J.D. Lafrance
Catwoman DVD Review


August 10, 2005

Director: Pitof, ,
Starring: Halle Berry, Benjamin Bratt, Lambert Wilson, Frances Conroy, Sharon Stone, Alex Borstein, Kim Smith, Michael Masse, ,

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DVD Review

J.D. Lafrance

Ever since the success of Batman Returns (1992), Warner Brothers has been trying to get a spin-off movie for the Catwoman character off the ground. Michelle Pfeiffer’s take on the comic book character was a hit with audiences and critics but she never capitalized on that success with her own movie. It was always seen as a missed opportunity but after seeing Catwoman (2004) with Halle Berry, maybe Pfeiffer was smart to turn down the movie.

Patience Philips (Berry) designs ads for a beauty cream product manufactured by a large corporation ruled with an iron eye-liner by a husband and wife team, George (Wilson) and Laurel (Stone) Hedare. The anti-aging cream supposedly turns back the years but has some nasty side effects, the least of which is its addictive nature and habit of causing migraines. George and Laurel obviously want to keep this a secret and so when Patience finds out by accident they send henchmen after her and she drowns in the city sewers trying to escape. Once her dead body surfaces, she is resurrected by the bad breath of a painfully obvious CGI-created kitty cat.

Patience awakens with new cat-like abilities. She falls from any height and is able to land on her hands and feet, she has an uncanny feline-like agility and flexibility, and is irresistibly drawn to cat nip. After telling off George and getting fired as a result, she embraces her inner cat and by night dons a leather outfit to fight crimes and by day romances a hunky cop (Bratt, sadly not reprising his role from Law and Order). Before you can open a can of Friskies, Patience is decked out in home-made fetish gear bent on exacting revenge on the people responsible for her death.

Halle Berry was miscast in this role. She is hard to believe as a mousy fashion victim cum wallflower who is marginalized by her boss and can’t even muster up the courage to tell her noisy neighbours to keep their music down. If she were alive today, Aaliyah would have been perfect in this role not a veteran, Academy Award-winning actress like Berry. Her post-Monster’s Ball career has been spotty at best and this film doesn’t help avoid the traditional post-Academy Award winning curse that seems to afflict so many actors (Kim Basinger, Kevin Spacey, Nicolas Cage, et al).

Catwoman was originally touted as comeback of sorts for Sharon Stone, who was once a red-hot, in demand actress in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s but has fallen on hard times as of late. She must’ve identified with Laurel, a past-her-prime model feeling the heat from younger, more beautiful models on their way up. However, Stone just looks tired and bored throughout most of the movie. She should have been given more screen-time and the opportunity to vamp it up. She does a bit towards the end but by then it is too little, too late as she’s wasted in this throwaway role.

Catwoman is plagued with clunky and lame dialogue that is not even bad in a fun, campy way. The screenplay (written by three credited people—not a good sign) is riddled with little nagging omitted details. For example, once Patience is fired from her job what does she do for money? Has she found a new job? Is she even looking for one? The script doesn’t bother to address these issues and this comes across as just sloppy writing that, apparently, three screenwriters couldn’t figure out. It’s a shame because there are a few interesting ideas buried within. There is the notion that fake beauty is toxic and that we should enjoy who we are and how we look and not try to be something we aren’t and can never be. But this message is lost in this mess of a movie.

Special Features:

“The Many Faces of Catwoman” is a fun, 30-minute look at the history of the character, hosted by Eartha Kitt. This doc traces her development through comic books, TV and film over the years and how her look has evolved as well. Included are interviews with previous Catwomen, Kitt, Julie Newmar, Lee Meriwether and Michelle Pfeiffer as well as comic book writers and artists.

“Behind-the-Scenes Documentary” is standard press kit material that relies heavily on clips from the movie.

There are also five additional scenes totaling six minutes and include more time devoted between the romance between Patience and Bratt’s cop.

Finally, there is a theatrical trailer.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance


Rating: 49%



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