Movie Review: "Catwoman" (2004)

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DISCLAIMER: This review may contain spoilers.

During the final shot of "Batman Returns", we see Catwoman standing up on top of a rooftop, overlooking the Bat signal in the night sky. This was done to pave the way for a spinoff film involving the Catwoman character. That was back in 1992. Over the next ten or so years, the project eventually ended up in the wrong hands and any hope for a legitimate Catwoman spinoff had been shot down.

What we had ended up with instead was a huge flop that didn't really have anything to do with the actual comic book character herself. Why do you think "Catwoman" was released in 2004? To celebrate the 20th anniversary of another failed comic book spinoff film, "Supergirl" (1984). Both have female heros, were poorly-written spinoffs, and flopped. Coincidence?

"Catwoman" is the story of Patience Philips (Halle Berry), she's a cute but clumsy art/grahpics designer for a cosmetics company. They're manufacturing a new skin cream that can reverse anti-aging. However, when she eavesdrops on the bad guys, she soon discovers there's dangerous side-effects, so the bad guys manage to kill her and she's brought back to life by a magical cat as Catwoman.

The bad guys happen to be the CEO of the company, George Hedare (Lambert Wilson), and his wife, Laurel (Sharon Stone), who ends up murdering her husband out of infidelity and takes over.

This film stars Halle Berry as the titular character. Now I have nothing against Halle Berry and I'm confident she could have got the job done, if the right people were sitting behind the camera. Everyone behind the scenes had no business making this movie (or any movie in general).

For starters, they seemed to have hired a NASCAR driver as the film's editor. Almost every shot in "Catwoman" contains ingredients that you would typically find in a can of Red Bull or Monster energy drinks. The film has obviously been edited for people suffering from ADHD and I doubt a version that shows a little more restraint even exists at all.

Furthermore, "Catwoman" is directed by... Pitof. As a director, this movie was his only mainstream project. Other than that, one notable credit that's worth mentioning is that he was the visual effects supervisor for "Alien: Resurrection". Maybe he should have stuck to visual effects instead.

Get Your Facts Straight, Idiots

In this movie, Halle Berry becomes Catwoman after she is brought back to life by a magical Egyptian cat. She then finds out that she has cat-like abilities and senses. What the heck is this? These people obviously didn't research their character very well.

Catwoman is nothing more than jewel thief/burglar with a lot of psychological issues, she does not possess any super powers or superhuman strength. Catwoman is as human as Batman himself.

Shoot the Costume Designer

What were they thinking when they came up with the Catwoman costume for this movie? There's not too many variations for this character's outfit, there's certain guidelines one has to follow in regards to this. First and foremost, Catwoman's outfit must be skintight, the one in this film is not.

Secondly, the outfit is a one-piece suit (not including the ears or the optional mask). In this 2004 film, it's two-piece, top and bottom. To make things worse, the cat ears on Halle Berry look ridiculous, they resemble Mickey Mouse more than an actual cat. Maybe this movie should be retitled as "Mouse Lady" or "Ratwoman".

The outfits worn by Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt, Michelle Pfeiffer, and even Anne Hathaway are closer to the ideal Catwoman costume than the one worn by Halle Berry, which looks like a very lame S&M joke.

Hang the Casting Director

As I briefly mentioned earlier, Halle Berry is a fine actress who is capable of a great performance. The problem in "Catwoman" is that her role was written as one-dimensional. The end result is that you just wasted a talented actress. If they were seeking a one-note performance for the Catwoman role, why not just hire Beyonce Knowles? She has a great body and she's a pro when it comes to one dimensional performances. Then we can be forced to listen to "If I Were a Cat", Beyonce's two cents added into the film's soundtrack.

Spell It Out for Me, Baby!

One thing "Catwoman" likes to do is spell things out for the audience. This film attempts to rub things in the audience's face on several occasions. Let's start with character names, shall we? Catwoman's real name is Patience Philips (um, what was wrong with Selina Kyle?), who the heck is named Patience? Let me guess, because she's a kind and innocent woman who has patience? She's the "hero", get it?

How about Ophelia Powers? The woman who's very knowledgeable about cats and their magical abilities -- "Powers", get it? They just had to rub that one in, didn't they? Let's talk about something else, like character stereotypes. Benjamin Bratt plays the stereotypical good guy detective. We see that he is a good guy detective because they show him giving run-of-the-mill "stay out of trouble" advice to a classroom full of little kids. Do you get it? He is like... the good guy!

Even the ridiculous editing of the movie yells Captain Obvious. Take one early scene for instance, where Patience Philips is revived as Catwoman by the magical cat. Patience is on the ground, unconscious. The cat stands over her. We are treated to lots of super-fast quick cutting behind Patience Philips and the stupid cat's face as it meows -- Thanks, we get the point! She's going to turn into Catwoman. Ugh.

Speaking of Captain Obvious, there's quite a few scenes in "Catwoman" that yell out product placement. For example, there's a scene where Patience Philips is researching the history of cats on her Apple laptop. The Apple logo is literally the main focus of the camera. How disgusting.

What Catwomen Want

Maybe that should have been the title for this movie, because it sounds like they took notes from the soundtrack for "What Women Want" for the music. Or maybe some Disney channel movie or TV show. If you don't believe me, try comparing the soundtrack of "Catwoman" with the soundtrack of "Jump In!" and you'll be surprised. I guess it goes hand-in-hand with the PG-13 rating of this film.

The Stupid Catfight

Eventually, we reach up to the climatic catfight between Halle Berry and Sharon Stone. I don't know, maybe it's me but watching a black actress who has lost weight on her back side wrestling around with an older-looking and unattractive Sharon Stone isn't really sexy. Maybe they should have made this movie sometime in the early to mid '90s, back when they both had what they don't have now.

If this were the same Halle Berry from "Boomerang" and "The Last Boy Scout", boy oh boy... and Sharon Stone -- Remember how young and sexy she looked in "Total Recall", "Basic Instinct", and "Gloria"? Here in "Catwoman", she just looks like some rambling old and conceited rich hag who lives on artsy fartsy Central Park West and eats nothing but salads.

However, back to the boring catfight, at one point Sharon Stone mentions that the skin cream has made her face "unbreakable"... you heard that right. I know this is supposed to be a comic book film and there's make-believe stuff, but a skin cream that makes skin unbreakable? Come on, surely, they could have come up with something better than that. It sounds like a horrendous and retarded idea.

Lastly, why on Earth does Halle Berry try to save Sharon Stone's life after she nearly knocks her out of a window? It seemed so forced and last minute, like the writer thought Ok, Catwoman manages to nearly defeat the villain, but the villain is still hanging on, now what? Oh wait, I know! She chooses to give the baddie a chance and save her life! That's what "superheroes" are supposed to do in these movies, right?

Random Things That Make No Sense

  • During one of the early scenes, before she even becomes Catwoman, Patience Philips climbs out of her apartment window to rescue the magical Egyptian cat on the ledge... Um, why!? Doesn't she know that cats are very good climbers? It climbed all the way up to her stupid apartment window from the alleyway. If anything, just call 911.
  • Catwoman follows one of the lead bad guys to a nightclub. Along the way, she stops as the bar and asks for a drink, then she just walks away. So... Catwomen don't have to pay for their drinks at nightclubs?
  • Patience's new cat-like persona forces her into stealing some jewelry from a store. So, cats like expensive jewels -- WTF!?
  • When Catwoman breaks into Sharon Stone's mansion to warn her about the deadly cream product, they engage in a verbal standoff regarding the matter. If she's trying to warn her about her product, why does this exchange of dialogue come off sounding more like lesbian flirting? There is not one hint of danger anywhere to be found in this scene.
  • A beauty cream that makes your face unbreakable? Seriously!?
  • Why do the night scenes with Catwoman jumping around rooftops look similar to those of "Daredevil"? Wow, I guess bad movies really do think alike.
  • This is a film about Catwoman and there's an off-screen sex scene?

Remedies for "Catwoman"

  • Make a faithful adaptation of the Catwoman character, not someone's stupid and totally different take on the material. Otherwise, don't even bother.

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Comments 14 comments

Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago

Pretty funny and insightful review as always. Although, your logic about how Catwoman should be portrayed as human as batman is a bit flawed though, since I think I recall you saying that you liked "Batman Returns." If you stop to think about it, Catwoman wasn't really a normal human being either in "Batman Returns", as she did gain cat like agility, when she was tossed out a building and brought back to life by cats. Plus, Michelle Pfiefer's Catwoman literally had nine lives, so that kind of defeats your argument...unless you want to say you hated the Catwoman portrayal in "Batman Returns" for the exact same reasons.

Other than that, I don't disagree with any of your points, but i just thought I'd throw that out there. Anyway, keep up the good work as always.


Alma Cabase profile image

Alma Cabase 4 years ago from Philippines

A very sexy movie..Just watched it a couple of months ago at my friend's place.

Good review.

Regards,

Alma


SPomposello profile image

SPomposello 4 years ago from NY Author

Thanks. Actually, no, Selina Kyle survives the fall in "Batman Returns" and the incident causes a psychotic breakdown in her. Her love of cats helped to influence her personality changes. She never had no real cat powers. The nine lives wasn't really meant to be taken literally, I think. Think about it, she survived the fall, that's 1. Another time she got pushed by Batman off a building and into a dump truck, thats another, she lived. There was of course the part with the tazer at the end, but that's a little questionable.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 4 years ago from The Garden State

Another quality review of a not-so-quality film. Voted up.

I have to give Halle Berry credit for this: when "Catwoman" won several awards at that year's "Razzies" she actually went to the ceremony to accept them in person, which is not something that most big-name stars would bother to do. I believe she even (sarcastically) thanked her manager for getting her into such a crappy film in her acceptance speech. So at least she's got a sense of humor about the whole thing.


SPomposello profile image

SPomposello 4 years ago from NY Author

lol, I wonder why she even listened to her manager in the first place? I mean its not like it would have hurt her career to say 'no', she was already an A list star.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 4 years ago from The Garden State

I'm sure there was a large paycheck in it for her for doing the movie...


SPomposello profile image

SPomposello 4 years ago from NY Author

Sad, sad... As if she couldn't live another 10 years without that one particular large paycheck. It amazes me how a lot of these "veteran" actors who used to be so good are starring in mostly crappy films nowadays for $20 million dollar paychecks while they phone in their performance. Take Samuel L. Jackson for example, does he have to be in 1-2 movies EVERY year? And mostly playing the same yelling character over and over? Are his expenses so ridiculously high and out of control that he needs a couple of $20 million paychecks every damn year!?

Al Pacino is another one. I saw him recently playing himself in "Jack and Jill". Yeah, you put in a lot of effort for that half-assed movie with that big paycheck of your's, didn't you?


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago

Yeah, but that doesn't mean that Burton's Batman was anywhere near realistic as you're making it out to be, as I think the term surrealistic fits Burton's Batman universe better. First of all, if we're talking about the concepts of realism here, then lets look at this logically for a minute. Selina Kyle was pushed out a twenty story freaking window by Max Shreck. Granted, there were those things that broke her fall along the way (I forget what they're called). However, a fall like that would've killed any other normal human being, or at the very least, it would've left her severely injured (i.e. broken bones and not able to walk for a good while).

Secondly, as far as Selina being pushed by Batman, you have to remember the dump truck was filled with kitty litter, and she even says, "Saved by kitty litter", so that doesn't count as her dying. Although, she does say that Batman killed her later on, in the movie, because of that earlier scene, so I might have to concede on that one point.

Thirdly, Selina was shot in the stomach by Max Shreck quite a few times before tazering him. Not saying any of those shots killed her, but I don't think any normal human being would still have the strength climb on rooftops afterwards, unless they had that much of a tolerance for pain.

Plus, if you go back to the very first Batman movie with Keaton, there's a lot of things that prove Burton's batman isn't realistic. Take the scene with Joker standing in the middle of the freaking street, while Batman fires a barrage of missiles directly at him, with his targeting system locked on him, and fired..yet he still misses. Yet, the joker pulls out a very long gun, and takes out the Bat Jet with one clear shot. You really want to argue about that being realistic?

Nah, I think the term surrealistic fits Burton's Batman better, and any other character within Burton's continuity of said character; which includes Selina Kyle.


SPomposello profile image

SPomposello 4 years ago from NY Author

Well, that's Burton's Batman. The point being that Selina had somehow managed to survive the fall in that movie. There's no magical Egyptian cats in Batman Returns that revive her or anyone like 'Ophelia Powers' that she goes to for answers, they practically made all that up for the spinoff.

I'm not arguing if Burton's Batman is more realistic, my point is they were straying far away from the source material with "Catwoman".


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago

LOL I hate this movie, great review as always :) Voted up and Everything Else.


tschaunerb profile image

tschaunerb 4 years ago from Medicine Hat

ha ha, why would someone even be reviewing this film at this point. Oh thanks for bring back highlarious memories. ;)


SPomposello profile image

SPomposello 4 years ago from NY Author

I know but I just had to vent, this movie pissed me off ;)


Jade Evans profile image

Jade Evans 4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

Great review, amusing. I really hated this movie, it pissed me off too. Couldn't believe how they could stuff it up so much, it was degrading to such an iconic character.


Anonymous 4 years ago

I agree with most of what you're saying apart from the part about why does Catwoman likes expensive jewels. Catwoman doesn't like expensive jewels, she likes the challenge of stealing something well-guarded and prescious. Did you ever actually see the character WEARING any of the jewellery apart from the diamond claws?

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