Plot: What’s it about?
Cats was the longest running stage production of all time, thanks to some fantastic performers and incredible musical aspects. It is true that the idea of a bunch of singing cats doesn’t seem like much, but with the great writing, production values, and performances, Cats never fails to entertain. The rigors of performing the show caused even the most talented workers to leave after short times on the production, but there was always a new influx of talent to take over the roles. This disc features a blockbuster performance of the show, loaded with a dream cast of workers and some fantastic production design elements. I think this edition manages to conjure up all the magic and spectacle of the real deal, which should please fans of the show and first timers alike. This is one disc I know my collection wouldn’t be complete without, I am sure many of you feel the same way.
Cats broke all sorts of records and won a massive fanbase over the years, so it was only a matter of time before it saw a DVD release. Universal first issued Cats a while back in two different versions, but now they’ve slapped a new banner on it and sent it back out again. Some new features, but the audio/video treatment, which is a let down. In other words, if you have either of the previous discs, then it might not be worth the upgrade, unless you must have the extras. But if you don’t own the disc, then you might as well pick up this one, as this is the best edition to date. This is a filmed version of the stage production and while I don’t always like that, this one is a tremendous effort and really captures the magic of the show. The cast is loaded with hand selected performers, who are considered to be the finest to play the roles, so this is as good as Cats gets. I like the dream cast approach, as this disc will serve as a sort of time capsule for the production and it will be remembered under the best circumstances. This is a terrific presentation of a classic stage production, so I give it a high recommendation to all those interested, although Universal should have included a new anamorphic widescreen transfer.
Video: How does it look?
Cats is presented in a 1.78:1 widescreen transfer, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. The lack of added resolution causes some edge enhancement, but nothing too extreme in the end. The colors seem bold and sharp, with no signs of smears or smudges. Even the complex makeup on some of the characters looks rich and detailed, which was a real surprise. The contrast is stark, but allows for a high level of detail and black levels are well balanced at all times. I do wish this was anamorphic, but even as it stands, this transfer looks pretty good. This is the same transfer as before, which is a real shame, without a doubt.
Audio: How does it sound?
The disc offers a Dolby Digital 5.1 option, which provides an immersive and effective experience. The surrounds kick up a lot, but never to the extent of forcing things, which means the whole deal seems natural. A musical is going to test your system of course, but it shouldn’t push too much in the end. The music and vocals seem very well balanced and distinct, while the surrounds make sure it all usurps the viewer into the production. The subtitles were dropped from this version too, which is bad news…
Supplements: What are the extras?
This where the new two disc Ultimate Edition shines, but even so, I expected more from an Ultimate Edition. The same 30 minute featurette titled The Making of Cats appears here, but more extras have also been piled on, to sweeten the pot. You’ll find a brief makeup featurette and an Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection trailer, but the real bonus comes up next. About two hours of interviews have been placed on the second disc, with a ton of information & insight within, from various cast & crew members. If you have questions about any part of the musical, it’s a safe bet to assume they’re answered somewhere in these interviews.