A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Catwoman

May 9, 2011

Catwoman

I think there’s something seriously wrong with us. Me and Amanda I mean. How do we recover after watching a pretty bad movie yesterday? We put in Catwoman. Yeah, I know.

I wish I knew what the thought process behind this movie was. “Let’s make a Batman movie without Batman.” I suppose you could view this as a contrast to Elektra. It’s a spin-off using a popular female character from a comic book movie. Except that the character being spun off here is not played by the same person, so maybe that’s not what it is anyhow. This isn’t even the same Catwoman depicted by Michelle Pfeifer way back in Batman Returns way back in 1992. Instead it’s a “fresh” look at the same character. Only this isn’t Selina Kyle – Halley Berry is Patience Phillips. She has pretty much the same plot arc though. She’s a quiet mousy graphic designer until she’s killed by some guards at the evil cosmetic corporation she works for.

Then she’s resurrected by a magic cat and given the power to morph into CGI and jump around like a video game character. She can see in the dark, she has super agility and can leap amazing distances. She has all the powers of the mighty puma.

What’s odd to me here is that this movie uses a well established character from the DC universe but has nobody else there. I assume it takes place in Gotham, but it’s not ever stated. There’s no sign of any of the other inhabitants of Gotham. The comic book nerd in me would like to at least have had some small nod – have a Commissioner Gordon berate the stalwart police officer who falls in love with Patience while investigating the burglary that Catwoman perpetrated. (And the murders that are later pinned on her.) Have and Oswald Cobblepot or a Dr. Crane… something!

Instead this movie tries to be a new take on the catwoman mythos. It tries to lay a groundwork that there have always been catwomen through history – women gifted with cat powers so they can release their inner wild beast. It has a little potential I suppose, but then it goes and has Halle deliver some awful cliche like “What a Purrrrrfect idea” and whatever potential it might have had vanishes. Instead what we have is a morass of pathetically predictable cat-based one-liners. Try to imagine what would happen if a room full of writers were told to think of every cat joke they could in thirty minutes and then you strung them together and made a movie about it. This is something like that.

The movie also relies heavily on cheesy looking CGI work to let Catwoman leap about, none of which is very convincing. And oh, the camera work. It’s all quick frenetic swooping shots combined with a wide angle lens for that nausea-inducing fish-eye effect. I do not subscribe to the notion that moving the camera faster makes an action scene feel like it has more action, but director “Pitof” certainly does. A quick look at IMDB reveals that Pitof started out as an effects man, working with Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and I can see a certain City of Lost Children vibe here, but it leaches all the fun from that movie and leaves only the jumping flea scene – for more than an hour and a half.

I feel awful for all the talented people involved in producing this litter-box fare. I generally like Halle Berry and Benjamin Bratt. This movie has a small role for one of Amanda’s favorite actors, Peter Wingfield (who does a passable American accent I think.) Lambert Wilson plays the Marovingian from the Martix sequels again – the poor typecast fellow. The only person who seems to really know what kind of movie this is and relish the scenery chewing is Sharon Stone. She’s the best thing in this as the jilted wife of the owner of the evil cosmetic corporation (and previous spokeswoman.) I’m not saying I’d watch it again for her, but she is perfectly cast and seems to truly enjoy the over-acting involved.

This movie isn’t despicable like yesterday’s movie. It’s not disappointing, really, because I have pretty low expectations for a Catwoman movie. It is simply bad. Badly written by committee. Badly directed. Badly conceived. It’s not even bad enough to really be good – it’s just lame and kind of sad. Still – it’s a comic book movie so I had to own it, right?

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May 9, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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