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‘Cats’ trailer plunges into the uncanny valley of digital fur

You've never seen Idris Elba, Judi Dench and Taylor Swift looking like this.
Amrita Khalid, @askhalid
July 18, 2019
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VFX artists had a go with the feature film Cats. Universal unveiled a full-length trailer today that gave us the first look at what the film's human actors look like as CG-transformed felines. While the Broadway version of Cats relied on elaborate costumes and makeup, the Jellicle Cats in the Tom Hooper film are heavily aided by visual effects wizardry. Earlier footage revealed the film's actors performing in leotards with markers, with the promise of "digital fur" being added later in post-production.

So far, reactions to the visual effects in Cats have been negative or mixed. CG often gets criticized for not being realistic enough or being too obvious. But hyper-realism isn't the goal in a film like Cats (unlike, for example, the CG deployed in a film like The Lion King or a show like Game of Thrones). The Jellicle Cats in the stage play are not meant to resemble actual cats, and neither do the humanoid cats in the feature film.

Today the use of CG is a risky venture in any film -- backlash from fans on social media can be instantaneous and unforgiving. Fans had negative reactions to the Scar character in The Lion King, and widespread hatred of the lead character in Sonic the Hedgehog forced the studio to make changes.

Even if the reaction to its visual effects is less than stellar, Cats still has an A-list cast to fall back on. The film will star Idris Elba, Dame Judi Dench, Taylor Swift, Ian McKellen, James Corden and Jennifer Hudson. The film is due to be released in theatres in December. You can watch the trailer below.

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