Pros: choreography of the artists; performance of musical compositions Cons: strange computer graphics; props; storyline – these are songs that introduce the characters of “Cats” in turn
Genre: musical, fantasy
Director Tom Hooper
Cast: Francesca Hayward (Victoria), Judi Dench (Duteronomy), Jennifer Hudson (Grisabella), Idris Elba (Macavity), Ian McKellen (Goose), Taylor Swift (Bombalurina), Rebel Wilson (Miss Jenny), James Corden (Bustopher Jones) ), Robert Fairchild (Munkustrap), Laurie Davidson (Mistoffelees), Jason Derulo (Rum-Tum-Tagger), etc.
Компании Working Title Films, Amblin Entertainment, Perfect World Pictures, Universal Pictures
Year of release 2019
In 1982, the musical Cats by Andrew Lloyd Webber premiered on Broadway. Since then, the production, with actors who sang and danced as cats, has created a great stir for years. Moreover, the success was so great that Universal Pictures bought the rights to film the cat story.
The question of whether a musical with animals should even be adapted into a feature film arose this summer. The first trailer for “Cats” appeared online, which was, to put it mildly, discouraging. Just a few shots of the actors covered in CGI fur sparked a wave of memes and ridicule. But you can’t judge a film by its trailer, and the creators had time to make some changes (as, for example, they did with the graphics in Sonic the Hedgehog).
As it turns out, the problem with the perception of “Cats” lies in the specifics of filming. And it is not so easy to solve. There are no drawn characters in the film: all the cats were played by people who had fur, whiskers, and tails added to their bodies using computer graphics. As a result, the characters in the film turned out to be hybrids of domestic animals and people, moving on two limbs. Moreover, the characters retained a human face shape, which made them frightening in their own way.
The fact that things are going very badly with the film is evidenced by the situation that arose after the official premiere of “Cats.” On the day of the first showings, Universal Studio notified American theaters that they would receive an updated version with adjusted special effects. It’s hard to even imagine what was hastily corrected in the feed, but, alas, it didn’t help her at all.
The plot of the full-length film follows the idea of the theatrical production. The focus is on the cat Victoria, who finds herself in an unfamiliar company of cats. They show her the secrets of the streets, telling her that a great event is about to happen. At night, the oldest and wisest of all cats will determine the chosen one who will be worthy of rebirth. Before this, the four-legged animals will gather for a ball, where they will sing about their lives. Some will selflessly show off their talent, while others will follow an insidious plan.
Apparently, director Tom Hooper (Oscar winner for The King’s Speech) and screenwriter Lee Hall (Rocketman) are very sensitive to the original story. They value the storyline so much that they forget about the main thing. That this is no longer a theatrical production, but an almost two-hour film, which somehow has to keep the audience engaged. And so that the audience does not get bored, it would be nice to dilute cat presentations with dialogues. However, there are very few ordinary lines that do not flow into the song in the film. As well as, by the way, plot twists that promise at least some variety. So it turns out that the movie “Cats” is mostly a series of songs that represent different cats in turn.
True, it’s not easy to get bored while watching. For a while, even the beginning doesn’t matter; all efforts go into getting used to the peculiar graphics. For some reason, the animals were deprived of their paws, leaving the characters with the hands and feet of people. Sometimes humanoid cats from the crowd appear in shoes, while others dance barefoot. The central characters confidently walked around in their clothes, wearing fur coats over cat hair.
Ian McKellen’s character looks the most like a cat. Shaggy fur was added to his cheeks and the back of his head, and this at least somehow brought him closer to the appearance of a cat. Judi Dench was also luckier than others in this regard, if you can call it luck at all. But they decided to make the other actors smooth-haired, which further emphasized their human features.
You can notice the marvelous approach to the production not only in the graphics, but also in the details. Against the background of giant furniture that does not correspond to normal proportions, the cats seem even crazier. On top of that, the heroes don’t really do much. They supposedly bite into food, supposedly fight and supposedly drink champagne. Absolutely everything around looks like a prop, illuminated with neon light.
To be honest, it’s a bit of a shame for the artists performing the dance parts (among them is the Royal Ballet dancer of Great Britain Francesca Hayward, who played the role of Victoria). Their ridiculous appearance distracts from the performance technique, and the vocal parts are also lost in the absurdity of the full-length production. Still, in the theater, neither costumes nor scenery could supplant the skill of the actors.
Of course, the wonderful appearance of cats cannot spoil the compositions of Andrew Lloyd Webber. The main musical theme performed by Jennifer Hudson is recognizable and majestic. But beautiful songs, one after another, cannot maintain interest in such a film. The musical cannot be saved even by the humor of James Corden, portraying a smug cat in a tailcoat.
Sometimes a musical is better left as a musical, especially if it involves cats.