Is Cats as bad as the reviews suggest?

Copyright: Universal Pictures

By Adam Brannon
Film Reviewer from Movie Metropolis for What’s On Hub

It’s hard to think of a better director to helm a live-action adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s iconic stage musical, Cats, than Tom Hooper. Already with 2013’s Les Misérables under his belt and receiving critical acclaim (and an Oscar no less) from 2011’s The King’s Speech, he’s adept in this field of film-making.

Nevertheless, Cats has been under much scrutiny since its trailers debuted earlier this year, with criticism being levelled at the unusual choice of CGI to render a roster of famous faces as the titular felines. But is the finished product a new classic or a cat-astrophy?

Copyright: Universal Pictures

A tribe of cats must decide yearly which one will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new life, but villainous feline Macavity (Idris Elba) won’t let them go without a fight.

Unfortunately, despite Tom Hooper’s best efforts behind the camera, Cats is a disaster from start to finish, with its only saving grace being a powerful performance of Memory by American Idol alumni, Jennifer Hudson.

The much-discussed special effects which allowed an incredibly talented cast (which we will come onto later) to leave the traditional costumes of Cats on the stage are an unnerving mix of human and feline which are simply not up to par. While it’s true that they’ve been improved upon since the film’s first trailers, they are still laughably bad.

During numerous dance sequences, the camera editing is choppy, probably down to the fact that studio executives knew that audiences simply wouldn’t fall for this claptrap; I mean, there are times when the actor’s faces and bodies don’t marry up properly for goodness sake. It’s a crying shame as these talented performers never really get a chance to shine, and these special effects, if we can call them that, are sure to haunt youngsters for generations to come.

It’s clear that director Tom Hooper has tried to make Cats look as much like it’s set on a stage as possible, but the abundance of intrusive green screen and some bizarre scaling choices mean that everything looks cheap, like a high school production.

Assembling a cast that includes Dame Judi Dench (Old Deuteronomy), Idris Elba, Sir Ian McKellen (Gus) and Ray Winstone among others is no easy feat, so one can only assume they have been paid rather handsomely, and these veterans of the acting game perform as well as they can in the circumstances.

And then you move onto the other half of the talent on offer. Jason Derulo, James Corden, Rebel Wilson and Taylor Swift are all dreadful. From singing out of tune (we’ll leave you to find out just who that is) to not being able to understand the words coming out of a performers mouth (looking at you here, Jason), these famous faces should know much better.

Thankfully, newcomer, and trained ballerina Francesca Hayward is reasonably engaging as Victoria, and Jennifer Hudson’s aforementioned performance of Memory is absolutely astonishing, but the atrocious special effects pull you right out of the illusion from beginning to end.

An animated film adaptation of Cats had been planned as far back as the 90s, so it amazes me that studio executives over at Universal and Amblin (the two studios that brought us Jurassic Park and E.T. among others) greenlit a live-action adaptation when the technology clearly wasn’t ready.

In conclusion then, Cats must be one of the worst films of the decade, never mind just of 2019, which has already graced us with some truly dreadful assaults on the senses. With some truly bizarre editing and grotesque design choices, it’s a cat-astrophic misfire that will litter the resumes of everyone involved for years to come.

What’s even more frustrating is that this will be the last film many individuals will see as 2019 rounds to a close.

Our score: ★

Cats is showing now at Odeon Luxe Cinema, Hull

Check Cinema Times


Hull Maritime Museum to close as £11m major refurb begins


(Source: HullCCNews)

Hull’s much-loved Maritime Museum will close its doors on Sunday 19 January for the start of an £11m major refurbishment.

It signals the start of work on Hull’s huge maritime project as works to the museum’s main entrance get under way.

A new ramp at the front entrance will improve access for disabled visitors and people with pushchairs, who until now had to access the museum through an emergency exit at the rear of the museum.

Before work can begin, more than 50,000 objects have to be checked, documented, conserved and safely packed before going into a secure storage facilities, which will take teams just over a year before the refurb begins in March 2021.

Building work will take about 19 months before new exhibitions are installed and the collections returned to their new home. It is hoped the museum will re-open in late 2023.

During the closure, a range of maritime-themed activities will take place and several joint-projects with community groups are being developed.

How the new ramp at the Hull Maritime Museum will look.

How the new ramp at the Hull Maritime Museum will look.

Four touring exhibitions will launch in the city centre, before travelling to venues around Hull and the wider region, while theatre performances and artworks will be created and a series of special pop-up events, some inside the museum, will take place.

Once the 50,000 objects in the collection have been removed, visitors will have the rare chance to visit the empty maritime building before works start. The public can also vote for their favourite objects to go display in the museum when it re-opens.

Hull City Council deputy leader Daren Hale said: “This is the start of a new and exciting journey for the museum and the city’s strong maritime story.

“The festive period is a great opportunity to explore the much-loved collections and objects within Hull Maritime Museum for one last time ahead of the major improvements.”

“When the museum reopens in 2023, the city will have world-class displays that will match our internationally renowned collection. The new facilities will allow everyone to access the lives and stories of the people and places that made maritime Hull what it is today.”

The £27.4m Hull: Yorkshire’s Maritime City project is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Hull City Council. It will transform the city’s Arctic Corsair, North End Shipyard, Spurn Lightship, Dock Office Chambers and the Hull Maritime Museum.

Find more information on the project here.


Top 12 Events to See at Hull Truck Theatre in 2020


Hull Truck Theatre have announced some incredible events to dazzle you! So take a
seat, get a coffee and take your picks on which of these you want to see; get ready to
book tickets before it’s too late…

Jane Eyre

Blackeyed Theatre’s brand new stage adaptation of the English fiction classic ‘Jane Eyre’
tells the story of an orphan girl, raised in a world full of loneliness and cruelty, fulfilling
her journey to an unlikely relationship with Mr Rochester and a life at Thornfield Hall,
where a terrible secret forces her to make a heart-wrenching choice as she gradually
uncovers a hidden past to the gloomy Thornfield Hall.

More information & tickets >

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical

I certainly find the sound of this intriguing; a comedy musical created from scratch at
each performance, what’s not to love? From the West End and now heading to Hull
Truck Theatre, this award-winning show allows audiences to make suggestions which
are transformed into shows packed with singing, dancing, drama, catchy melodies and
comedy gold and it is all made up on the spot!

More information & tickets >

Hansel & Gretel

This Brothers Grimm fairytale, following a young brother and sister intrigued by a
house made of sweets and treats being kidnapped by a cannibalistic witch, is being
retold at Hull Truck Theatre by a flustered storyteller joined by a mischievous mocking
bird. This imaginative version is produced by the characters telling their own peculiar
versions, with live music and a mesmerising design ensuring a hilarious performance.

More information & tickets >

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Who doesn’t love a Shakespearean masterpiece packed with romantic comedy, magic
and mayhem? Four young lovers are tangled in unrequited love, taking to the woods to
be true to their hearts, where they come across the fairies; the King and Queen’s
argument filling the forest with mischief. Meanwhile, Bottom the Weaver and his
comedy crew of Mechanicals head into the woods to rehearse a play, where they are
caught up in the fairy Puck’s mischievous matchmaking tricks.

More information & tickets >

Peter Pan

Let original music, dancing, flying, and the magic of your imagination take you on the
journey of Peter Pan, tending to that inner-child in your heart. To Neverland to play,
make beautiful family memories watching a thoroughly loved Disney classic that warms
our hearts and tugs on your heart strings. One night, bedtime stories come alive for the
Darling children when Peter Pan and Tinker Bell guide them through the stars to a land
of Lost Boys, Pirates and Mermaids.

More information & tickets >

Kiri Pritchard-McLean: Empathy Pains

Award-winning comedian, Kiri Pritchard-McLean is back with a full-length show circling
the topic of empathy, which she thinks is seen as a weakness so she is off on a search to
find a group of people who she struggles to empathise with: non-offending paedophiles.
Hopefully Kiri is able to make such a horrific topic hilarious; seemingly impossible.

More information & tickets >


Let original music and puppetry take you on the journey of a tale you thought you knew:
underneath the moon and a snowy mountain, amongst a flock of woolly sheep, Jack is
bored. Knowing that a whisper of a wolf will cause panic and chaos in the village below,
Jack cries Wolf.

More information & tickets >

Hull Truck Theatre’s Comedy Graduates

After a six-week comedy course with Hull-born stand-up comedian Kevin Precious, who
has performed full sets for the last ten years at many of the top clubs in the UK and one-
man shows at a variety of UK’s festivals, his graduates perform their very own first 5-
minute sets.

More information & tickets >

Madame Ovary

In January 2018, Rosa Hesmondhalgh is writing her resolutions: delete all dating apps
and stop going out with plonkers, start doing yoga and some really good art. But
suddenly, she is faced with hospitals and chemotherapy after being diagnosed with
ovarian cancer that has spread. Her new goal for the year: survive.

More information & tickets >

Sound of Springsteen

With songs like ‘Born in the USA’, ‘Glory Days’, ‘Streets of Philadelphia’ etc., the eight
piece tribute bring their live performance and recording to rock you with Bruce
Springsteen’s greatest hits.

More information & tickets >

Grimethorpe Colliery Band

Performing at Hull Truck Theatre, this British institution formed in 1917 during the
First World War, include 16 Brass in Concert Championship titles, 11 times Yorkshire
Regional Champions, 2 English National Championship victories, 4 times British Open
Champions and 4 times National Champion Brass Band of Great Britain. Who would
want to pass up the opportunity to see them perform?

More information & tickets >

Jessica Fostekew: Hench

Feminist and regular host of ‘The Guilty Feminist’, Jessica Fostekew hilariously tries to
take the term ‘hench’ as a compliment, this show being nominated for Best Show at the
Leicester Comedy Festival.

More information & tickets >



Why Aladdin Is the Perfect Panto for the Whole Family

Aladdin has finally arrived at Hull New Theatre and if you are looking for a traditional panto this season, I can guarantee that you will have a great time watching this one.
I was never much of a panto fan when I was young but at Hull New Theatre the other night I found myself cheering and booing like a veteran.
As you walk into the auditorium you are immediately faced with a beautiful and sparkly Aladdin curtain. This made me feel festive and I could sense an excited buzz around the audience of children of all ages, parents and grandparents.
The story of Arabian Nights unfolded. Aladdin is in love with Princess Jasmine and despite being poor wants to marry her. Alas poor Princess Jasmine must marry a prince according to her father Emperor Ming played by Keith Higham.
Every time Ming was mentioned I kept picturing Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon but luckily this Emperor Ming was not merciless. By chance Ming falls in love with Aladdin’s mother, Widow Twankey. Darren Machin (who was magnificently over the top) clearly loved this role. Twankey’s outrageous costumes became more gaudy as the evening passed but were perfect pantomime dame.
In his pursuit to control the universe, Abanazer seeks the magic lamp hidden in a cave in China. Robin Asquith played the baddie brilliantly; The audience hissed and booed every time he came on.
Abanazer learns Aladdin is the only one who can enter the cave and retrieve the lamp, so promises Aladdin great wealth if he will do this task. That means he could marry the Princess!
I was most looking forward to seeing Jake Canuso (of Benidorm fame) and he didn’t disappoint. Jake was the Spirit of the Dance and throughout the evening sashayed his way around the stage and cracked lots of Benidorm jokes.
As a Blue fan in her teens, my daughter was excited to see Simon Webbe as Aladdin. I can’t say I listened to much Blue when they were around, but I did recognise some songs. He played our hero Aladdin with sensitivity and has a lovely voice.
However, the character which stole the show for me was Aladdin’s brother, Wishee Washee (Neil Hurst). His comedy timing was sharp, he interacted with the audience brilliantly, and was a strong character helping to weave the story. Wishee Washee was excellent with the four local children brought on stage to help sing a ditty which kept coming out as farts. This had the audience in stitches! His tongue twister scene with Aladdin and Widow Twankee has to be seen. How he keeps a straight face and doesn’t stutter is awe inspiring.
This is a spectacular panto. It has jokes for all ages, with innuendos going completely over the kid’s heads. Bright costumes, cheery songs. A hero, a Villain, a love story, fantastic scenery and a lovely ensemble of junior dancers from LWHS school in Hedon. You will leave the show smiling, singing ’fart’ songs and feeling lifted.
I had taken two young friends with me and they had a blast. They especially loved when Aladdin’s magic carpet came out above the front rows of the stalls. It was truly magical.
Don’t miss this panto. It’s converted me and I think I shall be a regular attendee in the coming years.

Mrs Brown’s Boys Coming to Hull in 2020

25.09.15 Mrs Brown's Boys, Christmas ep 2015 pt 1 RX BBC Scotland BOC Productions Ltd Unit 25, Millenium Business Park, Ballycoolin, Dublin 15 This Caption and credit details must remain attached to file at all times credit Graeme Hunter Pictures, " Sunnybank Cottages " 117 Waterside Rd, Carmunnock, Glasgow. U.K. G76 9DU. Tel.01416444564 m.07811946280 fax.01416444937 email - "graemehunter@mac.com"

The award-winning Mrs Brown’s Boys is to visit Hull next year.

Mrs Brown D’Live Show…Encore Tour is coming to the Bonus Arena for two shows on 29
and 30 June 2020.

Tickets for both all-seated shows go on sale on Wednesday at 10am.​

Mrs. Brown’s Boys promises to take audiences on an exhilarating and side-splitting adventure.

Brendan O’Carroll said: “It’s the funniest thing I’ve ever written. Even I laugh and I know
what’s coming next!”

Mrs. Brown’s Boys success has been nothing short of incredible. Voted the No. 1 Sitcom of the 21 st Century, awards include 5 BAFTAs, 4 National Television Awards, 3 TV Choice Awards, 4 IFTA awards, 3 TV Times Awards as well as RTS, TRIC and National Comedy Awards.

It is a ratings smash across the globe. Mrs. Brown’s Boys live show has broken box office records across the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. 2014, 2016 and 2018 saw Mrs. Brown’s Boys tour Australia and New Zealand selling out multiple arenas and BBC ONE series All Round to Mrs. Brown’s continues to achieve record breaking viewing figures – previous episodes are available now on BBC iPlayer. Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas Day and New Year’s Day TV specials also return this year to BBC ONE.

Tickets for the June shows in Hull go on sale on Wednesday at 10am from http://www.bonusarenahull.com

Alternatively call 0844 8440444. Calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.


4 Free Christmas Markets this Weekend


Source: HullCCNews

Advent calendars have been broken into (and perhaps entirely scoffed in some households…) yet many in Hull will again have left their Christmas shopping until just weeks before Christmas. Put it off no longer! Head out this weekend with pockets filled with gold and snap up fantastic festive gifts from some cracking Christmas markets and fairs taking place in Hull.

And as a bonus, with Christmas being the season of giving, we have added the chance to raise money for the charity of your choice by sponsoring someone as they run around a park in a big red suit.

Here are 5 free Christmas markets in the Hull area this weekend…

1. Victorian Christmas market

Trinity Square and Hull Minster
Saturday 11am-4pm

Crafts, entertainment, free children’s rides as well as Victorian characters and a range of stalls. Traditional horse carriage rides will take place and at 10.30am, a coach and horses will parade along Trinity House Lane and turn at Beverley Gate carrying the Lord Mayor to officially open the event.

Read more here.

2. Hull College Christmas fair

Hull College
Saturday 10am-4pm

The college in Wilberforce Drive will become a Christmas wonderland as Hull business set up stalls selling gifts and treats in time for a spot of Christmas shopping. Santa will be in his grotto and his reindeer will also pay a visit to the family-friendly event.

College tutors will be on hand to speak to potential students and answer questions on courses. Register your attendance here.

Related: More Christmas events happening in Hull & East Yorkshire

3. Good Things Market

66 Humber Street
Sunday 11am-5pm

A chance to support the city’s independent traders at this art, craft and design market selling prints, jewellery, homewares and ceramics.

Pick up Christmas gifts, grab a bite to eat and enjoy seasonal music in Hull’s Fruit Market. Learn more here.

4. Hull Vineyard Christmas Market

Hull Vineyard Church
Saturday 10am-4pm

Top up your Christmas shopping and explore unique, bespoke craft stalls at this busy event.

A very busy Santa Claus will also be in his grotto at this church so bring the children and get a photograph with the big red bearded one before tucking in at food stalls. To request a stall, call the Hull Vineyard Church on 01482 343333. Read more here.

5. Beverley Festival of Christmas

Saturday Market
Sunday 10am-4pm

This East Riding town centre will once again be transformed into a Christmas shopper’s wonderland as more than 120 stalls brimming with Christmas gifts and locally made treats take over the historic market town.

The Christmas Parade sets off from Wednesday Market to Saturday Market at 10am. Read more here.

6. Santa Fun Run

Pickering Park
Sunday 11am
£12 for adults, £7/£5 for children

Up to 500 Santas will don trainers to run, walk, hop or crawl backwards around the 3K course for charity at this event organised by The Rotary Clubs of Holderness and Humberside.

Runners don’t need to be members of the club but must let the Rotary Clubs know how much they raised and who will benefit. Find more details here.


Trinity Market named in UK’s top ten


Trinity Market in Hull’s Old Town has been named as one of the UK’s favourite markets.

The indoor market has been voted as one of the country’s top ten markets in a poll by the National Association of British Markets (NABMA).

The finalists will now take part in a judging process before one market will be named the UK’s favourite as part of this year’s Great British Market Awards.

Caffeinated in Trinity Market
Caffeinated in Trinity Market.

The top ten markets are –

Barrow In Furness Indoor Market
Chester Indoor Market
Hull Trinity Indoor Market
Humber Bridge Farmers Market
Lymington Charter Market
Nantwich Indoor & Outdoor Market
Newcastle Grainger Indoor Market
Shrewsbury Indoor Market
South Molton Country Pannier Market
Swansea Indoor Market

Find out more about NABMA or the Great British Market Awards here.