Not since the destruction of the Batman franchise has a film managed to destroy the original concepts it was based on like Catwoman. Gone are the character, attitude and visual style of both the catwoman from Batman Returns and the comics and in its place is a lame MTV generation, CGI enhanced Catwoman who looks and acts more like a hooker than a superhero.
Patience Philips (Halle Berry) is a designer for a cosmetics agency who spends her time alone in her cubicle with no real life inside or outside of work. The company is run by Laurel and George Hedare (Sharon Stone and Lambert Wilson respectively) who it transpires are introducing a new beauty product that gives women eternal youth, until they stop using it that is. Then the minor side effects take hold which creates burn marks all over the skin. Luckily the addictive additive in the cream makes sure that the users never stop using the cosmetics. This sordid little secret is discovered by Patience, who is in turn discovered by the Hedare’s henchmen who manage to kill her by blasting her out off a waste pipe into the river.
Lying dead, Patience is discovered by Midnight (a god-awful CGI cat – why no use a real cat for starters?) who manages to breathe life back into the dead woman thus reviving her as Catwoman. Once back in the land of the living, Patience lives out a dual role – Patience by day and Catwoman by night.
During her night time escapades Catwoman manages to ‘acquire’ some jewellery from a store which attracts the attention of detective Tom Lone (Benjamin Bratt). Soon Patience is dating Tom during the day and he is pursuing Catwoman at night. Added to her dual life style she also has to deal with the extra inconvenience of being hunted by Laurel Hedare after she frames Catwoman for the murder of her husband and to ensure that her cosmetics secret is never discovered.
Catwoman was in trouble from the offset as the director Pitof blurted out during an interview that he didn’t want to be influenced by the comic book – an interesting statement for a film that is supposed to be based on comic books in the first place. The whole film is like a giant ball of hair vomited from the bowels of Hollywood with ridiculous sub-plots, incredibly bad acting and some of the worst special effects seen in a long time.
The worst of the subplots is the relationship between Bratt’s detective and Halle Berry’s two characters. Their romance is remarkable for its total lack of chemistry, energy and passion. This is indicative of the whole film with not even the slightest aspect of chemistry between any of the characters.
The acting so one-dimensional that it’s shocking for allegedly good actors – didn’t Sharon Stone and Halle Berry win Oscars at some point in their careers? You couldn’t tell watching this tripe. Halle Berry spends her time strutting in clothes that would suit only a cheap hooker and shows that the film is aimed at two key demographics – women who foolishly believe that this is some sort of independent strong female character and guys who are willing to sit through a truly awful film for an impressive cleavage – which is most of us. Catwoman spends a lot of time on all fours for the sole purpose of giving the men in the audience some great, but totally gratuitous shots of her 'bubblies'. Intellectual this film is not.
The special effects are just plain dire for what is supposed to be a big budget film. They look just like a poor computer game with a badly rendered Berry running, flipping and cracking a CGI whip while fast camera cuts are used to try to hide the cracks. Did she even bother to turn up on the set half of the time? At least Michelle Pfeiffer managed to learn how to crack a whip properly.
Also does no one realise that Patience is Catwoman? How much more obvious does it have to be? She gobbles down tuna and sushi, she rescues a kid on a Ferris wheels in a feline manner in front of hundreds of people, her pupils are now vertical instead of round, she sleeps on a shelf and she purrs and demands attention like a cat. Thankfully there are no scenes of her using a litter tray or licking herself clean (although that might have made the film better).
This is a travesty against the comic books and the memory of Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman. Berry was the wrong choice to play the character – even as Catwoman she, surprisingly, doesn’t have the sexiness or danger to give the character the justice it deserves. In the end this film has probably tarnished more than the lusted screen character of Catwoman as it probably has tarnished Berry’s and Stones careers at the same time. Best left in the bottom of the litter tray.
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