A/V Room









Catwoman (12A)

Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: One

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Additional scenes, Behind the scenes documentary, 'The Many Faces Of Catwoman' featurette, Theatrical trailer.

WITHOUT wanting to sound catty, it’s easy to see why the claws are out for Catwoman, the latest super-hero to hit the Big Screen.

The film, which has comically been dubbed ‘the Showgirls of super-heroes’ by one US critic, is a cringe-inducing exercise in movie-making that appears to go out of its way to humiliate the talents of a former Oscar-winning actress, not to mention most of the other talented performers involved.

Halle Berry is the feline crime-fighter in question, a formerly timid advert designer, named Patience Philips, who stumbles upon a cosmetic giant’s attempts to cover-up the side-effects of its latest super-product (anti-ageing cream) and is promptly bumped off.

After being revived by a mysterious cat, however, Patience is reborn with a few extra gifts - strength, agility and ultra-keen senses, not to mention the ability to look good in a cat-suit that has conveniently been ripped in all the right places.

Catwoman is no Miss Goody Two-shoes, however, given that her seductive instincts constantly need to be satisfied, and she is constantly tip-toeing the line between good and bad.

But she has a score to settle and high on her list of priorities are the tyrannical owners of the cosmetics company, Hedare Beauty, in the form of husband-and-wife duo, George and Laurel Hedare (played by Lambert Wilson and Sharon Stone, respectively) - the couple responsible for her demise.

The fantasy thriller that results is a total cat-astrophe; a flat fur-ball of a movie that probably only deserves to be seen for being as bad as it is.

As directed by Pitof, who cut his teeth by providing the visual effects for movies such as City of Lost Children and Alien: Resurrection, Catwoman meanders its way towards an inevitable conclusion and seems to have been conceived more with a computer game in mind, than audience satisfaction.

Fetish-fans may dash to see Berry in tight-leather pants and brandishing a whip, but once the novelty has passed, followers of the actress will probably watch in dismay as she sets about humiliating herself with a series of increasingly absurd cat movements, while discovering a fondness for tuna and catnip.

Her chemistry with Benjamin Bratt’s over-earnest detective is virtually non-existent, while her physical prowess is hindered by Pitof’s over-reliance on CGI effects to create the action sequences. When compared to previous Catwomen (most notably Michelle Pfeiffer and Eartha Kitt), she fails dismally.

If the Spider-Man films represent a master-class in how to produce a good super-hero movie (great effects married with strong characterisation), then Catwoman is the A to Z of how not to do it.

Even the supposed messages behind the movie, about society’s obsession with beauty and the rise of power-hungry corporations, seem contrived given the uneven tone of proceedings - audiences simply cannot take anything seriously, even though the film hasn’t been designed as a tongue-in-cheek parody.

Pitof attempts to include many metaphors (the cat-suit is designed to represent female empowerment), but most fall by the wayside, especially since most of the feminist issues presented by the screenplay feel somewhat muted by the fact they have been delivered by an all-male writing team (John Brancato, Michael Ferris and John Rogers).

But I suppose that, at least, explains why this feels more like an overlong lingerie advert than any serious attempt at a super-hero movie.

This, at the end of the day, belongs with the kitty litter and looks set to test the Patience of even the most ardent Berry fan.

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