Coulter’s abusive character perfectly, portraying both viciousness and weakness.

That is not to sell Dafne Keen short, though, because she is also amazing as Lyra slowly coming to the realization of how cruel Coulter is and refusing to be molded.
This results in great scenes like when Lyra throws her knowledge of Dust in Coulter’s face.
However, her big revelation about Coulter being connected to the Gobblers does not come through her own investigation but through a random journalist named Adele (Georgina Campbell) informing her, leading to her escape.
Said journalist is then immediately captured and killed by Carlo Boreal (Ariyon Bakare) when he crushes her daemon in his hand.
Seriously, though, how unlucky is Adele to have a butterfly for a daemon?
All it would take is for someone to accidentally step on it and she’d die.
Talk about bad luck.

Adele is killed very quickly upon being discovered showing the brutality of the Magisterium. 

As well as killing the journalist, Boreal plays another interesting role in the episode by traveling to another dimension which appears to be our own.
He is looking for the man Asriel claimed had been murdered in the first episode by presenting his head, which Boreal now believes was not him.
Boreal hires someone to track the man down, showing his snake daemon to appease him.
Now that I think about that, though, it is kind of funny how the villains of this series are all telegraphed by their stereotypically evil daemons.
A snake, a bug, a lizard, what’s next a rat?
Anyway, other characters that the episode focuses on are the Gyptians whose hunt for the missing children remains unsuccessful, although they are getting closer.
Sadly, Lyra now looks to be one of the children they have to save because she is kidnapped by the Gobblers at the end of the episode after escaping from Coulter.
All in all, I found “The Idea of North” to be just as good of an episode as the premiere episode, making His Dark Materials look to be another hit show this year, quality wise.

His Dark Materials, Episode One, Lyra’s Jordan Review: Enter the World of Daemons.

4 stars
HBO has put out many amazing shows in 2019 from Chernobyl, to Watchmen, to the final season of Game of Thro-oh wait, no, that last one sucked.
Anyways, while HBO did not make its latest show, merely distributed it, that show, His Dark Materials, looks to be another great one nevertheless.
Based off Philip Pullman’s successful trilogy, the story is set in a world where people’s souls manifest as talking animal companions known as daemons.
If this sounds familiar to you but you have not read Pullman’s novel then you probably recognize it from the earlier movie adaptation, The Golden Compass, which got a less than stellar reception to say the least.

The Golden Compass.jpg
Will the new His Dark Materials series go on to be as badly received as The Golden Compass or will it be better?

I have only seen this film once when I was a kid and I thought it was pretty good, although, to be fair, I was only nine and I could not tell the difference between a good and bad move to save my life back then.
In any case, even if The Golden Compass really is as bad as I don’t remember it being, His Dark Materials already looks to be miles better than that film adaption, if the first episode “Lyra’s Jordan” is anything to go by.
Directed by Tom Hooper, and written by Jack Thorne just like every other episode will be, the episode mostly follows the titular Lyra at the beginning of her adventure.
Lyra is played by Dafne Keen who I am glad to see is getting more work.
I loved her performance in Logan and I cannot wait to see what she does with the role of Lyra.

Dafne Keen does a solid job in the first episode of His Dark Materials.

Speaking of the X-Men, James McAvoy is also in the series, playing Lyra’s guardian Lord Asriel.
McAvoy delivers a fantastic performance, especially in an impassioned speech he delivers to his colleagues about Dust to get more funding for his research, which is considered heresy by many.
It is with this and many other moments in the episode that the anti-religious themes of Pullman’s story can be seen.
Along with Keen and McAvoy, another actor to watch out for in this show is Ruth Wilson who plays the sinister Marisa Coulter.
Another thing I enjoyed about “Lyra’s Jordan” is how the daemons are shown to be incorporated into the world.
We get a Gyptian ceremony in the episode, which shows how they celebrate when a daemon settles as a single animal.
Many of the daemons are established from Lyra’s Pan (Kit Connor) and Asriel’s Stelmaria (Helen McCroy).
Then there is the fact that all of these daemons have great CGI.
The downside of this is that they did not have the budget to animate many side characters’ daemons, which are just never acknowledged, but this is better than having a bunch of completely fake looking daemons running around.

Lyra and Pan.jpg
The Daemons are very well animated, blending seamlessly with the actors as can be seen by this shot of Lyra and Pan.

And, as stated, the daemons that are in the episode are incorporated so well that it makes the world feel lived in by them.
However, this has a negative effect on the characters as a Gyptian child is kidnapped after the celebration of his brother’s daemon.
Many Gyptian children are revealed to have been kidnapped by the end of the episode
by the so called Gobblers.
Even children who aren’t Gyptians like Lyra’s friend Roger (Lewin Lloyd) are taken and this is one of the reasons why Lyra departs with Coulter at the end of the episode, with her alethiometer in hand.
Overall, the first episode of His Dark Materials, “Lyra’s Jordan” is a solid start that has me interested to see where the series will go.
Hopefully, this will be liked by fans of Pullman’s novel and not go on to be regarded as another The Golden Compass.