With no way around it, and at the risk of sounding astonishingly trite, “Catwoman” puts the “cat” in catastrophe. The plot is ludicrous, unengaging, and demeaning; the over-sexualized action scenes are nauseating; and there is absolutely nothing one-named director Pitof or star Halle Berry (who, at this point, has face planted her fall from grace) will ever be able to do to disassociate themselves from this flop. The motion picture’s appeal rests entirely in Berry’s beauty and figure – and if you thought, as I did, that it would be impossible to grow tired of seeing those two things, you are dead wrong.
Berry plays Patience Phillips, a designer for an ad agency. She isn’t sure that she is a superhero. In fact, we aren’t either – in the Batman comics from which this character originated, she’s supposed to be a cat burglar (cute, right?) named Selina Kyle. But there are a lot of liberties being taken in this film that deviate itself from the source material. A setup like this acts as judge, jury, and executioner for any comic book fan watching. And although this movie has many faults in its production, this one is crucial.
Another lies in the mishandling of Patience’s transformation from human to superhuman – or is it super-cat? Heroine-feline? Who knows? How it happens in the movie is that she is given her powers from Midnight, a cat with ties to Ancient Egypt, soon after she is killed by fashion goons. For Patience, Catwoman is a duel personality; she is either one or the other.
This detail already makes it impossible for this film to compare to great comic book movies like “Spider-Man 2” (also released in 2004). Part of the experience in the Spidey flick is Peter Parker’s struggle to be both a hero and a teenager. In “Catwoman,” why does it seem that this lady is uninterested in the fact that her whole personality – or even her species – has changed?
With that said, Berry’s new persona looks really good on her. But with her high heels, her torn-up leather suit, and her whip, what can she do? She can walk atop her furniture, leap through the air, survive great falls (landing on all fours, a position she spends the majority of the movie in), and hiss. And how does she use these powers? For the first half of the film, she uses them playing lustful basketball with handsome cop Tom (Benjamin Bratt) and stopping late night parties from across the street.
What’s the need for such a sexy outfit? My guess is that producers wanted to cram as many teenage boys into the theater as possible – perhaps sell more posters. The film gives her a plot that could have come straight out of a kindergarten room. She works for a corporation that introduces a product promising women eternal youth, that is unless they stop wearing it, in which case they’ll look like a burn victim. When Patience discovers this diabolical side effect early on, she is chased by security guards, and flushed out of a waste pipe. This is when Midnight finds and revives her.
What an insulting premise. The only thing “Catwoman” teaches audiences is the crucial value of beauty – I can’t imagine the thoughts that would run through a young girl’s head watching this. Not only are the filmmakers flaunting Berry’s cleavage at us every three seconds, but her enemies’ motives are based entirely on youthful looks – in this movie, the world’s greatest threat is apocalyptic make up…really? The villains are Laurel and George Hedare (Sharon Stone and Lambert Wilson). He runs the cosmetics company and fires his wife as its headlining model for a younger face when she turns 40. She doesn’t take too kindly to this, to say the least.
It’s laughable how one-dimensional all of these characters are, especially Stone’s. It seems that their sole mission on the screen is to look good (which they admittingly succeed in doing). But where’s the passion? The closest “Catwoman” ever gets to passion is in its physical form with the relationship between Berry and Detective Tom. It is implied that they made love at least once in the movie (a scene which the PG-13 rating restricts us from seeing) with Tom getting up out of bed with claw marks on his shoulder.
This relationship – which is unique in its total lack of chemistry and energy – is destined to fail. Patience knew the detective before her rebirth – when she chases Midnight out on the balcony, he thinks that she is trying to commit suicide, and saves her from slipping – but she clearly is not Patience anymore. Where are the scenes that showcase the turmoil that would undoubtedly engulf a relationship when one of its participants is turned into a cat?
“Catwoman” is the exception to the rule, “you only get out what you put in:” if you put nothing into this cinematic “experience,” the least you’ll come out with is a headache.
– by Luke Parker