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Catwoman /

Rated: PG-13

Starring: Halle Berry, Benjamin Bratt, Sharon Stone, Lambert Wilson, Frances Conroy

Directed by: Jean-Christophe "Pitof" Comar

Produced by: Edward L. McDonnell, Denise DiNovi, Edward McDonnell
Written by:
John Bracato, Michael Ferris & John Rogers
Distributor: Warner Bros.


Sharon Stone and Halle Berry in Warner Brothers' Catwoman
Benjamin Bratt and Halle Berry in Warner Brothers' Catwoman
Halle Berry in Warner Brothers' Catwoman

     In its first act, Catwoman excels, boasting flavorfully cheesy sketches of pure genius. The scenes represent something along the lines of a mix of Spider-Man and Mission Impossible, thoroughly involving us in a hip style and a booming soundtrack. Viewers will be happily surprised as they immerse themselves in the corniness of the material, only to be desperately disappointed in the final two thirds. As the film progresses, it gets much worse, and the lack of seriousness becomes a dreadful burden to its performance. In fact, every bit of it that features “Catwoman” is absolutely terrible; the reason the beginning is so pleasurable to watch is because Halle Berry’s Patience Phillips has not yet become half-feline. Why would anyone want to buy a ticket to a film, simply to be disgusted by its rapid decline as it furthers in duration?

     Catwoman opens as Patience narrates over her dead body, floating in a stream. She announces that she is humbled by her death, in her Catwoman-personality, because if she had not been killed, she would never have been able to experience true excitement. This sense of euphoria, however, does not lead to heroism. This is a movie with an evil protagonist and even dirtier bad-guys. Rarely does a motion picture succeed when it has an unlikable main character, and with such a careless director, Catwoman had no chance to bear any sort of quality.

     Catwoman then rewinds a few days from the opening incident and shows us to a much more human Patience (who is, essentially, the only “good” character in the film). She works for a beauty cream company, as a publicity artist. Finding her ad-work to be less than desirable, and critiquing the light shades of red used (which he ordered), her boss (Lambert Wilson) provides her with a deadline for correction. After she finishes tweaking the logo of sorts, she must run it down to the company’s headquarters, after discovering that a delivery man isn’t going to pick it up for her. There, she finds the product’s founders discussing its long-term effects, which make the skin it is applied to raw and worn. They see Patience spying on them in the room, and decide that they must kill her. When she hides in the enormous water pipes of the building, in attempts to run away, they flush her out of the building with the rushing liquid, and the impact kills her. Patience’s dead body, now lying in the dirt of the earth, is then surrounded by cats, and resurrected. On the succeeding day, she’s dressed in black leather and equipped with a new hairdo, ready to seek revenge on the evil heads of the cream-company.

     Once Patience morphs into Catwoman, viewers will become strongly apathetic toward her, as Halle Berry’s performance isn’t put to good use. The film turns into strictly an action picture, after the first forty-five minutes, and all of the actors are mere puppets, swaying on the hundred-million dollar stage of the director, who calls himself Pitof. I think I was angrier with the cats who resurrected Patience into an S&M-obsessed monster more than anyone else in Catwoman, because they were the very creatures who forced the movie to continue. I’m not sure that I’ll ever be able to look at my hairball-puking house-pets in the same way, again.

     The special effects in the movie are superb, just as they have been in every other big summer blockbuster, currently in release. Do visuals really matter anymore, though? Are they truly more important than pure substance? It seems as though moviegoers believe so, seeing that they keep buying tickets to crap, such as this.

     I would much rather see A Cinderella Story a second time than I would Catwoman. Both films are rather uninspired, but the difference between them is that the former puts emphasis on its charming performances and light tone, which leads to its ultimately succeeding. This picture, on the other hand, resorts to big brawls and bright lights, in its disparity. It’s dishonest, cold, and nonchalant, unlike its rather direct and upfront competitor. Watching it, at least during its final two acts, I was in indescribable pain. Whatever campy, comic value it possesses in the beginning is diminished, come its end. Halle Berry has shown that she can do much more than this. At least, this time, she manages to keep her clothes.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews (7.26.2004)

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