Six Things So Wrong (and So Horribly Right) with 2004’s ‘Catwoman’

If 1997’s masterpiece of trash cinema “Batman & Robin” invented the big schlocky comic book disaster, 2004’s “Catwoman” is its spiritual sequel. Having more in common with “Days of Our Lives” than with the Dark Knight, it’s pure catnip for the garbage-loving enthusiasts among us.

In short, it’s a movie about an introverted woman finding independence by way of magical cat breath. It’s a dumpster-dive feast for your eyes and ears, one I revisit more often than actual good movies. It’s a terrible movie I came here to roast, but I may or may not have written it a goddamn love letter. You decide. Here are its six best and worst aspects.

  1. 1) Halle Berry’s performance. Berry follows up an Oscar-winning dramatic turn in “Monster’s Ball” with a performance akin to a community theatre actor interpreting “shy” in an improv exercise. As Patience Phillips, Berry ambles through her pre-transformation scenes like an Amish teen escaped from the farm, instead of a grown metropolitan career woman. Patience’s transformation into Catwoman is “Spider-Man 3” Peter Parker-level of cheese. Whereas ingesting the black space goo caused Peter Parker to become Pete Wentz, a magic cat breathing in her mouth turns Patience into Rihanna. Berry squeezes every ounce of sass out of every clunky one-liner (“What a PURRRRRFECT I-DEA”) and ghastly failed comeback (Stone: “Game over, sweetheart.” Berry: “……….IT’S OOOOOOVERTIIIIIIIIIMEEEE.”
  2. Sharon Stone’s performance. As evil makeup empress Laurel Hedare, Stone snarls her every line through a smirk of lipstick, full soap opera villainess mode. Each word she hurls (usually toward a man) is a peppermint dipped in battery acid. Stone plays the ultimate alpha female, or else, the ultimate power gay, or else, a drag queen on bath salts. She castrates every man she shares the screen with and plots to transform the (younger) women of America into scaly beasts. She’s a true relatable icon. Her performance never reaches the camp zenith of Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy in “Batman & Robin,” but Stone at least chews enough scenery and rolls enough neck to be her more sinister cousin. Stone’s crowning achievement in the film, however, is her death: to be discussed.
  3. Catwoman is an actual fucking cat. I’m not one of those “THIS ISN’T TRUE TO THE COMICS” people but come on. When a garish CGI cat named Midnight breathes into Patience’s mouth, it transfers some its ancient Egyptian magic, making her one of many Catwomen throughout history. What? After her transformation, Berry laps up milk, eats tuna straight from the can and scales heights like a human/cat hybrid. This tweak to the Catwoman mythology is one of the movie’s worst (and best) ideas.
  4. 2004 AS FUCK CGI. Did the digital effects even look good then? Certain sequences of the movie look at best like a cartoon, and at worst like a Nintendo 64 game. It’s as if the producers realized they’d saved no money for CGI after blowing the entire budget on leather costumes for Berry and syringes of estrogen for Stone. I’d be completely remiss not to mention that CGI is used in one key scene to make Berry’s ass jiggle. And James Cameron thinks he innovated technology for the cinema? Finally, please God, let’s not forget, the aforementioned Midnight the CGI cat. It’s what I see in my dreams. What I see in my nightmares. It’s the door-greeter of the first circle of Hell.
  5. Makeup. Why would a female-centric action movie involve preventing the end of the world or stopping a mastermind villain? Nope, this is a girl’s movie and thus must center on stopping an evil makeup empire. It’s is a slightly insulting aspect of the movie but it also pays its price of admission when we discover in the climax that Sharon Stone’s obsessive use of the anti-aging cream has turned her into (very Sharon Stone eating scenery voice) “LIVING MARBLE!” That’s right. Sharon used her evil skin cream until it somehow turned her literally into Sharon Stone. In the end, the audience is treated to a final fight that’s more “Dynasty” than DC, with each hurling barbs at the other ending in Berry scratching her enemy’s face to bits. Stone, aghast at her ravaged face, is momentarily distracted and…..
  6. Sharon Stone’s very obvious mannequin falling from a building. It’s the film’s crowning achievement, Hollywood’s crowning achievement and cinema’s crowning achievement. When I saw this movie in 2004, I was alone in the theater and I screamed. I’m still screaming. Do you still see Sharon Stone’s mannequin hurtling out of a window, Clarice?

Main Author: Russell Falcon, Contributing Writer

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