Catwoman (2004)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Catwoman</strong> (2004)

(On TV, December 2015)  Ow!  Catwoman was almost universally panned upon release, which convinced me not to see it in theatres and then proceed to forget all about it.  But it still lurks in the basement-like depths of late-night cable TV channels, ready to pounce on anyone curious enough to have a look.  Yes, it’s just about as bad as you’ve been told: Executed at a time when it was finally possible to distinguish a good comic-book movie from a terrible one, Catwoman now looks, a decade later, like one of the last gasps of the pre-MCU way of making awful movies based on comic book characters.  This Catwoman stands alone, bereft of the DC comics continuity or even the privilege of taking place in Gotham City.  She shares a few traits in common with far better-appreciated media Catwomen (Pfeiffer and Kitt, most notably) but otherwise laboriously goes through yet another boring origin story as if we hadn’t seen enough of them already.  It doesn’t feel like a Catwoman film as much as a very forgettable action movie.  It’s all in the execution, of course, and while director Pitof has an ambitious eye for special effects (some of the sequences are well designed, even if the delivery now look far better in low resolution), he’s not particularly good at telling a story, or even maintaining a sustained tone throughout an entire film.  If you keep hearing about “the basketball scene” from reviewers, it’s because it’s a special scene… best seen than described.  The supernatural mythology of the film is all over the place without a bit of central focus, the plot holes are plentiful, the so-called feminist overtones of the film (Criticism against cosmetics! Female-versus-female showdown!) are petrified by the male-gaze aspect of Catwoman’s strutting and the costume is more puzzling than sexy.  Speaking of which, Halle Berry is just about the only person who emerges from the film with some dignity: She gives her performance some warmth early on, and some energy in the latter half.  Take away her performance and some of the special effects sequences, and Catwoman is barely better than a direct-to-cable action film, with mediocre dialogue, formulaic storytelling and muddled action sequences.  I should have listened to the reviewers and stayed away, even eleven years later.

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