Catwoman (2004)
By: J.R. McNamara on February 25, 2012  | 
DVD
Reel | Region 4, PAL | 2.40:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 5.1 | 99 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Pitof
Starring: Halle Berry, Sharon Stone, Benjamin Bratt, Lambert Wilson, Frances Conroy
Screenplay: John Brancato, Michael Ferris, John Rogers
Country: USA
External Links
IMDB YouTube Purchase
I have been a comic fan for well over 35 years, and I have to admit that whenever I hear that one of my favourite characters is coming out in a cinematic form I am a little excited by the prospect. OK, more than a little excited: maybe, just maybe, on occasion a little bit of wee does leak out.

More often than not that excitement turns to trepidation as I hear of choices made in the casting department, but after being proven wrong with my doubts about Michael Keaton being able to perform a decent Batman, I concede that some ludicrous decisions can actually work.

Catwoman is a character I have loved since I first read of her in a Batman comic, and as her character evolved over the years from a cat-burgling she-foil for the Dark Knight into a love-interest female Robin Hood of Gotham City I always had hopes of seeing her on the big screen, outside of a Bat-film and on her own, so imagine my excitement when this film was originally announced in 1995 to be written by Heathers screenwriter Daniel Waters, as a vehicle for Michelle Pfeiffer after her portrayal of the character in Batman Returns as a psychologically damaged ex-shrinking violet turned super-villain/spirit of vengeance.

Unfortunately, as sometimes happens in Hollywood, films are put on the back-burner; cast and crew are replaced, and scripts are re-written - in this case apparently 14 times (which is a giant red flag against quality). For a film that could have had a real pro-feminine stance, the story descended into something where the main character wanted pretty things, and became involved in a fight against an evil cosmetics company.

This version of Catwoman tells the tale of advertising artist Patience Phillips (Halle Berry), a downtrodden wallflower who works for cosmetic magnate George Hedare (Lambert Wilson) and his wife Laurel Hedare (Sharon Stone). After being told her work is not good enough by George, Phillips redoes some artwork in record time and delivers it to him at one of his factories, only to discover their new product Beau-line has disastrous side-effects. Hedare orders his flunkies to kill Phillips and she is flushed out of a sewer pipe, and drowns, only to be brought back to life by a bunch of cats, led by a cat she had previously rescued, and some magical cat hoodoo.

She returns from death as a flesh eating cat zombie… no, sorry, she returns from death with all the powers of the cat: can always land on her feet, can see in the dark, can wield a bullwhip (hang on, cats can do that?) and is so flexible she can lick herself in places normally only others can reach.

Note: that last idea tragically did not make it into the film.

What she does do though is dress in the sluttiest leather clothes she can find and both foils crimes and commits them at the same time, and eventually is told by a mysterious cat lady, Ophelia (Francis Conroy) that she is the latest in a long line of vengeful spirits that give women super powers (an idea stolen directly from The Crow, along with some of the dialogue). Eventually Catwoman decides to use her powers to defeat the Hedares and stop their evil plans to copy the Joker's threat from 1989's Batman film.

This film has absolutely no saving graces. Bad acting, atrocious CGI, over-glossy production design, and a story so clichéd and… well, crap that I believe the cavalcade of writers may not have been responsible for it at all, and instead it was actually written by some kind of computer programmed to write the worst screenplay ever! I imagine getting caught by your Mum polishing your dolphin to Playstation 1 graphics of Lara Croft would be less embarrassing that being caught watching this pile of steaming cat turd.

Now I guess I should clarify some of the comments made in the previous paragraph.

Academy Award winner Berry truly embarrassed herself and a good percentage of womankind by appearing in this: the quality of her acting is nothing short of dull. I am sure that forever more, comics fans who have seen this film will no longer fantasize about her multi-million dollar mams but will instead dream of slapping her face. Singling her out though is unfair: Bratt was as flaccid as ever, Stone coated her villainy with an air of boredom and the supercool Wilson was as interesting as a high school science teacher. The only actor in this who truly acted to her abilities was Alex Borstein, who other than her portrayal of Lois Griffin in Family Guy is an affront to both words in the term 'acting profession'.

The CGI was a huge problem here as well. It is a shame that someone like me, who is a proponent of this cinematic artform, can have the barely good enough to be a console game cut-scene images in this film as an argument against him. I certainly hope the team responsible didn't high five each other upon presentation to the director, as to approve this he must have had no standards, or no budget. The surprising thing about either of those options is that Pitof is normally a special effects supervisor and has works on such films as Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children.

The production design deserves a huge smack in the face as well. Straight up, the worst costume ever for the character of Catwoman, and considering in the comics at one point she wore a scaly green outfit, that is saying something. Sure it showed off Berry's great body, but it also showed what a slut looks like at the end of a big night of B and D. The cityscape was lacklustre as well, after the amazing designs used in Tim Burton's films of Gotham City, designed by Anton Furst these were just uninteresting, standard city skylines.

This film received 7 nominations for Razzies, which are the anti Academy Awards, and won 4 of them, which, to her credit, Berry went to receive. It seems to me, upon reflection, she was aware of the travesty in which she had taken part.
Video
There is no doubt that the image is fantastic and is presented in 2.40:1 with 16:9 enhancement, but I don't imagine anyone will ever test their AV equipment by throwing on a Catwoman DVD!
Audio
Again, this disc has a really great presentation here in Dolby Digital 5.1 but you will never use it as a standard by which to set other discs.
Extra Features
The Many Faces of Catwoman is an excellent, if brief, look at all the actresses who have played the character, hosted, as it should be, by Ertha Kitt, and with comments from various comic creators, writers and co-stars (the immortal Adam West) about the history of the feline felon. I have to say my favourite inadvertently funny part of this piece is Halle Berry's whip trainer talking about her impressive 'horizontal crack'. OooooKay….

Behind the Scenes Documentary is a traditional BTS piece that briefly discusses the making of the film, with a lot of clips from the film. At best, it is perfunctory.

The deleted scenes were thankfully, deleted, as it shortened a film that already suffers with far too much padding. I would like to especially point out what absolute GASH the alternate ending is, as well.

There is also a theatrical trailer, and some DVD-rom stuff which involves the installation of something called Interactual Player 2.0.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Make no doubt the kitty litter of Hollywood was cleaned out to make this film. After watching this I felt like I had just watched a much loved character from my childhood being anally-raped by Big Bubba from Cellblock H.

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