‘Catwoman’ Review: This is Pawful (Get it? It’s a cat pun.)

Posted in The Screening Room by - May 09, 2015

The early 2000s were a rough time for comic book movies. The films had lost the camp and over-the-top exaggerated styles of the 1990s in favor of what would eventually become the gritty, violent versions we get today. Unfortunately, big budget Hollywood producers still saw comic book fans as fat dumb children, or nerds living above the family garage. In this mindset they created films with poor plot, absurdly thematic characters, and a complete ineptitude at displaying anything remotely similar to human behavior. The content remained childish and absurd while the stylistic choices and tone got dark and gritty. Not all comic movies from the period were fiascoes, but this perception from the big wigs in the entertainment industry is the reason we were given cinematic flops like Daredevil, Elektra, The Hulk, and The Fantastic Four. Rarely have I met other human beings who felt that any of these movies warranted compliments of any sort, and the same can be said of Catwoman.

Catwoman is the 2004 film starring Halle Berry as the titular character sauntering through a plot that makes as much sense as handing a two year old a lit stick of dynamite. When a beauty cream company prepares to launch a skin care product that causes headaches, fainting, addiction, long term facial scarring, and, for some reason, the hardening of the user’s skin in to rock hard slabs of granite that feel no pain, Halle Berry, mild mannered and clumsy Patience Williams, stumbles upon the secret. Her employers have her killed, at which point a cat that has apparently been alive for centuries breathes it’s life force in to her corpse and grants her the super human abilities of a cat.

It’s at this point that I have to clarify a few things. The first is that there is no comic book version of Catwoman that I could find during my research that was a bumbling, shy, downtrodden employee that was killed by her boss and granted life and super powers by actual physical cats. Every Incarnation I could find was simply a troubled woman, gifted with grace and charm, who liked to steal shit. Some versions went so far as to have her work as a street walking dominatrix, thieving to fund her escape from her abusive pimp. None even remotely suggested that an Egyptian god in the body of a feline went around granting worthy women the abilities of a cat in order to free them from their life of toil. Secondly, for any would be screen writers out there, please find another way to show that your character is clumsy and awkward then by having them bump in to literally everyone they walk past on their way to work, with frazzled hair and clothing that even I, as a man with no eye for fashion, can tell makes her look like a blind hobo.

Continuing with the plot of the film, Selena discovers she has super powers, again not something any Catwoman I found actually had, and uses them to steal shiny objects and make her next door neighbors turn down the music at their party. She meets a handsome cop, played by Benjamin Bratt, who also happens to be investigating the Catwoman jewelry theft, and who works as a mentor in an after school program for inner city youths. In one scene she visits him at the program and the children, during their recess period, ask the cop and his apparent girlfriend to play one on one basketball while they watch. They dribble and rub against each other in front of children for five minutes to the song “Scandalous” by Mis-teeq. Eventually Selena and Bratt find out that the wife of the CEO of the beauty company is behind everything and go to the top floor of a skyscraper to confront her. We reach the climax, which is literally Catwoman kicking the shit out of a villain that can not feel pain. It is one of the most boring finales of a movie that I have ever seen.

The writing and dialogue of the film is terrible. At one point Catwoman, in full dress, walks in to a bar and orders a “White Russian, no ice, hold the vodka, hold the Kaluha.” The bartender replies by grinning, setting a glass of cream on the table and saying “Cream, straight up.” as if the request is a normal occurrence. The film also opens with voice over saying “It all started the day that I died.” before setting the movie’s intro two days before her death. It’s also disappointing to see that all homosexual characters in cinema are apparently caricatures of “normal” people.

The artistic aspects of Catwoman are also some of the most dated I’ve had the misfortune of witnessing. The CGI of Halle Berry as she scuttles up walls and runs on all fours stretches her limbs in to disproportionate lengths, as if she warps back and forth between a normal person and some sort of monster. Her stunt double is a noticeably male performer. The movie includes product placement for Nokia, with a phone that never has and never will exist. The sound track is made up entirely of early 2000s hip hop, and is primarily performed by female artists that are no longer relevant. The action scenes are almost completely made up of Berry’s stunt man doing round house kicks and flips, and are so few and far between that I forgot this movie was supposed to be exciting.

All in all, Catwoman is a detriment to the comic book movie world. Even Halle Berry in a leather outfit that could, at best, be described as a bra, couldn’t bring in enough viewers to make back the 100 million dollar budget of the film. The best way to describe this movie to people would be that it is essentially Spider Man if Spidey spent as little of the movie as possible actually fighting Doc Oc and instead spent it on dates with Mary Jane and discussing his dates with his horny fat friend played by Zach Galifianakis. The characters are entirely unrelatable, the sound track is grating unless you still love 2000s hip hop, the visuals are disconcerting, and the pay off is week at best. Don’t watch Catwoman unless someone puts a gun to your head.

Final Say: Skip It

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Born in Arizona, he currently resides in Denton, Texas. When he isn't watching movies he's playing board games and drinking whatever he can get his hands on. John watches Djimon Honsou movies because he likes Spawn, which had Michael Jai White.
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