Cats the movie features prestigious performers from stage, screen, music and dance – including Jennifer Hudson, Sir Ian McKellan, Dame Judi Dench, Idris Elba, Rebel Wilson, James Corden and ballerina Francesca Hayward. Picture: Reuters

Since the internet first laid eyes on the “Cats” trailer over the summer, the live-action (esque) adaptation of the blockbuster musical has been the subject of both delighted mocking and frenzied bewilderment.

Why do the cats have human lips, noses, hands and breasts, confused viewers wondered. How come the Taylor Swift cat is dressed in a necklace, high heels and nothing else? What, exactly, is the scale here? What kind of fur coats are the ones worn by some of the cats? Are they… cat fur? How did so many big-name celebrities agree to be part of this? Did anyone ask for this movie to be made? No, really: who thought this $95-million spectacle was a good idea?

Five months after the two-minute preview exploded into public consciousness, the movie made its debut in theatres. Alas, it seems the finished product answered precious few of the questions the trailer raised. It did, however, inspire a wave of absolutely scathing, especially creative reviews from critics, who were apparently as perplexed by the film as everyone else was by the trailer. And had just as much of a field day with it.

“To call Cats a cinematic experience unlike any other does not do justice to precisely how mind-meltingly bizarre Cats is,” wrote Mashable’s Angie Han. “To say it must be seen to be believed is to undersell just how hard it is to believe it even once you’ve seen it. Cats is a movie to make you feel sky-high even when you’re stone-cold sober, to push an otherwise even-keeled mind into Joker-like peals of hysterical random laughter.”