Film Reviews

CATWOMAN

By • Jul 23rd, 2004 •

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Warner Bros. Pictures in association with Village Roadshow Pictures presents a Di Novi Pictures production
PG-13 / 104 minutes

QUOTE: This cat doesn’t purr.

CATWOMAN’S director, Pitof, is very talented. He certainly gave the film an interesting look. But the story is old and trite. Haven’t we seen this cosmetic-as-evil-killer tale a hundred times before? Hey, wasn’t there a similar story in a BATMAN movie?

Patience Philips (Halle Berry) is a bullied graphics artist who wears the same crummy clothes every day. The big company she works for, Hedare Beauty, is run by creamy arch-villain George Hedare (Lambert Wilson) and his discarded wife Laurel (Sharon Stone). She is forty years old and no longer the face of the cosmetics company. She is bitter and a real drama queen. She poses. Laurel is such an egomaniac that anyone would hate her. I actually sympathized with her rude, bitch of a husband. Together they have created an anti-aging cream, Beau-line, that must be used every day or your face rots. (So? What’s the problem? People, it stops the aging process! That’s worth a few severe headaches now and then!) Patience stumbles on the negative side-effects (you can’t quit using the product or else) and is murdered, only to be reborn as Catwoman through the interference of an Egyptian cat named Midnight who has special powers. There have been others. They are all over but there is no sisterhood.

All this cat history is explained to Patience by cat lady Ophelia (Frances Conroy). I wanted to shove a hairball down her throat.

Wouldn’t it have been fun if Laurel Hedare turned out to be AlleyCat Woman?

Catwoman has a distinctly different personality from Patience. She’s a strutting hellcat! She’s a kitten with a whip! She pounces, she purrs, she hisses. She leaps and she steals. She doesn’t regally lounge around or spends hours licking herself. She wouldn’t follow anyone home who has a treat for her.

Screenwriters John Brancato and Mike Ferris just could not make viable characters out of Patience or Catwoman. Patience is your typical oppressed worker-bee who is clumsy and, even though gorgeous, doesn’t have a love life and doesn’t know she is gorgeous. Like all beautiful movie stars playing frumpy characters who will change, Patience has a fat friend, Sally (Alex Borstein). Catwoman is ridiculous. That mask is awful and Patience’s hair, once she becomes Catwoman, was distractingly hideous.

I became fixated on the mess on top of Catwoman’s head and Laurel’s Johnny Rotten platinum hairdo.

Brancato and Ferris and Pitof have a much better handle on the complicated Laurel. The screenwriters give her one memorable line spoken to Catwoman: “I’m used to doing all kinds of things I don’t want to do.”

Of course a handsome hunk of a police detective, Tom Lone (Benjamin Bratt), falls in love with Patience. By the way, after Patience is fired, how does she pay her rent? When the detective tussles with Catwoman, he has no idea that the black woman in a skimpy S&M outfit and a silly mask with pointy ears is really his girlfriend Patience. He’s not too smart. I guess the red lipstick fooled him.

Well, we all grew up with Superman’s disguise (a pair of glasses) shielding his true identity.

This is a big misstep blamed squarely on the writers. Couldn’t they have made Catwoman more tormented? If you were to suddenly wake up a different person, wouldn’t you be groping around trying to come to terms with your new preferences and skills? Would you still have the same thoughts as the previous you?

The CGI sequences are not very good, with Catwoman leaping around like a sick bug. But I did like the ending because, as you know, cats are fickle creatures. They are not loyal.

Final word? Halle Berry has retired Catwoman as a franchise.

Ever wonder why Sharon Stone doesn’t make many movies any more? The website, thesmokinggun.com, has her “perk” list for the proposed BASIC INSTINCT 2. Here are just some of the perks. Her adopted toddler son must have 3 nannies (at $1500 per week per nanny). Stone wanted Pilates equipment, a $3500/week per diem, armed bodyguards, no on-set cigar smoking, a chauffeured car with a non-smoking driver approved by Stone, and a convertible sedan for her personal use. Also, two assistants, cell phones, pagers, presidential suite, first-class travel (if a private jet is unavailable), chef, and a deluxe motor home with air conditioning, heating, bed, private bathroom, shower, TV, VCR, refrigerator, telephone, stove, couch, stereo, and cellular fax machine. Stone is to keep all wardrobe and jewelry worn in the movie.

Thank goodness we will never see Sharon Stone working in independent films purely for the love of her craft.

Stone has a really gorgeous wardrobe in CATWOMAN which is probably now in her closet. (I love that giant Hermes bag!) While Stone has a good lawyer, might I suggest a further demand? Stone’s next contract should stipulate that anything Stone touches goes home with her.


Cast:
Patience/Catwoman: Halle Berry
Tom Lone: Benjamin Bratt
Laurel Hedare: Sharon Stone
George Hedare: Lambert Wilson
Ophelia: Frances Conroy
Sally: Alex Borstein

Credits:
Director: Pitof
Screenwriters: John Brancato, Michael Ferris, John Rogers
Story: Theresa Rebeck, John Brancato, Michael Ferris
Based on characters created by: Bob Kane and published by DC Comics
Producers: Denise Di Novi, Edward L. McDonnell
Executive producers: Bruce Berman, Robert Kirby
Director of photography: Thierry Arbogast
Production designer: Bill Brzeski
Music: Klaus Badelt
Co-producer: Alison Greenspan
Visual effects supervisor: Ed Jones
Costume designer: Angus Strathie
Editor: Sylvie Landra

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