There has been plenty of criticism thrown at the Cats movie since its release at the end of last year. But a new theory has arisen as to what the real problem with the film is: the cats' human noses.
It seems too simple to be true, but the more we dig into it the more we think there might be something to it. In contrast to the stage show upon which it's based, which uses heavily stylised cat costumes, the creators of the film decided to embrace the powers of CG when it came to bringing the cats to life.
So-called 'digital fur technology' was used give the actors their realistic feline coats (although it wasn't quite finished when the movie premiered, which led to Universal having send out a new version to cinemas with CGI corrections). Problem is, these realistic feline coats are combined with decidedly un-feline hands, feet, and – yes – noses. The result is, to put it politely, distractingly odd.
How the characters are brought to life can have a huge impact on how effective a story is (see our roundup of character design insights for more on this). Writer Dana Schwartz sent out the following tweet last week: "I've been thinking about the movie Cats a lot and what went wrong with it, and I think my answer comes down to: human noses."
Since then the tweet has blown up – and there's plenty of evidence stacking up in favour of Schwartz's claim. First of all, check out these (nose-free) paintovers from artist Sae, showing how the characters could have looked.
In her reimagining of Taylor Swift's Bombalurina (above) and Sir Ian McKellen's Gus 'Asparagus' the Theatre Cat (below), Sae has not only done away with those offending noses, but also added some more personality to the characters' coats.
While at face value we'd say it's a strong improvement, we know that its one thing to paint over a movie still and quite another to realistically mimic that look in 3D over the course of a feature film. However, there are more examples to consider.
One tweeter shared a shot of the 'Catkind' race that featured in classic British TV show Doctor Who. Again, no human noses – and we think all the better for it. There's not much information about how these humanoid cats were brought to life, but it looks much more like prosthetics and makeup than CGI.
Finally, we have the original stage show itself. This doesn't even shoot for realism, but instead uses stylised costumes and makeup to capture the essence of its feline characters. And somehow, even that looks more cat-like than Paramount's efforts.
While we wouldn't go as far as to say it's are the sole reason Cats has flopped, we can't help but agree a more cat-like nose could have made all the difference. For a look at 3D effects done well, check out our roundup of the greatest CGI movie moments of all time.