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Movie Review: Cats (2019)

In July 2019, I waited to hear about the new, big budget film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, Cats. My friends and I are fans of musicals, so Cats was a film we wanted to see. Even though we wanted to see it, we felt worried because of the cast. There are many actors and actresses that are very good actors, but we didn’t know how the lineup will work in the movie. Still, we were hopeful… until we saw the trailer and the horrible animation.

When the movie was in theaters, I didn’t get to see it because I was busy and because I was so upset about the trailer I didn’t care much to pay money to see it in the movie theater. My friends ended up talking me into seeing it but before we made it to a theater, it wasn’t there anymore due to bad reviews and very bad animation.

Almost two years after it was in the movie theater, I decided to sit down and write a review about it. It was branded to be a Christmas movie before it came out, so I wanted to save my review for Blogmas, yet I didn’t enjoy the movie so I decided to post the review whenever I got around to watch it.

The movie and the stage musical is based off T.S. Elliot’s 1939 book, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. The stage musical premiered in London in 1981 and 1982 on Broadway, won seven Tony Awards including Best Musical 1983, a Grammy for Best Cast Album, and was the longest running show in Broadway’s history until The Phantom of the Opera overtook it.

According to many sources on the internet (Including Wikipedia), the movie is about a group of cats that gather every year to decided which cat should ascend to the Heavenside Layer and come back to live a new life. This description of the plot is true, but the movie mostly focuses on Victoria, a cat that existed in the stage version of the musical. In the movie, Victoria is a cat that was throw out on the streets by her owner. After her arrival on the streets, she encounters a group of cats who live on the streets. Some of these cats befriend her and, as she gets to know them, tell her this is the day they will decide which cat should ascend to the Heavenside Layer and comes back to live a new life. Along the way, she and her new friends meets cats that would like to be picked to go to Heavenside Layer including Macavity, a cat that would do anything to be picked to go to the Heavenside Layer. in order to avoid punishment for his crimes.

I like the stage musical of Cats, but the major problem with the musical is the plot. Even though I can explain it in words, it’s not very clear when someone is watching the musical. This is something that I hoped would be fixed in the movie version. The movie does a better job explaining the plot, but it still isn’t very clear and is pretty confusing. I wonder if the scrip writers (Who received a lot of criticism for the plot) tried to make the plot have a similar storytelling style as the musical. The problem is the musical also features a lot of dancing and the only talking is actually sung. Because of this, the stage version is very similar to a ballet such as The Nutcracker or Sleeping Beauty… only with singing. As for the movie, there is a script and many lines are spoken. I though this would’ve helped explain the plot to anyone unfamiliar with the musical, but it does not. Instead, in some scenes, it makes it even harder to understand.

As for the animation, which is very well known for how bad it is, it really is as bad as people complain it to be. It could be worse (Yes, I’ve watched finished animate films with worse animation that Cats) but it was still so poor I’m shocked the movie’s release wasn’t delayed in order to make it look better. The version I watched is on DVD and to be honest, the animation is still bad. There are animation errors all over the movie and poor attention to detail. In one scene, Victoria is dancing with one of the street cats (I believe this was the movie’s version of the Victoria’s pas de deux from the stage musical). The actress who played Victoria, Francesca Hayward, performed the dance with point shoes on. In the scene in the movie, the scenes would switch between showing feet, which is what Victoria’s animation is supposed to look like, and point shoes, which should’ve been edited out of the scene. In one point, there is a point shoe on one foot and an actual foot on the other.

Another point of complaint towards the movie was the actor’s acting. I can understand the complaints about this, but I think the acting done in the movie is none of the actor’s best work. I can understand why many critics liked Taylor Swift’s portrayal of Bombalurina, a queen cat that, in the movie, is in an alliance with Macavity. She did a much better job acting as her character in comparison to all the actors in the movie. Even though I’m glad she did a good job playing her character, I don’t understand why the other actors and actresses in the movie didn’t do a good job. There are many actors and actresses who have more experience acting than Taylor does, so it’s strange that everyone else in the movie didn’t do as well as Taylor.

To put it bluntly, the movie stinks. It’s not a great movie or interpretation of the stage musical or the original T.S. Elliot books. I can see potential in the movie and I think it could’ve been a better, higher quality movie. Unfortunately, the attention to detail is so bad I don’t think anyone should watch it unless they are genuinely curious about the movie, want to listen to the soundtrack (Which is beautiful), want to see why people praise Taylor Swift’s acting in the movie, or use it as an example of the problems that come from a lack of attention to details (Such as animation, script, or capturing the actor’s performances) in a movie.

Well, that’s all for now! Thank you for reading!

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