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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Cats - Ultimate Edition
Cats - Ultimate Edition
Universal // Unrated // October 30, 2001
List Price: $26.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Phillip Duncan | posted December 13, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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Andrew Lloyd Weber's CATS is the longest running musical in Broadway history. In 1997, it was decided the time had come to transfer the musical to film and the original British cast was reassembled. The orchestra was increased in size and the dialog and music were re-recorded for what would be the ultimate home edition of the Broadway musical.

That version has now arrived on a 2-Disc DVD set from Universal Studios and it looks truly amazing. Loosely based on T.S. Eliot's book Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, it combines many of the short stories around the framework of a group of cats that live and play together. The different characters come and go to the different musical styles that weave in and out of the musical. Having said that, there's not much left to the plot of the story and that's fine, because the music is what really matters.

The DVD
The Video: Presented in an anamorphic wide screen of 1.78:1 the video is truly stunning. It's most like watching a live-action cartoon, if such an explanation makes sense. The performers theater style make-up really stands out and the extreme lighting, staging and other techniques that accompany a theater performance have been toned down, but still add to the otherworldly quality. There is not a flaw to be seen. The colors are rich and an excellent level of contrast is present throughout.

The Sound: Anyone who has seen the musical live will know that only a small orchestra accompanies the play, but not so on the DVD. As revealed in the documentary, the score has been re-recorded with a full 90+-piece orchestra and it shows. The score is fuller, brighter, and better sounding than before. The 5.0 Dolby Digital Surround doesn't mystify, but it presents the material in the best sounding way possible.

The Extras: Disc 1 contains the musical in its entirety, while disc two is solely populated with extras. The Making of Cats is the most entertain of them all and at around 30 minutes, it's enough information to get you started. The beginning history of the musical is related, accompanied by some hilariously embarrassing footage of Weber and his hair-do at the time. Next come the interviews with the production crew and main actors. These are entertaining, but not as revealing as the documentary. Lastly, and sadly so, is a brief montage of clips that's supposed to pass as a make-up featurette. It merely a collection of time-lapse make-up applications set to music, nothing revealed here. I'll admit I was disappointed, because I feel the make-up is one of the most interesting parts of the story. Last is a trailer for another Lloyd Weber tribute that has been released as well.

Overall: This is a beautiful production of this well loved classic and should be added to the library of any fan, even a casual one like myself. If you've never seen the live show, this up close and personal look really shows off the make-up and other creative techniques that were pioneered and used over 20 years ago when it debuted.
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