CATS: A Fur-tastic watch!

by Matthew Escosia
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By: Godfreyna Canja

 

Cats, one of the longest running Broadway shows in history is no doubt well loved by all Broadway musical fans out there. It was not surprising that there were mixed feelings when the Cats movie adaptation was announced,. The film stars Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Jason Derulo, James Corden, Jennifer Hudson, Rebel Wilson, Taylor Swift and the lovely Francesca Hayward. Here, we talk about the “High Five” of the film and how it’s worth the watch despite the misgivings it received.

Music

Being a musical, Cats truly reels you in with the music as it propels the story forward, from the get-go, the Jellicle song will have you singing along with actors in the film. The music provides dynamic transitions for the story, like in James Corden and Rebel Wilson’s comedic numbers, “The Old Gumbie Cat” and “Bustopher Jones: The Cat about Town”, were also a treat to the audience— if not relatable! A nice break from all the mystery surrounding the whole affair of the Jellicle ball. “Mr. Mistoffolees” is also a great song that shows the development of Mr. Mistoffolees’ character and is so catchy it will leave you humming its melody for days! Of course, we can’t forget about “Memory” from the original Cats musical, Jennifer Hudson’s performance as Grizabella singing the iconic song was also on point, effectively showing Grizabella’s pain and brokenness in her delivery of the song.  Other songs that stood out were “Beautiful Ghosts” and “Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer”.

Characters

In the original stage play, Victoria, played by Francesca Hayward doesn’t exist, but I believe her character was an addition that truly made the film effective. It was fun to learn about the Jellicle cats and the Jellicle ball along with her, her keenness and curiosity of the Jellicle tribe is infectious and the film made it feel like she was guiding us in the story. Hayward’s performance was simply magnificent and was truly a huge impact to this new rendition of Cats. Mr. Mistoffelees’ character played by Laurie Davidson was the clumsy magician cat who’s a little shy. In the original musical, Mr. Mistoffelees only appeared towards the end of the show but in the film, he has a bigger role and has more scenes with Victoria. This made his number more heartwarming as we could see the character’s growth from the shy and clumsy cat that he is to a more confident Mr. Mistoffelees! Another character who really stood out for me was Bombalurina. Taylor Swift’s scene was a short-lived one however she made sure that her performance will be remembered— and she succeeded. Bombalurina’s sassy and grand portrayal of Macavity’s partner in crime is a true highlight of the film.

Choreography

It’s amazing how one could tell a story through dancing and movements, and the choreography in the film did not disappoint with their rendition. What truly struck me as beautiful was the ballet in the film, especially Francesca Hayward’s, it was so entrancing and magical. The way that the production used ballet to mimic a cat’s nimble movements was brilliant. The film also showcased hip hop, contemporary dances and even tap dance which really makes the film dynamic and does not leave you bored.

Storytelling

The film had me feeling like I was being given a peek through the secret life of cats and this whole other mysterious world. It combines the beauty of live performances and the technology in visual effects of the film. Granted that many felt unsettled and creeped out by how the actors looked with the CGI, the way they designed the cats made sense in the film so that the actors’ movements were not hindered. The execution of the story through the different song and dance numbers have made the movie a whole new experience even for those who have watched the original musical.

Beautiful Ghosts

Taylor Swift in collaboration with Anthony Lloyd Webber’s original music addition in the films deserves attention, and not because I’m a Swiftie  (–partly because I’m a Swiftie), the way it was sang as a reply to “Memory”  truly set the film apart from the theatre versions of Cats. It’s a beautiful song that comes close to the iconic “Memory” and captures Victoria’s journey beginning from when she was abandoned up until she finds herself amongst the Jellicle cats where she found acceptance, new friendships and strength. It’s a song that delicately reached out to Grizabella and a song that made her feel Victoria’s kindness that finally gives her courage to sing as a contender for the Jellicle choice. It’s a beautiful song with a powerful meaning, that is uniquely showcased in the film.

Though the film is not without flaws, like the scene where the cats were picking off and eating the cockroaches in the middle of their song and dance, the bad CGI’d champagne pouring onto Bustopher Jones’ mouth and many other flaws, Cats did justice to the original musical and is worthy of praise.

Cats receive 3 ½ waves out of 5 for me, it’s enjoyable and fun to watch and it leaves you smiling at  the end of the film thinking about your pet cats’ secret lives.

 

 

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