|Probably released theatrically due solely to Halle Berry's star power, Catwoman is the latest Cheese Wiz offered to fans of comic book movies. Although these heroes seem to exist with flair on the pages of a graphic novel, it's always a surprise as to whether a character and his or her story can exist as a successful feature film. Sometimes you end up with Spider-Man. And sometimes you get Daredevil. Just as one must make certain changes to a novel or short story to adapt it to film, a comic book must also undergo change in its transformation to film.|
But who's to say this usually laughable film owes its problems to a faulty adaptation? It seems more prudent to blame much of this movie's faults on a basic, underlying problem: Catwoman has no heroic purpose. Attempting to mask the fact that her most immediate need is one based on revenge, the plot tries to make the audience believe she has a higher calling as the destroyer of the evil head of a cosmetics corporation.
It would be short-sighted to suggest that the film owes its existence to Halle Berry's impressive physique, but her appearance in various skin-tight leather apparel is probably the only flawless portion of the film. But a beautiful body on display like this belongs on the pages of a magazine or a calendar since all other elements of the film, convoluted and limp, barely deserve a mention.
It appears as though the filmmakers were trying to create a Statement regarding modern media and American society's increasing dependence on flawless physique. By blessing Catwoman with these amazing feline powers only after she transforms herself into something physically stunning (after having had the look of a bookworm), the underlying idea that relying too much on what's on the outside is blown completely out of the water.
And the film is not helped by the addition of a very predictable screenplay and oodles of lame dialogue and performances that can only highlight the lack of intelligence in what's spoken. Supporting actress Sharon Stone (who plays the wife of the evil cosmetics company president) and actor Benjamin Bratt (who plays a detective and Berry's love interest) both stumble over simplistic dialogue and a lack of anything interesting to say. Focusing too often on Halle Berry's slink cat-suit, the filmmakers doom what was already a flat and one-dimensional effort at storytelling.
Technical elements such as cinematography and set design are competent, though the editor might have received equal praise if the running time had been impressively condensed (of course the editor shouldn't own sole blame for being handed a difficult product). It would seem easiest to dump a great portion of the blame on the screenwriter's goofy dialogue, lumping some of that criticism on the actors as well.
Because Catwoman murders her targets instead of bringing them to justice, she can't really be considered a classic "hero," and it's possible the filmmakers weren't really concerned with bringing a classic hero story to the screen anyway. Their focus was probably the misrepresented (though earnestly presented) comment on the media's perception of beauty. But that theme on modern society is completely at odds with Halle Berry's physical transformation from bookish to model.
And the film is probably most doomed by the laughter that most of the serious scenes will elicit from the audience. Far from being the kind of campy trash one can appreciate, Catwoman asks the audience to take its bad dialogue seriously, which is simply an impossible task. While it might be sufficient to recommend this film to admirers of Halle Berry's body, viewers certainly should not shell out money for a ticket if they expect anything impressive from a woman who has an Academy Award in her closet.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.