Catwoman (2004) review

This is a repost from about a year ago on my other blog. I wrote this review shortly after Anne Hathaway was announced as Catwoman for The Dark Knight Returns. It’s about time I repost it here, with a few fixes here and there. Why not celebrate the upcoming DKR Blu-ray release by reviewing what might actually be the worst Batman related movie ever. Yes, this is far worse than Batman and Robin.

(Hathaway as Selina Kyle in The Dark Knight Returns)

I know very little about Catwoman in the comics. I read the first issue of the New 52 Catwoman, and I didn’t like it. All my information on Catwoman comes from the Adam West Batman movie, Batman Returns, Lego Batman, Arkham City and the little information I’ve gained from Linkara’s comic reviews. Lego Batman and the Adam West series aren’t exactly the greatest sources of information on such a classic Batman character, and something just feels off about her Batman Returns portrayal. Experience is telling me that Batman Returns may actually be more accurate than this movie though.

Catwoman released in 2004 in the middle of a barrage of terrible Superhero movies. The same general period brought us the first Fantastic Four movie, Electra and X-Men 3. Catwoman was critically panned, carrying a 9% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and it received numerous Razzie nominations. Hally Berry herself accepted her Razzie for worst actress in person with the following speech,

(This is Catwoman, the pathetically cliché loser turned superhero)

The actual movie starts with Halle Berry floating in the water unconscious. She narrates saying,
“It all started on the day that I died.” She goes on about how her life was unremarkable before then, but after she died she began to live. Oh, and apparently her character name is Patience Phillips in this movie. The Catwoman in the comics is Selina Kyle; if she has the wrong name, there’s a slight possibility that this movie might not be very true to the source material. Either way, I’ll just call her Catwoman to make things easier.

Actually no, this movie has absolutely nothing to do with the comics, previous movies, or any other Catwoman related material. She’s not even worthy of the name Catwoman – let’s just call her Catgirl.

(Catwoman, as portrayed Julia Newmar in the Adam West Batman movie. That was a much sillier portrayal than 2004 Catwoman, yet somehow it’s easier to take seriously.)

The scene switches to some obnoxious moving shots of a city, where Catgirl is bumping into everyone she comes across. It’s an incredibly cliché way to show the audience that this character is a loser. Catgirl eventually enters a rather shiny looking office building – too shiny actually. Her office friend complains about her eyes feeling weird, but before we know where that conversation was going the next scene interrupts their little talk.

A business owner, named George, is talking in front of his board in a very shiny, picture filled office. It looks like a science fiction movie. He owns a beauty product company which is about to release a product that can literally reverse the signs of aging, and his wife, Laurel, is the company’s main model. Well, she was until they announced a new model within that very scene. Only several minutes in and already we’ve been bombarded with pointless moments. Do we really need to know who the previous model was when the introduction shows us the new model?

So that’s Catgirl’s enemy in this movie – a beauty product company? What’s next, Batman taking on Rock and Roll? Oh wait, that actually happened.

Catgirl is walking down the hall with her friend toward George’s office, talking about more pointlessness. After she enters his office, he says he’s not pleased with her. She made an advertisement for him and he complains that the red isn’t dark enough. So? Just throw it in Photoshop or something and darken the red – done! But no, apparently she has to start completely over just to darken the red. George gives her a day to redo it, because darkening red in Photoshop totally takes a full day to do. You could even solve this in Microsoft Paint.

Cut to Catgirl having trouble sleeping because her neighbors are partying too loud. Have you ever heard of complaining to the cops? I’m sure they’ll shut the party down. Instead, she walks over to her window and shouts at them to turn the music down. Sorry, she doesn’t shout, she talks softly at them, because talking quietly from across the road at people playing loud music is guaranteed to get their attention. Why should we care about such an incompetent main character? She then sees a cat down on the street, staring at her.

(Catwoman in Batman Returns, played by Michelle Pfeiffer. A much darker and more interesting of the character, even if a little bizarre.)

The next morning, Catgirl is painting, and the same cat shows up at her window. She leans out and finds the cat up on a window ledge. She thinks that the cat is stuck and climbs onto an old, rusty external air conditioner to help – genius plan. Uh oh, it cracks and partially falls out the window, leaving our hero in quite the predicament.

Some cop dude sees Catgirl hanging on for dear life and stops his car nearby. He stands out and talks to her as if she’s suicidal despite her protests. I think this is supposed to be funny. The air conditioning unit slips again, and the cop rushes up to her apartment. He saves her just in time, making this scene both contrived and cliché. A bunch of people clap – people that weren’t on the street in the previous street shot. This movie has a serious problem with establishing shots … and sense in general. The cop tells Catgirl that she’s brave for trying to save someone else’s cat. He introduces himself as Tom, and then she runs for work and drops her wallet on the way.

Another pointless zoom shot through the city later, and we’re back at the beauty product building. One of the large pictures of the business man’s wife/old model suddenly switches to the new model. What? That was a TV screen? What’s the point of having a giant TV screen if it’s going to have the same static image for weeks? At that rate, this screen is going to have serious burn in regardless of the screen type. This office building’s hydro bill must be through the roof. And why is the entire building covered in the same pictures of the current model? How about some variety? Wouldn’t people get sick of looking at the same picture everywhere they turn?

George also cancels all of his upcoming meetings with his wife Laurel, who was the previous beauty model by the way. Laurel’s probably not very happy with her husband lately. She’s going to be the main villain isn’t she. I’m calling it.

Tom shows up in the office building where Catgirl works, and several people including a guy, stare at him in amazement. Why? He’s just a cop – what’s so impressive about him? Catgirl introduces Tom to her friend as the cop she told her about earlier. He gives Catgirl back her wallet, but sticks around for a little chat. They decide to have coffee later – enter the forced love story.
We cut to, ugh, a fast-forwarding shot through the office where Catgirl is the only one moving at regular speed. It stops at what’s supposed to be approaching midnight, yet it kind of looks like there’s daylight sneaking through the windows. She receives a call telling her to deliver the advertisement … I think. She drives to another fancy looking building and tries to enter; only it’s locked. Rather than finding a doorbell, she quietly asks,

“Is anybody in there?” How stupid can you be? Are you really so dense or shy to rely on anything but quietly asking for stuff when no-one could possibly hear you? With this kind of shyness you have to wonder how she was hired anywhere in the first place.

Anyway, Catgirl finds a restricted access door that isn’t locked and leads straight to a storage area. Whoever owns this building has the tightest security ever seen. She continues walking into a huge laboratory/chemical storage/whatever the frick this place is. Meanwhile, Laurel is talking to some guy we’ve never seen before about some rather nasty side effects to their beauty products. Catgirl finds them, and alerts them to her presence after stumbling onto a table. She runs out the door, only to find a security guard closing on her position. Oh, so this place does have security? Who would have thought?

Two security guards find Catgirl’s shadow in another large storage room, even though there was only one before. One of them politely says they only want to ask her some questions, but the second she pops out, the other fires his gun. She’s not a hostile target, you sure you don’t want to ask who sent her first?

Catgirl runs into some large pipe room with red lights and the crazed security guard starts firing his gun wildly. As always with these movies, his aim is horrid. Catgirl runs into a piped hallway and stumbles into some wet ramp that she slides down. There’s an open pipe at the bottom of the ramp that she crawls into just before the two security guards show up again. Wait, they were separate in the red pipe room, now they’re together again? Can we please have some consistency here?
The guards seal the pipe shut with the push of a button to the side. We then see Catgirl running through the pipe, and air suddenly starts shooting at her. My guess is that this is where she supposedly dies. That’s the problem with a spoiler introduction; it ruins all potential tension in scenes like this. She runs to the end of the pipe, and is blasted by a rush of water.

Next up, a full minute of seeing Catgirl’s dead body floating in the water, intercut with an obviously CGI cat. The CGI cat walks on her body and breathes on her, waking her up … somehow. The movie never explains exactly what the cat did. Catgirl sits back up, and all the cats are gone. Her vision is apparently much better as she sees objects larger than she used to. She’s also moving around all twitchy. She walks back home and leaps onto her balcony before smashing through her window.

As weird as Catgirl’s transformation in Batman Returns was, at least parts of it made dramatic sense. In that movie, Catgirl smashed her apartment because she was tired of being the victim and her new cat-like instincts were taking over. Here, Catgirl’s smashing through her window when she could just open it, and she doesn’t destroy anything else. It’s completely pointless.

Catgirl wakes up to Tom calling her from the coffee shop, saying he has to get back to work. She missed her first date but he’s still interested? This means they’re totally meant for each other! She finds the weird cat in her apartment again and finds an address on its collar. She finds the house on the address – a single, small building in-between a bunch of very tall buildings. Holy crap! That house must be worth a fortune. Some woman opens the door and invites Catgirl in. Despite being late for work, Catgirl decides to wander in. Again, how did she ever get her job in the first place? Catgirl is greeted by dozens of cats. For a crazy lady, this woman looks fairly normal.

The cat lover describes the magic cat as a very rare breed with special powers. The cat lover then tosses Catgirl a ball, and she starts rubbing it all over her face. Apparently it’s catnip, and Catgirl is just as attracted to catnip as cats are. Was that really necessary?

Catgirl goes back to work, only to be greeted by a shouting George in front of her peers. Meanwhile, Catgirl is ignoring him as she’s drawing…something. She apologizes to George for working for such scum as him, and she’s promptly fired. I have to admit, that scene kind of works, showing that she has new mood swings that she’s not used to. As she tries to apologize, her co-workers applaud her loudly. OK, the applause was stupid.

Catgirl and her friend are walking down the street – wait, did she get fired too? If not, than she shouldn’t be walking on the streets during business hours. Anyway, Catgirl hisses at two barking dogs and then stares at a very expensive necklace in a store window. Her friend randomly faints and the movie cuts to the hospital after she’s undergone a bunch of tests. This almost pointless plot thread has something to do with the harmful beauty products, which we already knew about.

The movie cuts to Tom speaking to a bunch of kids at a school. Does this guy ever do any real police work? So far we’ve only seen him stalking artists, waiting at a coffee shop, and talking to kids. Catgirl shows up and gives him a coffee cup with the word “Sorry” written on it. Is that Catgirl’s apology or the director’s apology for this movie?

They talk about pointless stuff as the kids play basketball outside, until the kids challenge the two adults to play 1 on 1. What follows is the worst scene I’ve ever encountered in a Superhero movie. The two rub against each other sexually – in front of kids at a school. The fast cut editing is sickening to the stomach. Of course, all of this movie’s “action scenes” have editing like this.
Laurel is angrily looking at pictures of the company’s new model as she catches George walking on the street with the new model, and crushes a glass cup with her bare hand. Notice how the glass bends before it breaks. She then looks at her hand, which is perfectly intact. Either this movie doesn’t understand the physics of glass (common mistake there,) or she’s got some sort of super strength/durability. Why hasn’t she filed for divorce yet?

We’re 40 minutes in and we still haven’t seen Catgirl in costume. The pacing in this movie is dreadful.

Catgirl is eating cat food on her bed, because we so haven’t got the hint that she’s like a cat now. She gets a call from her work friend, whose standing at a desk in the hospital. What? Why is she not in a bed? And if she’s able to stand up, why isn’t she back at work yet? There’s no explanation as to why she’s neither in a hospital bed nor at work. It’s here that we learn Catgirl has another planned date with the cop. Oh come on! I was hoping that this would at least be a bad superhero movie, not a bad chick flick that happens to have a superhero in it.

Catgirl is again kept awake by the partying neighbors.  She walks over to the window and yells at them. Congratulations, you’ve learned how to use your voice; now call your cop friend Tommy to deal with them. It’s also pretty stupid that everyone’s standing in exactly the same position as the last time they kept Catgirl awake. That must be a lame party if everyone has assigned standing positions.

The standing party animals they tell Catgirl to “get a life,” so she storms over to their apartment, knocks down the door and leaps onto a table. She grabs a beer dispensing tube and shoots it at the speakers to destroy them. Catgirl also kicks one of the guys into another table and asks everyone to keep quiet – and then she leaves. What? No fight scene? Knocking one guy back was enough to scare all 15 drunk people in that apartment? That’s like scaring the entire yukuzo gang network by pushing one gangster down the stairs from behind.

Catgirl then invades her closet and pulls out a box. Inside, there’s a leather suit. She then cuts her hair, puts on the leather jacket and pants, and starts riding around in her motorcycle. This scene is complete with sickening shaky cam and painfully bad pop music. She stops by the store with the fancy necklace from earlier and stares. She then sees a thief through the window and smiles. Oh, so this is a fully heroic Catgirl rather than the half hero-half villain that she’s supposed to be? Well, at least we finally have the movie’s first real action scene.

Catgirl ends up fighting three armed jewelry store robbers, by climbing all over the walls and balconies before jumping onto the floor and repeatedly spin kicking them. Again, all this is set to annoying pop music with incredibly fake looking CGI and sickening camera work. She beats up the three thieves and steals everything in the store. OK, so I guess she is half-criminal. What makes this scene even worse is she actually repeats the purr gag from the Adam West series, and it’s painfully out of place here.

Catgirl wakes up, confused at all the riches by her bed, and bags everything but one ring and the expensive necklace she was staring at earlier. Wait, Catgirl has memory problems in this movie? It’s not like she’s supposed to have a separate cat personality like Bruce Banner and the Hulk.

The movie cuts to Tom talking to the jewelry store owner, describing that same necklace as one of a kind. Finally, some actual police work. It only took them half the movie to show him doing his job. But oh crap, is she going to wear that on her upcoming date, only for him to realize she was the thief? No, we actually never see the necklace again…WHAT WAS THE POINT? Also, why doesn’t this expensive jewelry store have any security cameras? Is there a total lack of security equipment in this stupid universe?

Tom then find a paper bag with most of the jewelry inside, and the word “Sorry” written on it. Beside the bag lies a box of cupcakes. What are the cupcakes for? I don’t know, just roll with it.

Catgirl is now looking up cat women on Google. She finds a picture of a cat very much like the one that hung around her apartment earlier in the movie, and decides to go back to the cat lover’s house. Here we learn that this cat lover has an entire library in her house, and that she was a professor for 10 years before she was fired. So she’s been unemployed for years now and yet she has a giant library house in the middle of downtown? How does she afford that place? Why hasn’t she been robbed yet? Nothing is ever explained in this movie.

Anyway, the crazy cat person explains that Catgirl is now a catwoman, and then gives her an old cat mask. The movie takes three minutes to explain what we’ve already figured out about Catgirl’s powers and personality change. We learn nothing new from this scene – it’s completely pointless. The film would accomplish more if it showed cats growing up in real time.

We then see Catgirl wearing her costume for the movie, which makes her look more like a dominatrix than a cat. So do we call her domownatrix now? Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Catgirl starts jumping around the city with incredibly fake looking CGI and more sickeningly cheesy music. The music finally ends when she finds the crazy security guard (the one that shot at her earlier) meeting someone at a shipping dock. She then follows him into a bar. She orders a White Russian without ice or vodka or coffee – in other words, cream. YOU COULD HAVE JUST ORDERED MILK YOU…know what, screw it. Also, notice that she doesn’t pay for her drink. How does this bar make a profit?

Catgirl ends up on the dance floor, complete with lighting that’s sure to give people seizures. She reaches the bipolar guard and kicks him outside, where they have a boring fight scene set to more painful pop music. Here’s a tip for aspiring filmmakers – pop music is the worst possible way to raise tension in a fight scene. I’m starting to feel sick from rapid camera movement – no joke.

After a short interrogation, Catgirl heads into an office building, finds a dead body, and leaves. That was pointless, just like half of the scenes in this movie so far.

The next morning, Catgirl visits her friend in the hospital and oh look, she’s in a hospital bed now, and she’s not really getting any better. Strange, she was standing before. The TV shows that Catgirl is accused of murder … wait, what? Also because the Catgirl is already being chased by the cops for robbing a jewelry store, being accused of murder is pointless because you know she won’t be jailed for long anyway. Catgirl then throws out her friend’s makeup and tells her it’s making her sick, and the scene’s over. Really, the movie won’t allow her time to question this anti-makeup rant? Having Catgirl try to explain how she knows the makeup is harmful could have been interesting – at least with better writers.

Next up, we see Tom with the paper bag from the jewelry store, and the “sorry” cup that Catgirl gave him. He looks at the word “sorry” on both of them, and it’s written exactly the same. He gets one of his cop friends to check the two written apologies. I have no idea how, but the cop friend can figure out the mood of the person who wrote something, and somehow comes to the conclusion that the two “sorry” notes were written by different people, despite being in the exact same shape. How does that … what?

We then see Catgirl and Tom in some fair, throwing balls at bottles.  He asks her if she knows anyone that hates George, and she says many people hate him. That’s the scene – can’t this movie stay focused on one thing for even a minute?

Next up, the greatest superhero moment in any movie – ever. A ferris wheel breaks down, and the couple rescues everybody. Truly worthy of taking up three minutes of our time!
Catgirl breaks into George’s mansion and looks around. Once again this building has no security. She’s struck from behind by Laurel, and they fight for ten seconds complete with more horrible CGI, followed by Laurel telling Catgirl where George is. How did this movie switch from having no action to having all these short, pointless fight scenes in such a short time?

The movie cuts to some artsy stage show, where George is watching on a balcony with his new model. Why doesn’t Laurel divorce the butthead already, she’ll get a good settlement since he’s openly cheating on her. Even so, he annoys the model out of the booth, and Catgirl confronts him after.

A bunch of cops start flooding the audience, and Catgirl leaps onto the stage. That’s the perfect thing to do if cops are looking for you, go where everyone will find you. The audience claps since they think Catgirl is a part of the show, ugh. Tom soon finds Catgirl, and they have a weird fight that I think is supposed to look sexy but it’s just silly. She ends up surrounded by a dozen cops, but she fries the building’s fuse box and escapes off camera. I would complain, but the lack of an escape sequence means less bad CGI and bad pop music to sit through. Either way, I’m starting to lose my mind, so I’ll just sum up the rest of this movie.

It turns out that George and Laurel were both bad guys. Laurel kills George and frames Catgirl, who is arrested by Tom shortly after. She’s locked in a cell, but is able to squeeze through the rubber bars to escape – lamest escape scene ever. Somehow, Tom figures out that Catgirl isn’t the killer and tricks Laurel into confessing. Here we learn that Laurel has been using this new beauty product, and it makes her almost invincible until she stops. That makes no fricken sense, even in the world of superhero movies. Anyway, Catgirl and Laurel fight, Catgirl wins and Laurel falls to her death, therefore contradicting the invincibility thing. For no real reason, Catgirl breaks up with Tom even though they appeared to be in love after the non-climax. That’s pretty much it.

Seriously though, who was this movie made for? Catgirl is primarily considered a Batman villain/anti-hero, so why make a movie about her? She had nothing to do with the comic version of the character, so her fans will be angered by this movie. The dominatrix outfit was obviously supposed to bring in the younger male crowd, but it looks more stupid than it does sexy. The horrible pop music littered throughout the movie will make any self-respecting young male sick to their stomachs, so it’s like you’re dragging them into the movie just to make them vomit right back out.

As a Superhero movie, it’s boring. As a chick flick, it has a downer ending. As a bad movie, it’s painfully unfunny. I guess the answer is nobody; this movie was made for nobody. And why is Tom investigating both jewelry store robberies and murders, I’m pretty sure those are different police divisions.

(Good wholesome family entertainment)
Two Word Review – sickeningly boring

About healed1337

I am a relatively new comic book fan writing this blog for other new comic book fans and/or people who are interested in comics but don't know where to start. I've always been interested in writing, to the point where I have a college Creative Writing Certificate and I'm currently a year 2 Journalism student. I also have another blog where I mostly make fun of bad movies - As for how I got into comics, I've always had a passing interest in superheroes: most notably Batman, Spider-man and the X-Men. Until February of 2011 (I think,) my only experience with any of these franchises came from the movies and video games. Shortly after I bought Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 however, I decided to check out X-23, Wolverine's female clone. I ended up reading her Innocence Lost origin story and enjoyed it. From there, I started reading various X-Men comics and it quickly exploded into my newest hobby. My other interests/hobbies include video games, movies, music, playing sports, my dogs and weird news.
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