I just had to post this review because I couldn't stop laughing! Anyone planning on owning the DVD?
Rating: Half a star
If you see Catwoman, you'll see enough of Halle Berry's ass to last you a lifetime. Backlit, in soft focus, close-up, playing basketball, lounging in bed, peeking around corners, slumming in sweatpants, packed into leather or just giving Ms. Berry somewhere to sit.
Perhaps you find this notion of superfluous ass hard to swallow. Maybe you have a Halle Berry's ass screensaver on your computer, and anxiously avoid doing any work so that it manifests itself like two colliding soccer balls. If you're in such an unhappy (and unproductive) state, Catwoman will free your mind.
For the rest of us, the movie betrays our trust. I don't mean it flouts the rules of cinematic storytelling (although it does). I refer to the opening voiceover by Berry. "It all started on the day I died," she begins. She goes on to say that her obituary, had there been one, would have been quite ordinary. "But there was no obituary, because the day I died is the day I started to live. But that comes later." Aha! So it all starts before the day she died! How can we believe anything this movie says now?
But it wants our trust, wrapping itself around our legs and looking all cute and believable. For instance, we're supposed to buy that Berry's character, Patience Phillips, starts the movie as Ditzwoman, clumsy, frumpy and mousy. And crazy -- she goes out on a ledge to rescue a stray cat and almost falls to her death. Also, the villain is Hedare, a cosmetics firm, which is launching a new product that, if you stop using it, makes you look like Charlize Theron in her Monster makeup. As if L'Oreal or any of the other fine purveyors of beauty products would sell us anything overpriced, useless or dangerous! In any case, Ditzwoman gets herself killed learning this small-print information, so now we're back to where we started.
Patience is brought back to life by what looks suspiciously like a computer-generated version of Toonces, Saturday Night Live's driving cat. (It accomplishes this by breathing in her face; if you've ever had a cat breathe in your face, you'll be surprised that it reverses rather than cements her demise.)
The CG work would look great in an animated film, but falls as flat as Roger Rabbit in this live-action environment. As does Berry's digital stand-in -- once she becomes Catwoman and starts hopping from ledges and climbing walls, she loses both definition and inertia. This is one movie in which the computer-game spinoff actually looks better than the original, and an instance in which the ease of digital effects have convinced the filmmaker, French director Pitof, to employ them in places when an old-fashioned bluescreen would do nicely.
Berry gets a love interest with a porn-star name in Tom Lone, police detective, played by Benjamin Bratt at a simmer that never quite boils over -- he spends most of the movie looking handsomely puzzled at the similarities between his new girlfriend and the new kitty criminal on the loose. For instance, their handwriting matches, and the "o" in her spelling of "sorry" has the handwriting guy conclude that "she plays by her own rules." (And by the way, any police department with flat-screen computers that compare lip prints and deliver a "99.9% match" in snazzy graphics is getting way too much of your tax dollar.)
The husband-and-wife baddies running the cosmetics giant are Sharon Stone and Lambert Wilson. Wilson's character is just as maritally wayward as his Merovingian in the Matrix movies, but sadly he is less overtly French this time out. Stone, a former Revlon spokesperson (Berry is a current one) gets to rail: "I was never more beautiful, never more powerful, and then I turned 40 and they threw me away." This might help explain the 46-year-old Stone, and it certainly explains her character: Hell hath no fury ...
Berry's motivation is another matter. Frances Conroy (Six Feet Under) plays a funereal cat lady who understands that Toonces -- sorry, Midnight -- has given Patience mysterious feline powers. She spins a speech about freedom and power that sounds more like a bad horoscope for a Leo than a mantra for Patience's new pussycat persona. Catwoman subsequently trashes a neighbourhood rave, busts up a couple of cat burglars, leaves with their loot and then feels bad and returns it -- well, most of it. But she also saves a child from a freak Ferris wheel accident and has a vendetta against the cosmetics couple. The way a cat will stand on your doorstep for 15 minutes trying to decide whether to go in or out mirrors Catwoman's conflicted nature.
But between Berry's digital double and the plot's silly foundation and, er, makeup, there is little to recommend Catwoman. We have seen more realistic superheroes in Spider-Man, more complex characters in Hellboy and better-looking cats in Shrek 2. Of course, none of these films can boast Halle Berry's ass. But that comes later.