Catwoman (2004) — This kitty is all out of lives

“What a purrrfect idea!”

Rich’s rating: C’mon — someone had to do it.

Rich’s review: You see the lengths I go to for you people? Ever since people had heard the first rumblings of a Catwoman movie, there was a feeling of disaster in the air. When the first stills appeared, things looked grimmer. When the teaser trailer was released, and then immediately pulled due to overwhelming negative reaction, the vultures began to circle. By release date, even people who had lived in Tibetan caves for the majority of their lives knew that Catwoman was going to suck like no other film had sucked before.

Did that deter me? Hell no. In my opinion, if a film is going to suck as badly as it looked like Catwoman was going to, the only way to get the full experience is to see it on the big screen. And so, despite the universal feeling amongst my friends that I had some kind of mental sickness, I willingly forked over my £5.50, took my ticket with pride, and if my paying to see it somehow helps Catwoman’s box office takings enough to justify a sequel, I say “Bring it on,” because I will be laughing my ass off all the way though that one too.

Before I even contemplate marching headlong into the hilarious “plot” for Catwoman, let me describe to you my experience watching it at a movie theatre, which will hopefully give you an idea of just how bad a film this is. I went to see Catwoman at our local multiplex the night after opening night in the UK, at 7:00 pm on a Saturday evening, usually primetime for the cinema viewing population. As it was a big new release, it was shown on one of the Multiplexes large (as opposed to merely medium size) capacity screens. When I got in with my drink and popcorn, there were precisely 11 other people in the entire theatre. No-one else came in.

30 minutes into the film, the first couple left. 15 minutes later, and the second couple leave, leaving precisely eight people in a 400+ seat movie theatre.

Shortly after, I begin to chuckle uncontrollably. I didn’t stop till the film ended. In fact, I didn’t stop all the way through the cinema foyer and back to my car. That’s quite how bad Catwoman is.

It’s almost impossible to pin down exactly why Catwoman is such a bad film. It’s not because it’s hard to spot the flaws, but because there are so damn many of them you just can’t blame any one thing. To begin with, I think there might have been a mix-up at the place where they collate the scripts, and Catwoman ended up with half a dozen scenes from Waiting to Exhale and She’s All That in it. I mean, seriously, for an alleged “superhero” film, Catwoman sure does spend a lot of time transforming herself from a klutzy shy artist to a Fully Independent Woman™ complete with hot cop boyfriend and obligatory sassy R&B soundtrack.

Secondly, as far as heroism is concerned, Catwoman isn’t exactly being pushed to her limits in this film. I mean, while Spider-Man is defeating crazy super scientist Norman Osbourne, and the X-Men are saving the world against Magneto, Catwoman’s heroic accomplishments in this film include stopping the music at a loud party, rescuing a child from a broken Ferris Wheel, and ultimately facing her nemesis — a 40-year-old model who’s addicted to face-cream. That’s a real tall order right there for a woman who can run up walls, leap like Spider-Man, and can bust out her Catwoman Kung Fu Action on demand.

On top of that, the overarching plot is like the stuff of crack-induced Hollywood hallucinations. The Hedare Company, international salon extraordinaire, are about to market their new beauty product, Beauline, the face cream that actually reverses the effects of aging. However, what they’re not telling you is that if you stop using it your face melts, it’s addictive, it gives you headaches and fainting fits and to top it all off, after protracted use it turns your skin into supertough marble-type skin. Nice catch there by the Quality Control people.

However, crazed model and part-owner of Hedare, Laurel Hedare (Sharon Stone) is determine to release it, despite it being about as safe as smearing arsenic on your face, and when ditzy advertising artist for the company Patience Price (Halle Berry) finds out that Beauline isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, Laurel has her killed by flushing her down a giant toilet to her doom, only for her to be brought back to life by a magical cat as Catwoman.

No, that’s really what happens. Stop laughing.

I could go on and on and on. The dialogue is hilariously bad, featuring horribly clichéd one-liners, the obligatory gloating villain speech, the misunderstood hero’s impassioned plea, and so on. There’s the inevitable “I’ve just got superpowers so I best run from rooftop to rooftop to show off all this great CGI we’ve spent money on.” Like all superhero movies, this one takes half the film just to get the characters origin story out of the way — I mean come on guys, we came to see “Catwoman” not “Halle Berry is the Shy But Talented Artist!” Every character in the film apart from Catwoman and her studly Cop Hunk are completely 2-D, the “grand conspiracy” is about as threatening to the population of the world as Spongebob Squarepants, and every scene either seems completely pointless or hopelessly rushed.

The final nail in Catwoman’s coffin is that someone already made nearly the exact same film (except better and more interesting) ten years ago, another comic book adaptation in which the protagonist is killed, returned to life by an animal, loses their memory but gains superpowers, and proceeds to extract their revenge on the people who killed them. It’s called The Crow, and it’s infinitely superior to Catwoman in every way imaginable.

In spite of all this, am I telling you to avoid Catwoman like a plague infested corpse? Not a bit of it. Go see it. Go see it twice. As many times as you can, in fact. Because, as you stare in horror at the screen, there’s a certain feeling of euphoria that hits you. It somehow pushes through the “I can’t believe how bad this film is” barrier into the oft-uncharted realms of Unintentional Comedy, and if you’re anything like me, it might even be the funniest film you see all year.

Sue’s rating: Note to fellow Mutants. THIS is what happens when you get behind on your submissions!

Sue’s review: Along with Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2, Catwoman is round two of my mea culpa for reallllly sloughing off on my duties here at Mutant Reviewers. Now, I could blame Justin for this — and he wouldn’t mind, because I bet he wishes he’d thought of it first — but believe me when I say that this is entirely self-inflicted.

I am a very sick woman.

Anyway, as I sat through Catwoman — and it took me three tries and the eventual application of five-point restraints to do it — something occurred to me. Oh, not that this movie stinks even more than my son’s laundry hamper. I already knew that. No, what came to my mind was a simple and tragic epiphany.

This is not Patience Price’s fault.

Okay, bear with me here and tell me you disagree if you dare. Bruce Wayne had Alfred, a wise sage of a butler who could guide him through issues of morality and justice. Clark Kent had Jor-El’s entire video collection of interstellar historical documentaries and an interactive tutorial system complete with ice palace. (I used to have a Speak ‘n Spell. Same idea really.) Peter Parker had the ever present tea, cookies and occasional toe-the-line whipcrackings from sweet Aunt May.

Patience got some weird old bag who stuck a catnip toy in her face and lectured her about empowerment.

Boy, that didn’t give her much to work with, did it?

As far as the movie goes, I mean, what can be said? I’d like to find some redeemable quality here, but… what am I supposed to say? The sewage strewn beach looked real enough to make Al Gore twitch all over? Benjamin Bratt has lovely teeth? I like basketball too?

That’s about all I’ve got. I’m a dog person.

I mean, by far the most beautifully ironic part of Catwoman was the scene where the scientist (Peter Wingfield playing Dr. Ivan Slavicky — the name of several apparent pronunciations,) said, “I don’t care that the FDA never saw the headaches and the nausea, the-the fainting spells! Those are symptoms I can live with!” From the producers’ mouths to the consumers’ ears, my friends. Although I didn’t actually faint. I wouldn’t have minded fainting.

On the other hand, I’ve always thought that I’ve become a better writer of fiction over the years because I have read absolute metric tons of literary garbage. Maybe, someday, I’ll discover that I’m a better movie reviewer because I went through this? Well, probably not really, but so far that rationalization is keeping “the voices” away.

Greyhounds make excellent pets.

Didja Notice?

  • Painted coffee-to-go cups mean never having to say you’re sorry.
  • How much better Catwoman looks in her first costume?
  • If you stand in front of a mirror with some scissors, seconds later you have a salon-style haircut.
    If my girlfriend leapt 6 feet from a standing start to dunk on me at basketball, I’d start to get suspicious.
  • The cops’ revolutionary ‘Lipstick-Photo-Glass-Matching’ technology.
  • Quite how gullible Catwoman really is?
  • The return of the Merovingian in the guise of a Cosmetic Company Mogul! Being in Catwoman, it’s like wiping your arse with silk. Probably.
  • If you’re trying not to get caught by the police for theft, leaving them samples of your handwriting isn’t a great idea.
  • Hiding in sewage pipes with one door that can be sealed from the outside? Not the world’s greatest escape plan.
  • Catwoman’s ability to defy the laws of physics with a single pelvic thrust?
  • A picture of Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman from Batman Returns can be seen in the pile of old catwomen
  • How many modern city jails have open air windows so that cats can just walk in through the bars to visit inmates? I’m guessing, not many. I mean, what do they do in the winter?
  • Wasn’t “Frankie” a little young to be on a ferris wheel all by himself? Not to mention the height restrictions!
    Wouldn’t working on a major jewelry heist mean not having to work on a murder case? I mean, is Lane the only detective they have? Is it a budget crunch? That would explain the lack of windows, I guess.
  • When a man in a Jaguar doesn’t run you over, it’s not nice to knock him down and steal his car.
  • When a major product is about to be launched, it’s sent to the retailers far in advance, not the night before. (And they probably use more than six or seven trucks for shipping.)

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