a critiQal film review Catwoman (2004)

Plot: Patience (Berry) has a job as an ad designer for a high-profile cosmetic company, she's got one close friend, she's single. Pretty normal...until the day she dies. After she is mysteriously "reborn", things start getting interesting. She's got to find out who killed her, figure out why she's alive again - and why she suddenly has heightened senses and reflexes. Oh yeah, she also gets framed for murder her first night out. To top it off, her new boyfriend (Bratt) is the cop hunting down her new other identity...

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  • ...interesting camera angles help give this movie a decent popcorn appeal - and a leather-clad Halle Berry doesn't hurt.

Of course, the previews were the first thing that got me interested in the latest superhero (or is that superheroine?) movie to come out – Catwoman. I mean, Halle Berry in a skin-tight leather suit!? Kind of a no-brainer for any guy. On top of that, it looked like they were totally revamping Catwoman for the new film – rather than just following in Michelle Pfeiffer’s Batman Returns (1992) footsteps.

It looked to be decent enough, but the only really good reason I had was Halle Berry in skin-tight leather. Call me shallow or whatever you will, that’s what attracted me most to Catwoman. Ah, but how to get Heather to go see it? Actually, that part turned out to be easy enough. Seems that the previews intrigued her enough that she wanted to go check it out as well.

So, when we noticed the local drive-in was doing a double feature of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) (which we both also wanted to see) and Catwoman, we were there the first night. Would the movie surprise me, and be worth seeing for reasons other than leather-clad Halle, or would Halle be the only good part of the film?

Halle has gotten on my good side again. After fighting off the grotesque images of her and Billy Bob from Monster’s Ball (2001), I was at first skeptic about whether I would ever be able to enjoy anything she was in again – or would those horrifying images keep resurfacing? Luckily for us, she came out with Gothika (2003). A perfect move, since it concentrated on the story – and she stayed fully clothed throughout. The break we viewers needed at just the right time.

With thoughts of Gothika (2003) in my head killing off the disturbing images of Monster’s Ball (2001), I felt I could approach a new Halle Berry film without an involuntary shudder passing along my spine. Turns out I was right.

As for her acting in Catwoman, well…not quite what the viewer expects after her great turn in Gothika (2003), but okay. She does have to spout a few cheesy lines here though, so it’s not entirely her fault, and she does seem to do the best with what she has.

Benjamin Bratt, who has pretty much disappeared since his stint on that TV Show (“Law & Order” (TV) I believe), comes back with a decent performance as the cop mixed up in Halle’s lives. He does a good job, and the chemistry between the two of them works out pretty well. Apparently his time off has done wonders for his career. Imagine that – usually it hurts someone’s career, not improves it.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Sharon Stone – although this role is perfect for her. Her character spends much of her screen time complaining that she’s been replaced by someone younger in the spotlight. Ironic, since that basically is what has happened to her in real life since her success during her Basic Instinct (1992) years. Added to that, her character (thanks to some dangerous makeup) has made her skin become tough as marble – and she looks the part, since she rarely makes any facial gestures at all in Catwoman.

She seems aloof and above it all – yet inside you can tell she’s wishing she could be the star of the show. As I said, the perfect role for Sharon at this stage of her career.

The plot is only so-so, since we’ve basically seen it done before, numerous times, but the directing is what makes this film enjoyable anyway. I’d never heard of the director before, but his quick pacing and great use of interesting shots and camera angles really add an extra excitement to Catwoman. Without this directing, the viewer would be much less interested, and start noticing the weak points of the film (bad dialogue, same-old plot, etc.). This could be the start of a great career for this new director – or he could have hit his pinnacle already. Let’s hope it’s just a start – I’m definitely looking forward to whatever movie he decides to helm next.

The special effects are impressive, with rarely any faults. Near the end, it’s rather obvious that they are using a computerized Halle at one point, but that’s pretty much a given anyway. With the amazing rate of speed and incredible agility that Catwoman displays in the film, there couldn’t have been any way that most of the scenes could have been done with anything but CGI. Having said that, however, the transition is so seamless it’s hard to tell where the real person stops and the CGI starts. A great blending of computers with real-life, and they got it right the first time (maybe you should have been given a bit more planning, Spidey, so you could look as good on screen as Catwoman does – at least blending-wise. She’s still got you beat in the looks department, easy).

This seems to be another case where a movie gets horrible reviews…and I think it’s great fun. Happened to DareDevil (2003), happened to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)…and now it’s happened to Catwoman.

Thanks to some great directing by newbie Pitof, Catwoman easily whips Spider-Man 2 (2004) in my book. The directing turns a so-so Halle Berry film into a fun popcorn movie that just happens to have a leather-clad Halle Berry in it.

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