We currently live in a time where a female character can headline a superhero movie pretty much like it’s a normal, everyday thing. Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, Harley Quinn, The Wasp and Black Widow are all marquee names now, with many more on the way and their success in the field of saving the day thankfully isn’t (or shouldn’t) be measured by how horny they make some dude online…
Of course, it wasn’t always this way and even before Marvel’s Electra pulled off the impressive feat of making the world’s greatest assassin as boring as dull grey ditch water, DC turned out the stunningly awful Catwoman that seemed to put the female superhero movie in arrested development for years. After all, let us not forget that this is the movie that led to the infamous moment when Halle Berry turned up to collect her Razzie Award IN PERSON and proceeded to give a speech, thanking the producers for casting her in “this piece of shit”.
Ouch. Kitty’s got claws…
Patience Phillips is a timid graphic designer who works for a cosmetics company under an odious boss who is getting ready to release a revolutionary new moisture cream out to the public. Being as she’s so meek and shit and because her boss is such a record breaking turd, Patience finds herself having to deliver her designs by hand and overhears that the long awaited product, Beau-line, actually causes horrific scarring if usage is stopped and is shot at and eventually drowned after she is spotted during her inadvertent snoop. However, a bunch of cats gather round her washed up corpse and, instead of eating her face, resurrect her with their supernatural pussy-powers and she stumbles home like a drunken ladette with no memory of the incident. During the next few days, Patience notices she’s obtained a couple of extra skills she never had before, such as being super nimble, enhanced eyesight and reactions and an inability to take any more bullshit from dummy men and she starts to finally come out of her shell. However, possibly over compensating for all those years of being quiet, Patience’s new identity expresses itself by robbing a damn bank which put her on the radar of Detective Tom Lone who nonetheless feels an attraction to Patience.
Getting her memory back, Patience finally assumes that it was her old boss who attempted to obliterate one of her lives back when she only had a single one to give and she launched a campaign to stop the launch of Beau-line before it’s too late, but it’s actually his wife, Laurel who’s responsible for the conspiracy – and to make matters worse, her excessive use of Beau-line has made her skin as tough as living marble. Can this newly minted Catwoman halt this carelessly conceived – well, I don’t want to say plan exactly – and save the day, or will she just spend her day selfishly pushing ornaments off the coffee table and sleeping on the radiator?
Rumours of a Catwoman spinoff had been rubbing up the scratching post as early as 1992 in the wake of Michelle Pfeiffer’s eye-popping turn in Batman Returns, but any version they could have come up with surely would have been better than this. Possibly one of the worst comic book movies ever made – and certainly the worst female led one – Catwoman took the sizable responsibility it had (not just a female lead, but a black female lead with a budget of $100 million was unheard of at the time) and proceeded to aggressively piss it up the wall with all the style and panache of an angry bed wetter.
The director, an ex-visual effects supervisor Pitof (because director-nicknames worked so well for McG), seems to have absolutely no idea how to set up the basics of a scene; actors reaction shots regularly rely on random, jarring close-ups that give you motion sickness despite the fact the camera’s completely static. However, when the camera does move you’d think it was strapped to a Olympic gymnast the way it’s swung about with nauseating abandon.
Everything is shot with a distracting, hazy glare which looks like everyone’s been given that weird, glowy, CG de-aging effect that they kept giving “young” Patrick Stewart and Ian Mckellen in the earlier X-Men movies and after a while it starts to resemble that intense thing that happens to your eyesight when you’re really tired. Oh, and while we’re on the subject, I don’t know who exactly the excruciatingly jarring editing is suppose to appeal to either, but it’s the equivalent of trying to concentrate while your cat does that weird thing when it dashes all over your house at two in the morning like a fucking lunatic and it makes following the simplistic plot suprisingly tough.
Oh Christ, the plot… Of all the villainous plots the filmmakers could have chosen to give a female superhero to thwart, the decision to have the two female leads essentially fight over makeup is especially galling – if not fairly offensive – but then what do you expect from a film that deems you unfit to save the world unless you’re wearing a costume that gets your navel out and has you showing 1/4 of your arse… Just because you have a female led superhero film it doesn’t mean you have to go all-out on girl power, it just means you have to tell an honest story and treat your audience with respect but the way it’s portrayed here feels like the male writers and directors got all their research for female empowerment from listening to someone badly explain the plot of Sex In The City and then watching Brittany Spears music videos.
If you actually needed any actual proof of this, Patience’s “entourage” include a ridiculously sex-obsessed bbf (who uses a hospital’s internal phone to make personal gossip calls – hilarious!) and one gay man who only pops up in one scene.
The actors do what they can but even Halle Berry can’t salvage the low-grade hooker look this film has saddled Catwoman with and all the crouches and poses can’t add any gravity to the weightless travesty of the awful CGI and turgid fight scenes. Similarly, Sharon Stone just seems happy to be on set, but obviously has caught a wiff of the pure shit she’s been cast in and so acts accordingly.
As the film zig-zags to it’s dopey conclusion you have to give a modicum of respect to the overhaul of the character’s origin from a jewel thief who occasionally stops crime (sometimes), to having a whole supernatural lineage that could connected every Catwoman every portrayed but then amazingly terrible scenes come along to ruin it, like Berry frenziedly snorting at a clump of catnip or an agonisingly bad scene where Berry takes on Benjamin Bratt in a sexually charged game of one-on-one basketball in front of a group of kids (?) makes the see-saw flirt/fight scene in Daredevil look like fucking From Here To Eternity.
Successfully putting the female superhero movie into arrested development until Wonder Woman confidently strode into No Man’s Land in 2017 (even Black Widow was technically a sex object in Iron Man 2), Catwoman could have been the film to break all the rules but once again the filmmakers forgot to target the right audience…
For a film who’s main character is ironically called Patience, Catwoman will brutally test yours and leave you “feline” like you’ve had more than enough.