R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Pitof
scr John Brancato, Michael Ferris, John Rogers
with Halle Berry, Benjamin Bratt, Sharon Stone, Lambert Wilson, Frances Conroy, Alex Borstein, Michael Massee, Byron Mann, Kim Smith, Christopher Heyerdahl, Peter Wingfield, Berend McKenzie
release US 23.Jul.04, UK 13.Aug.04
04/US 1h44
Meow! Berry suits up (above); Bratt and Stone

berry bratt stone
Catwoman - Halle Berry Support Shadows: Buy a Poster
There's a corny vibe to this film that almost makes it work ... until you realise it's unintentional. This a purely irrelevant summer action movie, the definition of style over substance--gratuitous action, ill-defined characters, goofy plot. And moments when it's great fun.

Patience Phillips (Berry) is a frazzled designer at the monolithic Hedare Cosmetics empire, where the bosses (Wilson and Stone) are clearly up to no good. On the eve of a revolutionary anti-aging product launch, Patience overhears something she shouldn't and is bumped off. But she's rescued from the jaws of death by an Egyptian Mau cat. Now she has a Jekyll/Hyde personality--ditsy Patience by day, vengeful Catwoman by night. But the lines are blurring. And the cop (Bratt) who's taken a fancy to Patience smells something fishy.

Pun intended. The fish jokes are my favourites, as Patience wolfs down tuna and sushi and stalks a tropical aquarium. And there are a lot of these touches that keep us chuckling, distracting us from the appalling storyline and wafer-thin characters. We have bits from lots of films--Batman's dark dreariness, Spider-man's roof-hopping, an old woman who explains it all (Conroy), and lots of sudden fight scenes just because they can.

Berry is clearly having a ball, and her infectious energy saves the film--from the awkward Patience to the out-of-control cat-crime to the more sleek and confident action that follows. Stone and Bratt are well-cast foils--befriending, falling in love, chasing her down, fighting her with no holds barred. Some of the stunt work is impressive, but the pure-CGI stuff is way overdone.

Pitof seems to think he's making a 30-second advert. He can't resist filling every shot with unnecessary effects and tricky camera movements that are almost as seasick-inducing as Berry's ferocious hip-swing. It's over-edited and very flashy, which wouldn't be a problem if there was something underneath. But the whole blessing/curse, feminine freedom, confidence-building subtext is merely mentioned in passing on the way to the next closeup of Berry's firm, leather-(semi)-clad body. As new-model spokeswoman Drina (Smith) says, "I think this is a total waste of time." But that's rather harsh.

cert 12 themes, violence, innuendo 2.Aug.04

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Catwoman Laurie T, Minneapolis: "We went to see this out of curiosity. This is not really a bad movie - I just would not say it is that good. It is silly, and Halle Barry looks great in her costume - which she said was a battle for 8 months of filming to keep getting in. But she looks really good in the costume. Sharon Stone is also looking quite good - and plays a good bad guy character. Throw in handsome Benjamin Bratt - and you got a good looking cast. I just did not really like this movie, and wish I had waited to check it out on cable." (28.Jul.04)

KenR, Mbabane, Swaziland: 3/5 "Well, of course the film is silly--how can anyone take a cartoon character like catwoman seriously (cf the rubbish written about the wonders of spiderman)--but it's great fun. And the great thing is that this character doesn't try to be a hero but has a good side and a bad side, like the rest of us. Also, the bad guys are real, not freaks with eight arms or masks; and the love interest knows from early on who the masked woman is! Catwoman is a refreshing blast." (8.Jan.05)

Joyce Gosnell, net: "I can honestly say this was great! They were not even comparing Halle with anyone.They just tried to explain the history of the Catwoman. I loved it!" (15.Sep.05)

2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall