Ebert: Rolling Stone: TV Guide:
minor plot points revealed!
OK, this is going to be one of my "angry reviews" so be forewarned. Catwoman is not the best superhero movie of the summer. It's not even close to the majesty that is Spiderman 2, but seriously who thought it would be? Catwoman was exactly what I expected it to be and probably a little better.
As far as I'm concerned there are 3 classifications for all superhero movies. They are either "good", "great" or "awesome." There are no bad superhero films. The Spiderman films are in the "awesome" category. Other examples in this group would be the X-Men series, the first few Superman movies and the Batman series. The "great" superhero films include, among others, Hellboy, Blade, Hulk, Daredevil, The Crow, Spawn, etc. Examples of the "good" ones include The Punisher, Unbreakable, The Rocketeer, Mystery Men, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Black Scorpion, etc.
Where does Catwoman fall on the scale? In the "great" category, that's where. I'm not sure what film the "other" reviewers saw or if they are now watching all superhero films through "Spidey" colored glasses, but this movie has been unfairly disparaged. So I will stand up and be the one to defend it.
First lets get a few points out of the way. Should you rush out and see this movie in the theater? No. Only "awesome" comic movies demand such. Is it going to be worth watching on DVD after work some evening as you knock off a six pack of beer? Absolutely. That's what it was made for. This is a "Summer Fun" movie. That's all it was ever meant to be. It does not delve into character dilemmas or anguish over deep philosophical or moral issues. It's about an insanely hot chick in a supersexy cat outfit that goes around town wailing on the bad guys. If it accomplishes this one goal, and it does, it can be measured as a success.
Another strike against the film before it even starts seems to be the fact that this territory, Catwoman that is, was sufficiently covered in 1992 by Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns (my favorite of the series). But we learn in the film that the Catwoman Phenomena is not unique to a single individual and there have been many over the centuries. (If you look at the historical documents as they are introduced we even see a shout-out to Pfeiffer's Selina Kyle.) So the movie does a fine job of eliminating this been-there-done-that problem. In fact we have not been here before at all. This is the story of how Patience Philips became Catwoman. And lets not forget, between 1966 and 1968 Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt, and Lee Meriwether also wore the catsuit.
And finally, my least favorite stupid criticism of this and many other films, "there's no story", "where's the plot" blah blah blah freakin' blah. Boo hoo hoo. I have never really understood these whiny idiotic comments. All movies have a story and/or plot. If they didn't they wouldn't really be movies. Would they? Perhaps it's not a "good" story or plot, but to say there is none is just stupid. The story of Catwoman is this: Patience Philips is a shy girl who works for a cosmetics company. The evil corporation is about to release a cosmetic that disfigures women who stop using it. Patience finds out about this and is killed for her discovery. She is then brought back to life by a cat with special powers who passes it's feline gifts over to Patience who then becomes Catwoman. After she comes to better understand her new powers Patience uses them to thwart crime and bring down the company that murdered her. That's it! That's the story in a nutshell. There's actually more to it but that's the basic outline. Now was that so hard? So if you read or hear someone say that this film, or any other for that matter has no story, then by all means direct them to this website so that I can enlighten them with my amazing deductive synopsis gathering abilities.
The action sequences of Catwoman are cool. I love the whole female action hero genre and this is just another perfect example of why. There is just nothing better than a mega-hot butt kicking girl. The fight sequences are nothing we haven't seen before, Matrix meets Spiderman, but they are well done. The cityscape is reminiscent of the Batman films with a bit of The Crow thrown in to dirty it up a little. And the costumes... The costumes are (take a look over to the left) awesome.
The actors all do fine as well and seem to have fun with their parts in a summer popcorn superhero movie. We know Halle Berry can do superhero because she's so great as Storm/Ororo Munroe in the X-Men films. We knew she would be great in Catwoman because she was going to get to wear the outfit and that alone is a talent. Sharon Stone is perfect as the aging supermodel who has gone bad. She reminded me of one of the villains on the great superhero cartoon series Striperella. She's sexy, evil and over the top and that's just what the role called for. Benjamin Bratt plays the cop and love interest and we're familiar with him in this role from Law & Order so it was an easy fit. Alex Borstein, who plays some of the more annoying characters on Mad TV, can add another overenthusiastic performance to her resume as Sally, best friend / co-worker of Patience. Lambert Wilson (The Merovingian, one of my favorites from The Matrix films) is excellent as the arrogant bad guy. His French accent also helps in case his evil is not apparent enough for the standard American film viewer.
The film is also directed by a guy who calls himself Pitof. I have yet to read a review that does not take the time to make fun of this. Pitof, I liked your movie. You did a fine job. Perhaps you and McG ( director of the Charlie's Angels series) can collaborate one day and make an outstanding action flick together. I'll be first in line when you do.