Directed by Pitof
It's possible to enjoy a movie quite a lot and still not be able to recommend it - Catwoman falls into that category. It is a pretty good looking film in terms of costumes, production design, and special effects and Halle Berry's Catwoman is an appealing character in a summer-movie/comic-book sort of way. She looks great in her ripped up black latex costume (the head piece looks a little lame in still photos but worked fine in the movie) and she did well at creating a feline personality. Catwoman's reaction to catnip was overdone but I loved the way she reacted to a group of snarling dogs. The other half of the character (her human half as Patience Phillips) wasn't well developed - they should have devoted more screen time to introducing her as a regular person in order to create the contrast with the super-human alter-ego. That is one of the strong points of Spider-Man 2 - the viewer gets to know the character of Peter Parker very well as human being with a long list of faults and problems. However, I do like the way they made Catwoman into a bit of a bad kitty at times - not as bad as the real villains - but no goody-two-shoes - it would be a shame to have Halle Berry dressed up in such a hot costume and not let her be a little naughty.
It goes without saying that there has to be a love interest for our pretty kitty and what else but a cop - what a surprise -- a cop as the romantic lead in a summer action movie! Benjamin Bratt did a good acting job as the cop who is dating Patience while pursuing Catwoman (she is wanted in connection with several crimes.) I would have written the cop character differently -- a little more hard-edged -- and showed him as intrigued with the phenomenon of Catwoman - he (and apparently everyone else) didn't seem all that surprised that this super-human creature was leaping around town doing outrageous things. At least the film makers were able to resist the temptation to overdo the romantic angle or give it the typical feel-good, happily-ever-after ending when the bad guys are caught and it's time to roll credits. The villains (Sharon Stone and Lambert Wilson - he is making a pretty good career of playing bad guys - you may have seen him in the Matrix movies) seemed too stereotypical and by-the-numbers for my liking. Of course, the evil plot behind all the mischief has a mean old corporation planning to sell the public a toxic skin cream and, of course, Catwoman is the only one who can foil the nasty plan. It would have been so much more interesting to have her battle it out with some kind of super villain - come on Hollywood, use your imagination --- these corporate conspiracies are getting old and over-played.
No summer movie based on a comic book character would be complete without lots of action and the film makers pack it in. The action sequences are well designed and nice looking (effects and production design) but were too choppy for my tastes - instead of showing a fight scene from one or two perspectives and letting the camera run on one of those so as to capture the movement of the players, director Pitof elected to simulate movement by rapid-fire editing - the action scenes are almost a collection of still photos strung together - MTV-style. Also, her super-human cat movements weren't very well rendered (at least compared, inevitably, to Spider-Man 2) she looked too much like a character in a video game, bouncing around the screen. Maybe I'm being too picky - the audience seemed to love all that stuff and gave the movie a round of applause at the end credits. Catwoman is a fairly well executed action movie - I've seen better, but it isn't bad - and a somewhat cheesy drama with often campy dialog - it lacks a compelling plot and interesting villains - but Halle Berry sure does look great in the costume.
Product placement update: in the movie, Catwoman caresses the hood ornament of a Jaguar sedan - it seems that Jaguar has a tie-in ad campaign (TV) that features Halle Berry, as Catwoman, purring suggestively and slinking around a Jag. I'm having trouble reconciling the ad - which I viewed as campy -- with what I thought of as their brand image: upper-crust, understated and sophisticated.
Photographs are copyright Warner Brothers.
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