Movie Review: "Catwoman" (2004)
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.
- Movie Review: "Supergirl" (1984)
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