Directed by: Pitof
Written by: John Brancato, Michael Ferris, John Rogers
Starring: Halle Berry, Benjamin Bratt, Lambert Wilson, Frances Conroy, Sharon Stone
Depending on various reasons, some films do not deserve the negative reputation they have received over the years. Whether it be unjust marketing or a shift in perspective through time, opinions may shift on what may be considered bombs. Unfortunately, Catwoman does not fall in this range and instead proves to deserve all the ridicule it has received since its release.
Shy and quiet, Patience Phillips (Halle Berry) works as an artist for a beauty company, where she accidentally discovers their new formula will cause long-lasting damage to its users. After being killed for what she knows, she gets resurrected with powers similar to a cat and decides to get her revenge.
Talking about the failure of Catwoman can tend to lean towards the comical because the sheer incompetence of this film reaches a level where I feel bad for the people involved. Their intention in making this film put a Black woman in the lead role of a prominent comic book character. Halle Berry was working at the height of her powers in the early 2000s, including winning Best Actress in the same year as this atrocity made its way to theaters. Everyone entered the production with great intentions like all films, but its failure has truly become a marvel.
Patience gets set up as awkward and not confident despite having the looks of Halle Berry. Despite her meekness, she still steps up to the occasion, when she sees a cat standing on a ledge on the side of her building. Instead of calling for help like literally any normal person, she decides to step out and try to save it. Things expectedly do not go as planned and she gets saved by the hunky Tom Lone (Benjamin Bratt). He comments on what we all thought at that moment, which revolves around why she would go out there to save a cat she has not seen before. This scene becomes integral because it dictates why she becomes the chosen one by this cat to receive cat-like powers. It comes right before she gets disposed of because of what she witnesses.
After receiving these powers, Patience gets a new sense of confidence in the way she acts and speaks. I guess it took having some cat DNA in her body for her to realize she looks like Halle Berry. With this infusion of cat DNA in her, she becomes to act more like a cat in comical ways. Some examples include hissing at dogs barking at her, uncontrollably eating fish, and being attracted to catnip. Now, I understand this would happen because of her transformation but the way the film portrays these scenes look so funny in the strangest sense.
Her confidence gets put on display when she plays Tom in a 1-on-1 basketball game in front of a group of kids. Sure, this could make for a fun sequence of her new skills granted by the cat DNA, but everything about this scene comically goes wrong. Her new display of skills consists of 50% throwing the ball from one hand to the other captured in such an odd way. When she finally puts the ball to the court, the sequence displays a level of sensuality that would make sense because of the increased attraction between these two but they’re doing this in front of kids. Patience and Tom are mostly grinding on each other and the camera knows it because of the way it fixates on them. I am truly confused about what they tried to display with this scene.
If any message tries to fly out of this dumpster fire, it comes from the danger of vanity and greed by corporations. The villain of the feature is Laurel Hedare (Sharon Stone), who used to be the face of her and her husband’s beauty company but she’s recently been pushed aside because she’s on the wrong side of 40. This legitimately remains an issue in businesses fixated on looks where women even as beautiful as Sharon Stone get tossed aside when a younger model takes the stage. However, the direction the film takes this villain and what this new beauty cream does to people genuinely makes no sense whatsoever that when they fully explain everything, you just have to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all.
With its deficiency in the story and other factors considered, still the most shocking deficiency comes in the animation of Catwoman in her fights. This shows 2000s visual effects at its worst where she jumps on the walls, runs around, and leaps off of buildings. It simply looks horrifying and it has certainly gotten worse with more time since its release. The titular character becomes plastic in those sequences and it gets worse as the film progresses, imagine that.
Catwoman lives up to its horrifying infamy in the way it takes an interesting character and makes a complete mockery out of her. I enjoy puns as much as anyone but even these could not save the wreckage this film has created. In all my years thus far, I have never met a defender of this film with good reason, because we can all agree on the lack of quality within this production.