Thanks! Be safe everyone =)
Snippets of comments might not give the full picture. These tweets have been doing the news rounds for some time since the Austin event. Look a bit further and you'll find an audio of what Benioff and Weiss actually said: https://watchersonthewall.com/benioff-weiss-reflect-decade-game-thrones-...
The overwhelming visceral reaction to the trailer demonstrates that there is something unarguably off-putting in the visual execution of these characters. While it might be technically impressive re: digital furscaping, the designers don't seem to have blended the anthropomorphic aspects cohesively.
The stage musical - a product of the 80s' neon colours, lycra and big hair - looks like a fun blend of anime and Cirque de Soleil. We are definitely looking at humans, costumed and made up in such a way as to beam fantastical fun in which we can suspend our disbelief. Most notable in the actors' transformations is the heavily contoured face makeup - removing the aspect of 'human' enough for us to go along on this whimsical ride, but never limiting expressiveness. I don't think we're ever meant to think, "Yes, this is all about cats." It's a character journey in a bizarre setting ... that just happens to have ears and waist-hung tails.
Later iterations of the stage show have used embellished clothing to represent individual character qualities. But not trying to emulate fur or broadcast, "We're actual cats."
The marketing for this film has gone hard on "you will believe they are cats", while keeping everything under wraps. Yet the designs in the trailer emphasize the human facial features.
Facial expression is the strongest connecting point in character storytelling, regardless of species - it's all about the execution. But by keeping the face relatively unaltered, the designers seem to have missed the point of their own approach (something Disney took to the other extreme with their recent The Lion King, since the realistic looking lion have drastically limited expressiveness). The 'cat' faces here look bland compared to all other aspects in this world. Human faces with whiskers are as off-putting as the first time you ever saw a Sphinx Cat (genetically mutated hairless cat). There's just something not right about it.
Next - the Cats trailer fur technology just isn't furry enough. While aiming for a kind of reality (cat-ratio furniture and sets), the designers seem to have missed that real cats have thick, luxurious pelts which DISGUISE their body shapes. So, this trailer verges on nudity.
We're shown clearly human faces, on clearly human yet lightly fur-covered bodies - but they have ears that flicker and well-muscled tails that flex (especially at the base of the spine - we all know what hides beneath is the funniest part of cat anatomy - another layer of discomfort in this trailer, since my mind 'filled in the gaps' of what we were seeing).
And then there are varying degrees of clothing apparel on some, while others remain completely 'naked'.
The opening shot shows human shapes on 'all fours', and then most of the rest of the movement is two-legged. Another seeming incongruity.
Perhaps it's these incongruities in all their cat vs. human detail that provoke such an averse responses.
Beyond all the designs, the main character seems to be a wide-eyed ingenue flitting about while others do their thing. Great choreography, singing and cinematography, for sure. But, it looks extremely trope-ridden. And, as many have observed, there doesn't seem to be a story.
The Fall - yessssss!
Great points, Dana! I totally agree on the importance of diverse cultures and approaches to storytelling.
This debate is bringing some interesting perspectives and suggestions. The emphasis seems to have shifted away from the original premise of Oscar eligibility denied to Netflix products, and more to the economics and opportunities that have changed because of streaming. The short approach: the Academy gets to decide the rules for their "club". The problem: their club influence has a major impact on so many people excluded from that club.
The general discussion, then, has to consider all streamers, not just Netflix. From there, one also has to wind back and see how YouTube probably got this whole snowball rolling way back when - giving individuals a money-making platform outside the establishment system. Yes, sure, it also opened the flood gates for piracy, but that's a different debate. The opportunities for independents have expanded, and the traditional system is late to the game and now grapples to control something (which is really not theirs to control) with their out-of-date rules and perceived supremacy.
The tip of this iceberg first popped up in the 2018 Cannes/Netflix controversy. Netflix evolved.
What no-one seems to express is the value decline of the Oscars. Awards and accolades are important, for sure. And having an "oscar winner" subtitle still seems holds weight - within the system. But the Hollywood system needs to evolve, and the Academy needs to address the biased, irresponsible approach to voting that's been revealed in places like The Hollywood Reporter interviews with anonymous voters. The insincerity is gobsmackingly unprofessional and makes me question the validity of those members, the process and the institution. The Academy has had a horrendous couple of years: backpeddling their announcements on awards and categories, their hostless presentation or hosts that don't understood what the event itself is about, the "invasion" of politics. After this year's ceremony and this ensuing debate, I'm taking a major step back in my reverence of the Academy as a pinnacle institution.
It is possible to evolve within the mainstream. BAFTA was "the poor cousin" to the Academy on the world stage, but after a makeover that re-positioned their award show earlier in the season, and adding a platform for the gaming industry, they demonstrate that they are acknowledging a broad spectrum of storytelling.
This Gordian Knot of intertwined economics/opportunity with art/storytelling is not new, but there is a plethora of new ways for artists to get eyeballs on their work. Flexibility is essential in creativity, and that includes the structures that support it towards thriving. And this is the major sticking point in this debate: system exclusivity and limitations vs. artist opportunity and audience connection.
Congrats on your second feature, Dana. I hope it finds an audience \o/
Dang, that looks priddy! I bin sittin' and grinnin' for the whole 2 minutes 'n' 4 seconds of trailer. An' all them ol' familya faces. Mm-mmm. I'ma get me a ticket faw shaw!!