John D. Brancato, Michael Ferris, John Rogers (Comic: Bob Kane)
Halle Berry, Benjamin Bratt, Sharon Stone, Lambert Wilson, Frances Conroy, Alex Borstein, Michael Massee
PG-13 (For action violence and some sensuality)
Groomed with a new look, the illustrious Catwoman of comic book fame claws her way back onto the big screen in what is sure to be this summer’s most deserved flop.
Thirteen years after Batman hit the big screen, movies based on material from comic book publisher DC seldom ignite the imaginations of audiences. Catwoman was introduced in the second of four Batman films Batman Returns. Envisioned as a dark heroine, Michelle Pfeiffer’s bravura performance left audiences begging for more. Now, Catwoman is back but in a completely different outfit.
Played by the beautiful Halle Berry who generally fits into any role she plays, the titular bad kitty spits every hackneyed clich (yes, it’s redundant, but so is this film). Berry has failed to spark box office success after being crowning as the first black actress to win the Academy Award in the lead category. Each new performance is not only lesser in quality, but each slowly wipes away the memory of her fantastic performance in Monsters Ball.
Music video director Pitof takes the helm of Catwoman and manages to make the Batman series’ destructor Joel Schumacher look like a Renaissance master as he stumbles through the most unoriginal film pushed to the big screen in a long while.
Although we saw Catwoman’s alter ego Patience Phillips die and rise again in Batman Returns , we’re subjected to a brand new version of the previously intriguing events. This time, Patience overhears a plot to corner the cosmetics market with a skin cream that is detrimental to women if they stop using it. She’s killed by goons hired to keep the project secret and is reborn through the grace of an ancient feline descended from the gods of the Egyptian Pharaohs.
If it weren’t for the comic relief of Patience’s co-worker Sally (Alex Borstein) or the rugged talent of her cop lover/tracker Tom Lone (Benjamin Bratt), Catwoman would be a complete waste. Some of the action sequences are mildly entertaining but the visual effects are so rudimentary that it makes the revolutionized technology look prehistoric.
Screenwriters John D. Brancato, Michael Ferris and John Rogers should be embarrassed by all of their assaults on our intelligence. Their screenplay is so riddled with poor characterization and mind-numbing dialogue that even the most ardent comic book fan can’t help but be insulted by this waste of celluloid.
And what would the film be without its performances? Better. Berry is bad, but obvious villain Sharon Stone is appalling. There are direct-to-video titles, some starring one of the worst actors alive (Dolph Lundgren), that have better acting. Stone is so unbelievable as a bad guy that you root for her demise not because you think she should be taken down but because you’re sick of seeing her on the screen. Not since Casino has she been remotely good and her future doesn’t look to be improving.
Catwoman is one of those films that if you find your friends like the film, have them see a doctor. They are either too fixated on dominatrix outfits to be sane or are starting to lose their hearing and eyesight. Like cats bury their waste under litter or what other covering they can find, the studio should cover this pile quickly because it’s already starting to stink.
August 12, 2004