Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


CATWOMAN (2004). Director: Pitof [sic].

You're just a little girl playing dress up.”

Catwoman was originally introduced decades ago in the pages of the Batman comic book, where she was first known as “the cat” after the cat's head mask she wore. Over the years she's gone through many changes in costume and attitude, and has been both a major villainess as well as an ally of the Caped Crusader. She was eventually given her own comic book. In this film adaptation the word “Batman” is never mentioned, and Catwoman is no longer a stylish cat burglar named Selina Kyle. She has been re-envisioned as a timid artist named Patience Phillips (Halle Berry) who overhears something she shouldn't and is killed by the bad guys. Luckily a cat who personifies the cat god comes along and literally breathes life into Patience; she is reborn as a much stronger woman who is essentially good but plays by her own rules. Tracking down the people who killed her and who ordered the hit (a married couple who run the corporation she works for), Catwoman runs into and romances a likable cop breezily played by Benjamin Bratt. She learns that her bosses are marketing a face cream that will eventually make women addicted to it and which has an extremely toxic effect. Sharon Stone plays the female half of the company chiefs and the climax is a rousing “bitch-fight” between her and Catwoman. While it takes much too long for Berry to finally become Catwoman and for the action to start, once it gets in gear the picture is quite entertaining. The direction is often a little too “rock video” for my taste, but the picture gets points for its striking art direction. The film is well-acted by all the leads, and the fine supporting players include Alex Borstein as Patience's amusing man-crazy friend Sally, and Lambert Wilson as Stone's sinister husband. The DVD features some scenes that were cut. One of them, a sequence of Catwoman being tracked by a killer dog in a junkyard after her re-birth, is excellent and should never have been left on the cutting room floor.

Verdict: Not great but not bad. **1/2.

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