A lot of the time, movie trailers can be deceptive. In the 60 or so seconds a film preview has, an upcoming film can look promising, but turn out to be a dud when the final product is released to the general public. Witness the recent The Bourne Supremacy, King Arthur and I, Robot. Catwoman however actually delivers on what was promised in its previews – a truly horrific film experience from start to finish.
Patience Philips (Halle Berry) is a shy, sensitive woman who works as a graphic designer for Hedare Beauty, a mammoth cosmetics company on the verge of releasing a revolutionary anti-aging product. When Patience happens upon a secret that the wife of her employer (Sharon Stone, employing enough computer effects to power a Star Wars film to hide her facial wrinkles) is hiding, she finds herself in the middle of a corporate conspiracy. Yes kids, a conspiracy in the cosmetics industry. Paging Oliver Stone!
Curiosity killed the cat, and Patience is picked off for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. As luck would have it, she is transformed into a woman with the strength, speed, agility and ultra-keen senses of a cat, allowing her to become Catwoman, a sleek, stealthy and schizo creature balancing between good and bad. Her situation is complicated by a budding relationship with Tom Lone (Benjamin Bratt), a cop who has fallen for Patience (and who seems to have the ability to materialise anywhere at the drop of a hat) but cannot shake his fascination with the mysterious Catwoman, who appears to be responsible for a string of crimes plaguing the city.
I’m not going to go into great detail as to what works and what doesn’t in this film because quite simply, nothing does. The acting is atrocious by one and all, leading one to wonder if perhaps it is time to take away that Best Actress Oscar from Berry and tell Sharon Stone that her 15 minutes in the spotlight ended… about 10 years ago. Lambert Wilson, as Stone’s husband, is as equally awful as he was in the Matrix sequels; Six Feet Under‘s Frances Conroy is laughably bad as the woman who explains the mystery of Catwomen to Patience; and Alex Borstein is cringe-inducing as the pudgy, horny co-worker of Patience’s who has clearly seen one too many Sex And The City episodes.
The director – someone named Pitof (which sounds more like a botulism-filled sandwich from a fast-food restaurant), – seems to be far more fascinated by camera tricks, visual effects and epileptic editing than he is in creating any sort of coherent piece of film-making (big surprise: he was a visual effects artist before he started directing). He creates a coherent piece of something all right, but it has nothing to do with filmmaking.
Catwoman is a film that has been in development hell for 12 years, ever since the character slinked across the screen in Tim Burton’s brooding 1992 winner, Batman Returns. It was a supporting character, naturally, but thanks to Michelle Pfeiffer’s great performance and Daniel Waters’ screenplay, she became the highlight and emotional centre of the movie. When they couldn’t get these three back to make this film, they would have been wise to let the project fade into obscurity. Instead, we got this cinematic war crime instead.
Catwoman is one feline that needs to be put to sleep immediately.