Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. USA/Australia, 2004. Warner Bros., Village Roadshow Pictures, DiNovi Pictures, Frantic Films, Maple Shade Films, Catwoman Films. Story by Theresa Rebeck, John D. Brancato, Michael Ferris, Screenplay by John D. Brancato, Michael Ferris, John Rogers, based on characters created by Bob Kane. Cinematography by Thierry Arbogast. Produced by Denise Di Novi. Music by Klaus Badelt. Production Design by Bill Brzeski. Costume Design by Angus Strathie. Film Editing by Sylvie Landra.
All hail Pussy Power! This movie is tacky and way too mired in cheesy modern action movie cliches, not to mention it has an incredibly bland leading lady, but Bob Kane’s original comic book creation is a character so delightfully indestructible that no manner of interpretation can ruin her. Halle Berry plays a lonely, geeky advertising artist who works for a giant cosmetics company run by a tyrannical millionaire (Lambert Wilson) and his estranged model wife (Sharon Stone). When Berry discovers that the company’s new beauty product is chemically addictive in nature and corrupts women’s skin if they stop using it, she is killed by Stone’s goons in an effort to cover up their dirty secret and not interrupt production. Thankfully, a mysterious Egyptian cat resurrects Berry as a cat-aclysmic superpower, with the ability to sniff rain before it falls and go crazy when catnip or fishtanks are anywhere nearby. After a brief period of awkward adjustment, Berry dons a sexy leather outfit and goes after her former boss in an effort to get revenge for having been bumped off. The film, which is mostly silly fun and not in any way objectionable, succeeds in continuing to have Catwoman constantly ride the uncomfortable line between heroism and villainy, though not nearly as dangerously as Michelle Pfeiffer did in Tim Burton’s terrific Batman Returns. The setup for both women is the same, but Pfeiffer’s cat-astrophic heroine really did work out her alter ego’s neuroses when she donned the suit and cowl: in her first fight she beat up a guy who was attacking a woman and then did a number on the victim for being weak and desperate, something she obviously hated in herself. Here the development is a lot more shallow (and therefore not all that interesting), with Berry beating up the guy who has been playing his music too loud in the next apartment building, something she formerly would never have done (oh yay, power to the girlfriend). The rest of her time she poses and flicks her whip a lot, without the character ever reaching any kind of emotional boil. Stone is a hell of a lot more fun, stealing the camera’s attention every time her flawlessly beautiful image is on screen and providing for a delicious villain no matter how uninspiring her nemesis is. No matter how flawed, though, it does allow some manner of fun and could definitely be improved towards a superior sequel should the director be replaced and the lead actress be given a personality download.