written by John Bracanto, Michael Ferris and John Rogers

directed by Pitof

starring Halle Berry and Sharon Stone


review by Stephen Notley

The male-dominated nerd world months ago wrote Catwoman off sight unseen as crap. The trailers said it all. With a ridiculous costume, badly-delivered one-liners and a total lack of respect for the original comics, Catwoman was sure to suck.

And yes, it's true, the costume is kinda bad, and Halle Berry does fumble some of those one-liners, and the story has nothing to do with the comics and doesn't even *mention* Batman. But y'know by the time that stuff hit I didn't care because this movie totally had me on its side.

Giving up some nerd-cred I must admit I know next to nothing about the comics Catwoman; all I knew was that this was another version of the same character played by Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns -- that is, a shy, mousy woman who is murdered and then mystically resuscitated by sympathetic cats.

This time the mousy girl is Halle Berry, a talented artist who sold out and mousily works doing art direction for a sleazy cosmetics firm run by Sharon Stone and the Merovingian (snooty French guy) from Matrix Reloaded. As over-serious Storm in the X-Men films Halle feels a little stiff, but here she wears the frumpiness naturally, color-discoordinated, clunkin' shyly around until she happens to stumble across the fact that the firm's new product Beau-Line (pronounced "Bee-oh-leen") has the unpleasant side effect of melting people's faces off. The cosmetics biz being the competitive one that it is Berry gets chased, shot at and flushed, dies, has cat-life breathed into her and finally goes home, and now she's Catwoman.

Over the next few days Halle begins to realize something's happened, and this is where Catwoman really shines. She's great, so alive to what's happening, responding in such a believable way. She'll do some instinctive cat thing --hiss at a dog, say-- and then she'll stop for a second and think, "Whoa, what's going on here?" She's always thinking about it, and the scenes connect in that good way, and as she gets kittier she gets cooler, unlocking the things in her personality that were holding her back. It's the superhero dream, particularly the Spider-Man idea, that getting these superpowers just allows you to be the person you really are, and it feels good to see her explore her new self. She's not driven by a tragedy or a duty; she's more of a personal avenger, setting her own course, doing what she wants… you know, like a cat.

Unfortunately that also involves falling in love with a cop, a sweet sexy sensitive goodlooking dreamboat guy unmarked by any trace of character. Seeing him made me feel sudden sympathy for all those girlfriends watching hero movies and finding nothing to connect to in the "hero's girlfriend" character, like MJ always needing to be rescued and being loved cuz you're there. He's such a ridiculous sweetheart he's a drag on the movie and let's face it, he's just too nice to be dating Catwoman.

Early in the movie I was liking Catwoman but getting a little worried about how her enemies were shaping up. Unfortunately they never really get their poo together and she never has to go up against anybody truly tough. The one exception is Sharon Stone, thank God, who's ready to kick Catwoman's ass before she even exists. She's such a potent force, even in just a few scenes, it's a shame she didn't get to crack out a bit more super-villainess action. She really deserved to get a CGI puppet version of herself dishing out some bigger slams to Halle's CGI puppet. Oh well.

Also good was Alex Borstein as Halle's funny girlfriend, the kind of character that usually drives you nuts in movies like this. But as both the voice of Lois Griffen on Family Guy and staff writer on the same show, Borstein's got comedy cred and *her* one-liners are actually funny.

So yeah. Costume is kind silly, and the action is a bit cutty and computery, and the romantic plot is a bit of a dud. But Halle becoming Catwoman? Worth seeing. Nerds are probably gonna hate this as they hated Daredevil, and Catwoman certainly has a Daredevily feel to it. But maybe Catwoman isn't a superhero movie for nerds, maybe it's a superhero movie for girls. I liked it; I'd be curious to hear what girls who see it think.

Home links reviews fanklub t-shirts books annotations archive