Catwoman: It all started on the day that I died.
Beware: Spoilers may follow.
When Batman Returns came out in 1992, many people took a liking to Catwoman’s character. Thus a solo film involving the anti-hero was in the works. And in 2004 we got our Catwoman movie. No matter what you may think of female superhero movies in recent years such as Wonder Woman or Captain Marvel, it does not get any worse than this. This movie set a horrible low for female-led superhero movies.
The story involves young Patience Phillips (Halle Berry) who works as a graphic designer for a cosmetics company called Hedare Beauty, which is ready to distribute a new skin-cream called Beau-line, which has the power to reverse aging. Patience finds out about its dangerous side effects after overhearing a discussion between a scientist and the wife of the company’s owner George Hedare (Lambert Wilson), named Laurel Hedare (Sharon Stone). When Patience is discovered eavesdropping she is drowned but brought back to life through an Egyptian Mau cat. As a result she develops cat-like abilities and an alternate persona thus becoming Catwoman and seeks answers as to who killed her and why.
The first problem with the movie is that there is no trace whatsoever of the mythos involved with the iconic character. All the movie did was slap the Catwoman name and made a completely different character. But even putting that aside, the movie is still bad.
The story about the conspiracy involving evil make-up is almost laughably bad and degrades its attempt to be a feminist movie through its made-up Egyptian mythology about the spirit of Catwoman being a part of women who want to be strong and free. The feminist message is even more degrading so when you consider the outfit she dons in her crime fighting.
When she becomes Catwoman just about every one of her behaviors is related to some sort of cat humor: she makes purring sounds, eats large amounts of tuna, hisses at dogs, lands on all fours, etc. As would be expected from a movie she also makes really bad cat puns. The movie is so over-the-top with all of this and yet it expects us to take the story seriously with the dark secret regarding the skin cream and how Catwoman came to be.
The movie sometimes uses a CGI Catwoman to capture the protagonist’s cat-like movements in action. But the way the movie cuts so far away and given how fast she jumps and moves gives no sense of the illusion.
The editing in this movie is also bad. The movie cannot hold on a single shot for a moment. Sometimes when the movie has nothing to cut to, it will cut to itself. This happens all throughout the movie and it’s capped off with an already horrible story, so it sticks out like a sore thumb. When it comes to the action it just won’t stop cutting leaving an empty void of any excitement that is supposed to be felt.
Halle Berry’s performance was by no means good in this movie but the writing for her character is so badly over-the-top that honestly no actress in the role could make any of the dialogue believable. And to her credit, she did accept her Razzie for worst actress for the movie with pride.
Benjamin Bratt plays Patience’s love interest detective Tom Lone and for a guy who’s supposed to be a detective and given how unsubtle Patience’s cat characteristics are he does not put two and two together and when he finds out it is through the most silliest of means.
Sharon Stone as the villain was also awful. There is no emotional connection to this character and her performance borders on cartoony at times than any real threat. And much like the rest of the actors, it’s really comes down to bad writing.
Catwoman is a horrible movie that pretty much gives the finger to the mythos of such a great character. It has horrible writing, acting, and direction. People often complain about female-led superhero movies of the modern era but with movies like these (and others in prior decades) it’s easy to understand why women would want better female leads. No matter what you may think of Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, or any other female superhero out there, this is as low as you can get.