It is no secret that the world loves cats, from the ancient empires to the hyperconnected network of the internet. Whether you lead a digitally charged life or seek out a simple existence in the countryside, it can be challenging to ignore their presence. Going strongly to support this, is the musical, Cats, almost becoming an in-joke amongst the theatre-going community. In 2019, the world saw the musical and their feline friends in a whole new way, in the cinematic adaptation of Cats.
After being abandoned, a young kitten, Victoria, is flung into an unknown world. She learns of the Jellicle cats, cats who have had peculiar lives (that they love to communicate by song). Once every year, there is a Jellicle Ball that gives one cat a chance at rebirth, meanwhile mean Macavity has some sinister plans that might usurp the proceedings. Come, as we follow the Jellicle cats on a journey as Victoria, and the audience comes to learn and love the peculiar rituals and traits of the world of cats.
Some may be considering why they would want to seek out this film, especially when they could seek out the production itself. Hooper’s adaptation takes on some keen changes to justify its existence. Vibrant neon lights are ever-present especially in the first half, as we see how the timeless city becomes the Jellicle’s playground. Like an attempt to recreate Arkham City, but I believe it is an attempt to emulate the Gel-lit sets of the theatre experience. While the ‘costumes’ have been digitally enhanced since the first trailer, controversial to say the least, the idea certainly has merit especially when considering ways for the film, it’s a creative choice that attempts to give the best of both worlds. Relying heavily on C.G.I. to create its distinctive blend that was so infamous.
Most of the songs of the musical are here, but the repertoire has been extended with a couple of new compositions, they seemed indistinguishable from the original arrangements. Although Caveat Emptor, having not seen the original productions, although the originals may have been arranged in such a way to blend with the newer tacks. Yet Memories is still there, and you learn the stories of Rum Tum Tigger et al., so unless you are after the purest experience you can get a good show here. Having stars from the acting and music world (and a fair few who have donned both hats) certainly helped bring the play to the silver screen. Francesca Hayward does portray the Protagonist, Victoria, and having a Principal dancer makes sense, as Victoria dances far more than she talks, serving as an audience avatar.
Cats creatively copies its live-action counterpart with a free-flowing camera allowing a lot more freedom, in justifying an almost definitive film encapsulation of the great musical. A celebration of both the animal and the musical that shares its name. Offering a fresher take on the beloved stage productions with some new tunes, and detailed recreations of its famous settings. There are lots of reasons to seek out Cats whether it’s to see the stars you love performing, or to see a bit of Cinematic Magic sprinkled on the legendary musical production, Cats leaves more than just a memory.
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