BlokeBusting The Essentials #95: Catwoman
How Warner Bros Lost 1 Of Its 9 Lives…
Ok guys, here’s another film that’s best known for how bad it was. It was nominated for 7 Golden Raspberry awards and won 4 (Worst Picture, Actress, Director & Screenplay). But more on that later. For now, let’s dive right into the review.
This film was not one I saw in the cinema. It was one that I ended up getting on DVD when it was on sale (I think maybe £2) at Woolworths. Why did I buy it? I have no idea. I went through a phase, from ages 14 to 22-ish, where I simply expanded my DVD collection and watched as many films and TV shows as I could. So yeah, a cheap film in a bargain bin was right up my alley back then. And I will also say that a few nights ago was the first time I’ve watched this film since I unwrapped that DVD and hit play all those years ago. Take from that what you will. And now we move onto…
This film was supposedly never going to follow the comics. The director wanted to have it take the idea of the Catwoman character and run in its own direction. And I can honestly say that he succeeded very well there. This version of Catwoman is by far the strangest version I’ve ever seen. There’s mystic cats that are probably immortal. There’s skin cream that will make your skin hard as stone, but only if you never stop using it or else you die horribly. There’s Catwoman displaying superhuman feats of agility and strength, but only sporadically and usually only one use per ability.
So yeah, this film is very different from any Catwoman that came before or since. And that wouldn’t have been bad if the choices made weren’t so weird and random. Let’s dive into the cast first though. Luckily there’s not much to talk about there.
- Patience Phillips/Catwoman
So yeah. Forget Selina Kyle folks, we’ve got Patience here! She’s also a graphic designer. Because of course she is. She’s also a painter who is HORRIBLE at social interactions. She’s also…. quite well portrayed by Halle Berry. The script clearly was awful, the situations she’s in are laughable and she’s got to portray both a bumbling introvert & effectively a strong, sexual, confident goddess (often in the same line reading). And despite all of that, HB actually managed to do well. The same can’t be said for whoever was in charge of the CGI. I would be willing to chalk that up to the limitations of the time, but given what we’ve seen before this film I simply can’t do that. Every time it’s not HB on screen, you know it. Every time it’s not actually anyone/anything that’s really there, you really can’t help but notice. But regardless, as much as it pains me to admit it, HB was the one shining light from this film.
- Tom Lone
Boring. You know the guy who is just doing their job but is simply falling for the main female lead? Yep, that’s him. I’d forgotten that this character was in this film. At least by the end they don’t end up together. So that’s nice. Next!
- Laurel Hedare
Remember me saying that there was skin made of stone? Well, I think they wrote that into the script just so they could get Sharon Stone to play the part. Again the script does nothing for this character. She’s evil because she’s evil. Either that or she’s so incredibly shallow that she’s doing everything simply because she likes how her skin looks with the new product. And either way that’s not a good motive for a main villain. I do think Sharon Stone did what she could with this role. You can tell she’s trying. But it just doesn’t land. Once again we have that most annoying of things, a boring villain. Plus she has/had a husband.
She’s fun. She’s the sassy best friend. She’s got some of the best lines in the film and they basically sideline her about 45 minutes in. Still, you gotta love Alex Borstein!
Did Anything Good Come From This?
So this film was universally panned by critics and cinema-goers alike, it’s got bad writing, boring characters and terrible CGI. There’s a few good performances but nothing that can save the film. So what could possibly surround this film that’s good? Well…
As I said at the top, Catwoman won 4 Razzie Awards. One of those was Worst Actress. It turns out that Halle Berry is quite a good loser, as she actually went to the awards and accepted the Razzie that night. She even brought along a friend or two. And now you get to see that magical event!
*Warning: Swearing abounds in the following clip*
But seriously, this film is a joke. The acting is meh at best from 90% of the characters on-screen, the graphics are laughably bad and the script is just bad. And trust me, I’m fine with diverging from the source material! In fact, I think it’s good to have that because then a film adaptation can stand as its own thing. But this effectively disregards the entire source material other than the name. And when the name is what will bring people to see your film, you’ve royally messed up.
Well, that’s probably enough talking in one go from me, so here’s Bubba with his take!
Oh Catwoman, the wish-it-would-be-forgotten child of DC movies. It’s been a while since I’ve seen this film and I’ve never liked it, though I have enjoyed it on a completely different level. This movie is just a neverending series of bad choices. Instead of taking a cat burglar Batman villain with a heart of gold, so to speak, and making a movie around that, they chose to come up with a completely new and ridiculous origin story involving a magical Egyptian cat and a bunch of cat powers that mostly involve just acting like a house cat on catnip. The story is unintelligible with a weird makeup plot to take over the world with a misogynist boss and his aging model wife who turns out to be the real villain. Then there’s the awkward romance, the best friend who doesn’t do anything except make sex jokes any time she’s on screen, and Halle Berry who seems to think that all cats just twitch their head at odd angles while having a surprised look on their face. Plus the Playstation One era of actor replacement CGI, it’s just all around laughable.
Of course, there’s one singular reason why I can’t take this odd, terrible film off of this list. As of this writing, it is the only major superhero film with a Black female lead. That’s it. End of story. It was a box office disaster, grossing only $40M on a $100M budget despite the fact that Halle Berry was hot off the heels of the latest Bond movie Die Another Day when she was initially cast in this film even though at the time there were talks that her character Jinx would spin off into her own Bond style action franchise. Unfortunately, or fortunately, this movie likely nixed that idea. It didn’t help that the studio at the time was wary of letting a woman headline a superhero movie and didn’t want to have the potential failure taint the waters of the successful Batman franchise, so that’s likely why they decided to step away from Batman aside from a photographic Easter egg and go a completely different direction with the character. Even though they dumped $100M into the film, they gave it to a virtually unknown director and despite poor trailer and test screening receptions still decided to release it in the middle of summer. And there is one other reason to include it on this list besides being the ONLY superhero movie with a Black female lead, it’s also just a fascinating disaster and a perfect example of what not to do with a superhero movie.
Stirring words as always, Mr Wheat. And so, we move into the final piece of our review. And those 3 magical questions, which are:
1) Would I recommend this film to others?
2) Does it deserve to be on this list?
3) How do I rank the films thus far?
Well, before a magical cat comes in and breathes its incredibly fishy breath on me, here we go.
- Nope. I’m even slightly sorry that I had to watch this film again for this review. They tried, and I do admire trying to take a character in a new direction. But it’s just not worth your time.
- I’ve had a LOT of trouble coming to a decision for this one. On the one hand, it’s awful. On the other hand, it’s both a brave attempt at something new & a good indicator of what not to do (which is often quite important). However, I just can’t reconcile giving a place on this list to this film. So now I need to figure out what must replace it. And I think you guys are going to be fairly shocked here.
X-Men: The Last Stand.
Yep. It’s not a great film. It’s often cited as the worst X-Men film (recent offerings not withstanding, of course). But I will actually go on record as saying that despite the bad rep, I think the film isn’t that bad. It’s camp, it diverges from the source material and it has some good performances in it (especially McKellen and Jackman). But this film actually does most things right, while still disappointing the die-hards. For that reason I feel it’s more deserving of a spot on this list, even if it’s simply to stand as an example of how things can go wrong!
- Well, with that random upset, here’s the current listings:
1) Dr Strange
2) Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
3) Batman: The Killing Joke
4) Superman 3
5) The Wild Wild World Of Batwoman
7) Batman And Robin
8) The Amazing Spider-Man
9) BvS: Dawn Of Justice
Wonder Woman (replacing The Death Of The Hulk)
X-Men: The Last Stand (replacing Catwoman)
Well, that’s it for another couple of weeks folks! I hope you enjoyed this review and that you find your own use for that strange leather outfit that your friends bought you despite there being ZERO chance that you’d ever wear it! Ta-Ta for now!!