"The day I died was also the day I started to live." - Patience Phillips
Patience Phillips (Halle Berry) is a graphic designer at a cosmetics company run by haughty metrosexual George Hedare (Lambert Wilson) and his aging, former super model wife Laurel (Sharon Stone). Shy and very much put-upon, she goes about her daily life lonely and repressed. One night while scrambling to meet a deadline, she overhears the company's chemist tell the Hedares that a new anti-aging skin cream they are about to release is toxic. The product Beau-line, is addictive and causes headaches, dizziness and blackouts, and if a customer stops using it their face will literally begin to melt. The Hedares tell him that people "will never know if they never stop using it" but the chemist continues to make his case and he is summarily killed. A horrified Patience tries to run, but the Hedares send their henchman after her and she ends up being trapped in a giant pipe. After being flushed out to sea through the company's waste disposal system, she dies in the toxic water. When her body washes ashore, she is surrounded by a group of felines and brought back from the dead by a CGI cat named Midnight who breathes magical life into her.
The newly-resurrected Patience, confused and curious about what's happened to her, seeks out the help of retired college professor Ophelia Powers (Frances Conroy) who tells Patience she is now a 'cat woman' - a mystical line of women dating back to Egyptian times and the Goddess Bast. Ophelia tells her "Catwomen are not contained by the rules of society. You are a catwoman, fiercely independent. You've spent a lifetime caged. Now you can be free, and freedom is power. Accept it, child." Patience dons a sexy black leather outfit and begins exhibiting cat-like behaviour that has her eating tuna right out of the can, slurping sushi, scaling walls and hissing at dogs. Shortly before her murder, Patience tried to rescue a cat (the aforementioned Midnight) from the ledge of her apartment building and Detective Tom Lone (Benjamin Bratt) who thought she was trying to commit suicide saves her. They begin a romantic relationship while he pursues Catwoman, now the prime suspect in a rash of recent crimes. - as clever a detective as he is, Lone has no idea that his girlfriend and Catwoman are one and the same, but he finds himself drawn to the latter as well. As Patience adjusts to her feline alter ego, she sets about finding and punishing those responsible for her murder.
Frenchman Pitof (Jean-Christophe Comar) makes his American directorial debut with Catwoman. Known primarily for his dazzling visual-effects, particularly his work for Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro (The City of Lost Children, Delicatessen), it's a shame he didn't learn much in the way of dramatic narrative from his mentors. He, along with screen writers John Brancato and Michael Ferris opted to make this Catwmoman a new stand alone anti-hero, bearing no resemblance in name or origins to the Selina Kyle from DC Comics, or the roles played by Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt and Lee Meriwether in the 1960's camp classic Batman or even the Michelle Pfeiffer role in Batman Returns. With help from cinematographer Thierry Arbogast (Femme Fatale), he gives the CGI-laden film a slick, glossy look, but falls short with its storytelling.
After winning the Oscar for her excellent performance in Monster's Ball, Halle Berry(Gothika) became part of Hollywood's A list. But in the years since her win, she's slowly losing the credibilty she so painstakingly built up due to a string of inferior films like Swordfish, Gothika and now Catwoman. In her defence, she was going through a very public break-up with her second husband Eric Benét due to his alleged sex addiction and cheating, and she said putting on the costume made her feel better about herself. Whatever her reasons, she manages to look stunning in that leather Catwoman outfit while delivering embarrassing one-liners and doing everything your pet kitty would do short of using the litter box and licking herself clean. Benjamin Bratt's (Piñero) likable Tom Lone is nice to look at, but the sexual chemistry between he and Berry is lukewarm at best, especially in his scenes with Patience. Sharon Stone's icy Laurel (Cold Creek Manor) is probably the most fleshed-out of the bunch. She's convincing as the 'discarded in favour of a younger woman' former supermodel wife unlike Lambert Wilson (The Matrix Revolutions) who sleepwalks his way through the film as her husband. Frances Conroy (Six Feet Under) as the mysterious cat lady Ophelia is good, but isn't given much to work with and Alex Borstein (Mrs. Swan from Mad TV) is oddly miscast and very out-of-place with her wise-cracking dialogue as Patience's sassy best friend Sally.
Fifteen years ago, Catwoman was supposed to be a spin-off of the Selina Kyle character so brilliantly portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns. Pfeiffer initially expressed interest, but didn't want to endure the costume again. As time went on, Ashley Judd was set to play the part but at the last minute withdrew from the project. Nicole Kidman was their next choice, but she declined and they eventually went with Berry. The pre-release panning the film received was brutal. The early publicity pictures of Berry in her Catwoman costume were met with much skepticism and ridicule. In addition to the laughable dialogue, frenetic MTV-like visuals and over-the-top acting, the film lacks any real excitement. The action sequences are dull and repetitive and underscored with a particularly grating soundtrack by Klaus Badelt and Timothy Andrew Edwards and the actors play it so seriously, it doesn't even qualify as camp. If you're a fan of Halle Berry and want to see her strut around in what amounts to little more than S&M Gear, then Catwoman's for you. If you're looking for a comic book-to-film adaptation on a par with Spider-Man 2, keep looking. Spider-Man 2 works because it has a heart, a brilliant cast, strong character development and a kick-ass villian. Catwoman is simply an excuse to squeeze Halle Berry into a tight leather outfit.
Last updated: 19/04/2018 12:23:37