** (out of 5)
July 24, 2004
Halle Berry as PATIENCE PRINCE/CATWOMAN
Benjamin Bratt as TOM LONE
Sharon Stone as LAUREL HEDARE
Lambert Wilson as GEORGE HEDARE
Alex Bornstein as SALLY
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: Pitof
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
“Catwoman” is another installment in a long list of overly-stylized superhero movies trying to cash in on the success of “Spider-Man” and “X Men.”
The film is directed by Pitof, who came up through the ranks of visual effects. This helps the big summer blockbuster angle, but he uses too much visual effects wizardry to pad out the film. Coming up through visual effects is like coming from the world of music videos. So much emphasis is put on style and coolness that good, honest storytelling goes down the drain.
As far as this breed directors who made a good, stylized transition to feature films, there are some decent ones out there. Well, at least there’s two: David Fincher and Spike Jonze. But for every Fincher and Jonze, you get someone like McG who is so colassally uncreative that he has to rip off his own movies to attempt to be fresh.
Sadly, Pitof looks like he’s going down the same path as these folks. There’s too many poses in “Catwoman.” Too much forgettable club music in the soundtrack. Too much fancy cutting and irritating CGI sequences. But at least there’s plenty of shots of Halle Berry’s backside.
Where Marvel had last year’s lackluster “Daredevil,” DC Comics and parent company Time Warner have “re-imagined” their latest B-list character. It’s funny enough that DC hasn’t really made a superhero movie lately, and it’s refreshing to see them at least try. After all, the last big push of popular superhero movies in the 1980s and 1990s were from DC. But this time, this movie is more inspired by the DC Comics Catwoman rather than actually based on the actual characters (considering there’s nothing from the comics in the movie beyond the name).
The plot is pretty thin, featuring a murderous conspiracy at a cosmetics company. Halle Berry plays mousy Patience Prince, a graphic designer at the company. When she stumbles onto a conspiracy to put a new toxic beauty cream on the market, she is flushed down the company’s sewer system. Miraculously, though, she is resurrected by a magical Egyptian cat. To avenge her killers, Patience become Catwoman, an aggressive vixen with superhuman strength, reflexes and agility.
Yeah, not exactly a brilliant story. It’s times like these that you pin your hopes on the cast.
Too bad. Benjamin Bratt just goes through the motions as the sexy police detective investigating everything from jewel robberies to homicide. Alex Bornstein, who is usually a breath of fresh air in her films, just seems awkward and out of place Patience’s gossipy best friend.
Sharon Stone gets a wink and a nod for having the guts to play an aging sex symbol, struggling to keep herself young. But she doesn’t put any heart in the role. Not a lick of real acting going on here. Sure, it’s a cheesy role, but at least have some fun with it. Stone’s character reminds me of Demi Moore’s lame portrayal of a villain in last summer’s “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.” There must be some huge credit card bills in Stone’s mailbox, ‘cause it seems that she really needed the paycheck.
In fact, the only thing saving this movie is Halle Berry, but not necessarily for her acting. Let’s face it, Oscar or no Oscar, Halle Berry ain’t the greatest actor on the planet. She does a competent job as Catwoman (although she’s a little weak on her secret identity), but she just can’t deliver the classic Catwoman lines like Julie Newmar and Lee Meriwether – or even Michelle Pfeiffer – could.
But “Catwoman” isn’t a total loss. It can still think of two big reasons to watch it again.