Starring: Halle Berry, Benjamin Bratt, Sharon Stone
Running Time: 104 mins
Catwoman is an American film about a woman who, after being mysteriously revived by a group of cats, develops strange, cat-like abilities and powers, which she uses to fight a conspiracy emanating from the top ranks of the beauty company she works at.
Somehow proving both hilariously awful and extremely boring at the same time, Catwoman is an absolute mess of a film, with a ridiculous, non-sensical and underwhelming plot that combines with garish music video-style directing, a terrible lead performance from Halle Berry, and a total waste of the intrigue that a Catwoman solo movie could provide, all of which makes up for a film that’s pretty much a failure whichever way you look.
Let’s start with the most disappointing thing about the film, and that’s its misuse of the character of Catwoman. Although the movie intends to offer up a story that’s different to the one that’s been told again and again over the years, it completely rids the character of the ambiguous villain-hero status that actually makes her one of the more interesting superheroes out there, and has been successfully demonstrated on many other occasions, particularly by Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns.
The story follows a timid woman who, after being revived by a group of random cats, discovers an incredible awakening that not only gives her superpowers, but also opens her up to being a far more forward and terrifyingly sensual person. However, while the movie is happy to put focus on the variations of lycra that she chooses to wear, it completely wastes any opportunity to look deeper into the character, as such making for a rather unlikable and deeply uninteresting hero throughout.
Along with that, the movie’s story is painfully underwhelming, not only following a generic superhero origin story formula at pretty much every moment, but also featuring some of the most pointless stakes I’ve ever seen in a comic book movie, as Catwoman goes up against nothing more than a beauty company that’s selling some dodgy anti-ageing cream, making for a tedious watch as you never really care about the final outcome.
That’s what makes the film so boring, but there’s also another side to it, the so-bad-it’s-good vibe. Now, while the movie is occasionally good fun to laugh at, there’s no denying that it’s a completely frantic and ludicrous mess, most significantly in its ridiculously hyperactive music video-esque style.
Although it does occasionally pop with a good, rapid-paced energy, the movie is a visually garish and dizzying watch, with camerawork that never sits still, backed up by an infuriating and incessant house backing track that not only gives the movie a hilariously dated feel, but also adds to the frantic and messy nature of it all.
On top of that, the film is peppered with some of the most moronic action sequences you’ll ever see, with terrible fight choreography that feels all the more underwhelming with the movie’s forced excitement through that hyperactive camerawork, as well as one particularly bizarre love/action/sports scene in which we see Catwoman and her love interest play basketball, and in the process do some flirting as well as using superpowers – indicative of the general messiness and incoherence of the movie as a whole.
And finally, we come to the performance from Halle Berry. Although she’s a perfectly likable lead for the first twenty minutes or so, when she’s playing a normal, timid woman who hasn’t been revived by ancient Egyptian cats and given feline superpowers, things take a turn for the ridiculous when she gets into her superhero guise.
The movie tries to paint the origin story as a period of personal awakening for the main character, as she becomes more confident and forward with her new persona, however it’s all made a little too cartoonish with Berry’s shrill and comical performance. She’s not helped at all by dialogue that would be out of place in a cracker joke, but she really puts on a ridiculous persona here that’s totally unwarranted, and not indicative of the real acting talent that she can be.
Overall, Catwoman is an absolutely ridiculous mess of a film, both a hilariously awful watch that’s complete with a stupid story, hyperactive and dizzying visuals and a now painfully dated vibe, as well as a genuinely tedious and underwhelming film that features pointless stakes and a hugely disappointing take on the classic comic book character of Catwoman, and that’s why I’m giving this film a 3.5.