With the recent release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and its less then stellar reception, I thought I would dig back into the Batman universe and see how truly filthy I could get. No, not the Tim Burton films, not even Batman And Robin (though I do love that film). No friends, today I am going to a much darker place, and it doesn’t even have Batman in it. Yes, I can only be talking about the 2004 masterpiece of cinema known only as, Catwoman. A film that somehow has so CGI that it might as well be animated at some points. A film that doesn’t just not understand how to write female characters, but a working universe. Strap yourself in folks, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.
Okay so I am going to attempt to try and explain this films garbled attempt at the Catwoman origin story. The film starts on a little tidbit that throughout history there has been multiple Catwomen, chosen by cats (a Catsassin’s Creed if you will). The latest in this long line of feline heroines is Patience Philips (Halle Berry), because apparently Director Jean-Christophe “Pitor” Comar thought that Selina Kyle wasn’t good enough, or he didn’t do any research. Patience is an awkward, shy graphic designer at Hedare Beauty, a large make up company in……Gotham? No seriously is this movie in set in Gotham? Nobody ever mentions the city name, it’s far too clean and it seems to be almost entirely made of bad early 2000s CGI skylines.
Things are going well for Patience, she has a boyfriend, good friends and a killer job, its a shame that the companies make-up is actually killing people. Well giving them white walker skin anyway. So through a series of events, horrific editing and awkward dialogue, Patience finds out the companies evil secret, and is murdered. Yep, murdered. By a make-up company, truly the most evil and corrupt organisation since the Third Reich. Washing up on shore after ….drowning?( I am still a little unclear as to how she died), A group of CGI cats flock to her and bring her back to life with the power of fish breath, rather then doing what cats actually do to dead bodies, eat them. Brought back to life, Patience now has new found strength, agility and sassiness, and its up to her to track down those responsible for her death and take them down.
So, my biggest problem with this cast has got to be Catowman herself. Not that Halle Berry is particularly terrible, it’s just that she isn’t playing Catwoman, she is playing a weirdly sexualised woman acting like a cat. While I am not the biggest fan of the character, I at least know that she isn’t physically a cat. She doesn’t hiss at dogs, run from rain, eats cans of tuna by the pound or love catnip. Sure she made puns, but while Eartha Kitt could get away with it because she was in the campiest version of the series, this movie plays the entire thing weirdly straight. Patience also gains multiple personality disorder after she dies by the way, as she consistently switches between sweet shy girl next door Patience to overly sexual sassy Catwoman. This is never addressed other than Patience occasionally being weirded out that she did stuff like steal jewelry or give herself a new sexy makeover (my cat can’t do that).
Other than Patience, there a few other characters of note. She has two friends like every female lead does, a quirky less pretty co-worker to make her look better and a gay man who makes occasional noises to fill space. The reason I bring these two up is that they are the reason that Patience has a tailored, cat shaped leather suit, because they bought her it for her birthday. Okay, listen, I know it is hard to get a superhero suit into modern comic book adaptations, X-Men has been struggling with it for years, but you don’t just have a hero’s suit given by their friends randomly for no reason or meaningful context. Sharon Stone plays the villain of the hour, the evil vengeful CEO of Hedare Beauty, called Laurel, a name far too similar to L’Oréal to be a coincidence. Her deal is that she wears so much makeup, her skin has become impervious to damage, so just in case you were wondering what this directors view of make up was, now you know. Sharon Stone is awful here, in fact everyone in this production feels like they walked onto screen without any clear direction, especially Halle Berry. While I have the unpopular opinion that she ruins any superhero role she touches (I hate her portrayal of Storm), here she is an absolute cat-astophe. See now she has me doing it!
Okay so earlier I mentioned CGI, and hands down, even I was shocked. Going into this, I was assuming maybe a little here and there, maybe for a bad villain sequence or in a fight scene. What I did not expect was it being used in EVERY fight scene. And I don’t mean used to cut corners, I mean every single part Halle Berry fights, she is a CGI cartoon. This mixed with some of the most disorienting use of editing I have ever seen(Jump cuts galore) makes for some of the weakest and least impactful fight sequences I have seen since Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children, and somehow that films CGI looked better than this. And that’s not even getting close to the good stuff. So the CGI cat, I just gotta talk about it. The cat that brings Patience back to life with its magic cat breath or whatever is this, horrific early 2000s bad furr affect nightmare that will haunt my nightmares for weeks to come. And its not like this needed to be made, we have real cats, they exist. This is Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part Two CGI baby bad, I am not kitten you. Oh goddammit!
I can honestly say, I didn’t expect it to be this bad. From my previous knowledge of the film I assumed I was in for a fairly dumb, badly put together film with an actress I don’t particularly enjoy, but my god I was not prepared for the utter shit show that awaited me. The thing is, superhero films with a female lead have run into problems time and time again, with Elektra and Supergirl having similar problems. The difference is, Elektra is boring and Supergirl just doesn’t make sense as a film, but Catwoman is determined to break you. The film is a mess, no matter how you look at it, from the terrible acting, score and atrocious CGI, the film is far from purrfect.