ComicsAlliance Reviews ‘Catwoman’ (2004), Part Two
Each week, Chris Sims and David Uzumeri take a look back at one of the most successful and influential comic book movie franchises of all time, in ComicsAlliance’s in-depth retrospective on the Batman films. After our review of the first half of the 2004 Catwoman movie, we return today with Part Two:
David: Welcome back to Remedial Batmanology, guys, and let’s get this crap over with.
Chris: Well that’s awfully brusque. Don’t you appreciate the hard work that Halle Berry, Sharon Stone, and visionary filmmaker Pitof have put in to bring you this modern classic?
David: I guess you’re still a visionary if that vision is of a toilet.Chris: You make a fair point.
David: We left off last time with Patience being told by Cat Lady Professor that she is both Patience AND Catwoman, so the one thing this movie has over the Batman flicks is that Patience comes to this realization in fifty minutes, while it took Bruce six hours. This terrible script could have been made better by just being a really stylish if stupid movie, but Catwoman doesn’t get that. The “vision” is the most boring CGI direction possible. I mean, even McG has a style. And McG is terrible.
Chris: Hey man, I will not have a word spoken against the man who brought us Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. Let’s just get into it before this movie makes us turn on each other any more than we already have.
David: The scene where Patience gets the cat mask seriously reminds me of a Dragon Age cutscene, but that’s a pretty brutal insult to Dragon Age. But after receiving the cat mask, she broods on a rooftop and then there’s a really terrible music-driven sequence where Catwoman runs around the city for the first time. In her astonishingly terrible outfit, which features scratch marks over the butt.
Chris: Congratulations, Michelle Pfeiffer: You now have the second-worst Catwoman costume in cinema history.
David: This rooftop-jumping sequence, including the music and the long establishing shots, seriously is like the pre-menu-screen sequence of a crappy Mirror’s Edge ripoff.
Chris: Here’s the thing about this part: It’s been pretty well established by the first half of this movie that Pitof isn’t what you’d call a “good” or “competent” director, but he has his roots in visual effects, and you’d think that would be his strong point. So why is the CGI in this movie so awful? It looks like it was rendered on a PlayStation 2.
David: Oh, give it some credit, it’s more early-era Xbox 360.
Chris: Either way, it does not look like a movie with a budget of one hundred million dollars, especially when that’s supposed to be this guy’s specialty.
David: Well, the cat-eye-view sequences aren’t too terrible, it’s more just that the way they’re directed, I feel like I just pressed down on a PS3 analog stick. Honestly, it’s almost impossible to discuss much of this movie’s action sequences without making references to videogames.
Chris: It’s worth noting that there was a video game made of this movie, which I only know because a “friend’ of mine threatened to give it to me for my birthday.
David: That just about looks like the movie, you guys!
Chris: Do you think anyone actually played that game?
David: The actual first two paragraphs of the walkthrough:
Why are you playing this game? If you have already spent your hard-earned money on the game and insist on beating it, fine, this walkthrough is for you. Otherwise, cease and desist now and go find another game. You know, one that might actually be fun. Catwoman, the game, is worse than Catwoman, the movie.
You begin by facing three waves of models (yes, models). First three, then four, then five. Some of them are armed; try to disarm them quickly.
Chris: Armed? With what? Seriously, As much as we’ve suffered watching the Batman movies, the video games are immeasurably worse. But we should probably move on before Laura Hudson gets any ideas.
David: So Catwoman is hanging out at the docks and comes across the dude who shot her, who she recognizes with her Cat-vision, even though the movie just established that she lost her memory of her death. He’s a super-smooth operator going into a really cool club and tips the bartender $100. Catwoman’s following him and is totally unnoticed in this club, which really isn’t even a fetish club, so there is no reason for people not to wonder why she is wearing a goddamn cat outfit. Then she orders a White Russian… hold the vodka and Kahlua. Get it?! She just wants milk!!
Chris: Oh right, because she’s a cat. But to his credit, when the bartender returns with a glass of “cream, straight up,” he looks for all the world like he’s sick and tired of having to deal with this job.
David: The club is actually called “Scene 83,” which makes me wonder if this is the eighty-third scene of the movie, or just the eighty-third revision thereof.
Chris: Judging by the White Russian “joke,” it probably could’ve used an eighty-fourth.
David: Catwoman does some super-awesome dancing in strobe lights to impress the dude who killed her, because for some reason this is the kind of club where you can just walk into the center of the stage and perform tricks with your whip and not get even approached by bouncers. Then they fight outside, amongst some Bud Light boxes. I swear to God, every company that paid for product placement in this movie deserved double that back for the damage to their brands it probably caused.
Chris: Now, do me a favor, Uzi: Remind me again why Patience suddenly has a whip?
David: She was inspired by the keg tap at Nickelback’s apartment!
Chris: For some reason, this sticks out to me as one of the dumbest things about this movie. It’s the perfect example of just missing the point of something, but wanting to include it anyway. Catwoman in the comics has a whip because — get ready to groan — it’s a cat o’ nine tails. Cut to Batman Returns, and it’s there because they want to give Michelle Pfeiffer this dominatrix motif, which kinda-sorta comes from Year One. Now it’s here because she snapped a hose at a guy. Each revision makes less sense.
David: It’s going to be great when, in Dark Knight Rises, Selina just doesn’t have a whip. Maybe she has a Mercedes.
Chris: When they reboot the Harry Potter movies, they should come up with increasingly dumb reasons for Harry to be carrying a stick, without ever once mentioning magic in an effort to make them more gritty and realistic.
David: Anyway, Catwoman starts interrogating the dude about why he killed her, including yet another awful cat pun as she grabs his tongue and goes “cat got your tongue?”
David: I can’t wait for “i guess you could say I got killed by… curiosity.”
Chris: That line is actually too good for this movie. But if you’re paying attention, which I do not recommend, this is also the part where you find out what happened with that fancy necklace she stole: She used it to make diamond-tipped claws for her fingernails.
David: I did not even notice this. Holy crap. But yeah, he basically tells her everything he knows after getting scratched at for a minute and a half, likely because the true torture was simply being in this movie.
Chris: That’s a good way of looking at it. Somehow, as soon as this stone-cold killer got a look at Catwoman’s costume and experienced being thrown around by her whip in the least convincing wirework since Dracula and the Seven Golden Vampires, he realized he was in an awful movie and he needed to get out fast before anyone recognized him.
David: She immediately goes from this generic club level to a new level, which is a perfectly polished stainless steel lab with a whole bunch of liquids in vertical tubes for seemingly no reason. She finds out that the Objecting Scientist from the last half has been shot, and then she is noticed by a janitor, because apparently they send regular ol’ union janitors to clean up dead bodies.
Chris: Where was this janitor the night that Patience just wandered into the Evil Factory?
David: Playing Buster Bluth on Arrested Development, by the looks of him.
Chris: Seriously, Pitof — IF THAT IS YOUR REAL NAME! This makes no sense! Is the janitor in on it? Because this is the first step in the bad guys framing Catwoman, and it sort of hinges on the complete coincidence of Catwoman roughing up the thug, then showing up at the factory shortly after they kill the dumb scientist, then the janitor walking in to find her at his dead body. How was this supposed to work?! What was Sharon Stone (spoiler warning!) going to do if Catwoman didn’t show up? Pin it on the janitor somehow?
David: Unless the janitor was planted, and so was the hitman caving. Or, this movie just doesn’t make a lick of god damn sense. We find this out the next morning on a hospital TV as Patience goes to see Alex Borstein and give her chocolate.
Chris: You know, I almost wonder if the Catwoman script ended up only being 45 minutes long, so they mashed it up with a movie based on Cathy starring Alex Borstein.
Chris: Tell me that’s not a genius idea.
David: That’s not a genius idea. Cut to Hot Cop!
Chris: Yes, Tom Lone is working both the jewelry store heist and the scientist murder, because he is apparently the only detective in this entire city.
David: Hot Cop gets the evidence bag for the returned jewels from Ben Harper, and they trade a terrible joke about how his wife wouldn’t save a stray cat unless it had a pizza. Then we get the worst handwriting analysis scene in the history of cinema.
Chris: This scene is amazing, for all the wrong reasons. First among them being that Detective Tom Lone still has a paper coffee cup from like three days ago.
David: Second being that Patience’s “Sorry” is so well-practiced and distinctive. Third is the fact that a forensic scientist is able to determine a person’s personality by their penstrokes.
Chris: “The O… well, this person doesn’t like to play by the rules.”
David: “If these two women were in the same room, you’d have a hell of a party.” And so, despite them having basically identical handwriting, the plot explains away Lone continuing to date her by having him be told, explicitly, that there’s no way those two incredibly similar “Sorry”s were written by the same people, due to some astonishingly stupid psychobabble.
Chris: And also makes a weird insinuation about how it’s awesome to have a threesome if one of the parties involved is reallly shy and apologetic. Ladies.
David: Meanwhile, at the carnival, Hot Cop asks Patience if anyone didn’t like the Hedares, and she’s all like “oh yeah, I mean, he fired me, so I don’t,” because she apparently wants to explicitly make Lone reopen his mental case file.
Chris: The rest of the carnival scene is dumb as hell and I don’t want to talk about it.
David: They get stuck on top of a Ferris wheel and are about to start making out when it starts to collapse due to a bunch of gears suddenly just going haywire for no discernible reason, and the dude below is just pressing the lever over nad over again instead of trying anything, so Patience saves some kid with her cat powers while Tom Lone shoves a wrench in the gears to stop it, because nobody on the damn ground thought of this.
Chris: Also, for those of you who aren’t watching along with us, the “Patience saves a kid with her cat powers” scene is all done from her perspective, which seems like it might be interesting until you realize that they did it so they wouldn’t have to pay to do actual CGI of her moving along the ferris wheel.
David: Also, none of the people watching seem to be at all curious about these ridiculous cat powers, and since Tom Lone was busy and is, as we’ve established, the only person with any inquisitiveness in this entire made-up city, nobody puts two and two together that the lady with the cat powers could be the mysterious Catwoman.
Chris: It adds absolutely nothing to the plot other than five minutes of absolute stupidity and… and… I told you I didn’t want to talk about it!
David: He asks her out, but she has “business” that night. Then it’s time for an infiltration level. Except that there are no enemies.
Chris: At this point, I’m surprised she’s not in an Ice Castle.
David: Sharon Stone attacks her with a golf club and they wrestle around a little.
Somehow, this isn’t even remotely hot.
Chris: Maybe because of Stone’s 1950s style full pajamas. Which are sort of fetching, in a Laura Petrie sortof way.
David: Sharon Stone pretends to be Catwoman’s friend to help her take down her asshole husband, so she tells her where he is and then gives her her own cellphone, which, I assume, is about to let Sharon Stone track Catwoman.
Chris: Again, you’re too smart for this movie.
David: George is hanging out with the new model at this ridiculous-looking opera house for some sort of nonsensical psychedelic light show, and at this point it strikes me just how much this movie is a really, really crappy Black Swan.
Chris: Do you think that the crazy Cirque Du Soleil number in this movie is what inspired Nolan’s version of Batman’s origin story?
David: I think Nolan never actually saw this movie if he’s anywhere near as smart as his movies make him seem.
Chris: Fair point. The dumbest thing about this scene, though, is that Catwoman tells Eurotrash Husband that she knows he killed Patience. Except that Patience isn’t dead, and he knows that, because he saw her after she supposedly died. So… Why?
David: She also calls Patience “my girl,” and you’d think people would put two and two together except that everyone in this movie is an astonishingly huge moron.
Chris: I mean, there are a lot of movies where a bunch of people try to kill someone, then the victim comes back for revenge, but they kind of all operate on the premise that everyone thinks the victim is dead, and not hanging out at a carnival riding a Ferris wheel with Benjamin Bratt.
David: So George claims to be innocent, which he actually is, but Catwoman doesn’t believe him, but then the cops show up and she runs away by pretending to be part of the circus, before confronting Hot Cop. You know what’s awesome about this scene where she fights Hot Cop? Not once does she actually protest her innocence regarding the dude’s murder. She just snarls at him nonsensically.
Chris: Catwomen aren’t constrained by the rules of society, Uzi. Weren’t you listening to Fake Julie Newmar?
David: Realization: Hot Cop is basically playing Batman in this movie.
Chris: … son of a b***h, you’re right.
David: It’s the exact same wrong-side-of-the-law sexually-charged are-they-f***ing-or-fighting relationship.
Chris: It also explains why he’s the only one in the entire city capable of solving a crime.
David: And why he’s on all of the cases. I guarantee you he was Bruce Wayne in the first draft. As a matter of fact, this entire movie feels like a bizarre, mutated version of Batman Returns. Like it comes from an alternate future where it evolved into something… new.
Chris: Does that make Sharon Stone the Penguin? I mean… It kind of actually does. She’s angry at a society that rejected her because of her looks!
David: She’s Max Shreck! George is Chip. This movie doesn’t have a Penguin, and that’s a blessing for us all.
Chris: You know, that does explain Sharon Stone’s Walkenesque pixie cut.
David: Catwoman gets away from the cops by experimenting with a live wire adorned with a warning label involving an electrocuted cat. Damn you, Pitof.
David: We then discover Sharon Stone has been given superpowers by the beauty cream when she yells at George until he slaps her. Now, let me just get this straight: Their master plan is to produce an addictive beauty cream that … gives people superpowers?
Chris: Yes. But if you stop using it, you lose your super-powers and also turn into a monster.
David: Is that a way out of this movie? Where’s the beauty cream?
Chris: Nothing about this makes sense, but this makes a special kind of anti-sense. If they have a cream that gives you “living marble” skin, why not, you know, sell it to the military for BILLIONS OF DOLLARS.
David: Out on a hot date after two really pointless gettin’-ready scenes, Patience and Tom are at a sushi bar, and Patience eats a lot of sushi, because she likes fish, because… wait for it… she is a cat.
Chris: The part where she’s shoving raw fish into her mouth was all I could think about during the later scene where she’s making out with Hot Cop. Maybe she’s the Penguin in this movie…
David: There’s a really awful date scene that I don’t even want to talk about, since it’s just a series of cliches played out regarding secret identity romantics. She’s about to tell Lone that she’s Catwoman, but then it’s about to rain, and she runs away since she hates the rain, because she is a cat. Then they kiss in a storefront instead. Oh, and have sex. During which she scratched him on his back shoulder! Because she’s a cat!
Chris: Was I the only one legitimately surprised that Pitof didn’t follow in Tim Burton’s footsteps and have Hot Cop wake up to find Patience sleeping on the floor in the sunny spot in front of a window?
David: And she discovers one of the diamond-tipped claws which she explicitly showed him earlier. Because Catwoman is an idiot.
Chris: Oh man. I hope you guys are ready for some science.
David: So he ganks a water glass, because it’ll have her fingerprints on it. And then Sharon Stone calls Catwoman on her state-of-the-art Nokia videophone. I’m sorry, I’m laughing, I just said “state-of-the-art” and “Nokia” in the same sentence.
Chris: Oh Uzi, how wrong you are. See, I also sassumed that we were about to get some fingerprints, but there is even more definitive evidence on the way.
David: … I did not just see that.
David: Tom Lone… Tom Lone gets a forensic match made between a lipstick mark on his cheek and one on the glass Patience was drinking from.
Chris: Looks like she just kissed her freedom… goodbye.
David: The thing is, this is the kind of thing that would be awesome if Batman did it.
Chris: No it wouldn’t.
David: In a scene that actually made me wonder if I’d accidentally rewound, Patience breaks into the manor again, because Sharon tells Patience that they’re gonna announce Beauline tomorrow and that she’s gonna try to stop George. This is her VILLAINOUS PLOT. She then gets framed for the murder of George, because she’s an idiot, in what might be the most hilariously melodramatic set-up scene I’ve ever seen.
Chris: Sadly, cats can’t tell when someone is doing a super-villain monologue, so Patience also lacks even the smallest amount of perceptive abilities.
David: Sharon Stone even throws the murder weapon at Patience, which not only does she catch, she also freaks out about, which makes no sense since she is wearing leather gloves.
Chris: Fortunately, she’s able to make her escape by disguising herself as a breakdancer.
David: She finds out that she was framed for the death of George (duh) by seeing the newscast on a gigantic HDTV on a random street corner, and is confronted by Hot Cop when she gets home.
Chris: Then she gets arrested and sent to prison for life. The End. What’s on deck for next week, Uzi?
David: Then Patience keeps referring to Catwoman as a separate person in her interrogation, and starts crying and appealing to Hot Cop’s trust. Why Hot Cop is able to interrogate her completely solo so she can prey on his feelings is completely beyond me.
Chris: You would also think that they wouldn’t want a cop to be interrogating his girlfriend, but I guess when you only have one detective in your town…
David: This is also the cleanest interrogation room in the history of police. Despite everyone involved knowing that she has special cat lady powers, they lock her up in station lockdown.
Chris: This of course leads to a part where Halle Berry, a super-thin actress, is able to just walk out by turning sideways and walking through the bars. This is not a joke. This is what happens.
David: She’s lithe and agile, Chris. LIKE A CAT.
Chris: Yeah, but here’s the thing: There’s nothing about this that really seems like it’s related to cat powers. Instead, it just makes me think that a crime syndicate composed of supermodels and actresses would be unstoppable, assuming you didn’t employ actual doors. I’d watch that movie.
David: Then she Solid Snakes her way out of the building and somehow manages to land on the street right in front of a super-expensive car that stops RIGHT behind her somehow despite it not seeing her until she landed. Then she steals it. Our Heroine, everybody!
Chris: It’s also a Jaguar. Which we know because she almost fellates the hood ornament. Because it’s a cat.
David: Catwoman shows up at the Beauline distribution warehouse in full costume. Didn’t the cops find that?
Chris: And did any of the cops at all think that maybe the woman who was really angry with her husband for replacing her in both her job and their bedroom with a younger woman and had now gained control of the entire corporation and seemed super-happy about everything was maybe a viable suspect?
David: Apparently not! Tom Lone goes to bother her at the Beauline release party where everyone gets free samples, accuses her of her villainous plot, and then gets shot. Catwoman shows up with a whip to save him, and then they run through some stairwells. “You don’t wanna kill a cop!” “I’m a woman, Lone. I’m used to doing all kinds of things I don’t want to do.” That dialogue, oh God. This climax really sucks, man.
Chris: What, did you think it was suddenly going to get good now?
David: Yeah, but this is BORING sucks. I mean, it already was, but this just isn’t even a little bit funny. While fighting Sharon Stone, Catwoman reveals she’s Patience, which Sharon Stone apparently did not know, despite PATIENCE BEING ARRESTED BY THE POLICE FOR BEING CATWOMAN NO LESS THAN 20 MINUTES EARLIER
Chris: Catwoman and Sharon Stone then have this big karate fight, which makes sense because Catwoman used her cat powers to beat the living hell out of four gigantic armed robbers in the first half of the movie, but that’s okay because Sharon Stone has an invulnerable face and neck. Oh, and at one point, Sharon Stone kicks her out a window, but Catwoman uses an E-Tank to get her life bar back up and pelvic thrusts her way back into the fight.
David: Sharon actually goes “Game OVER” and Catwoman goes “Guess what? It’s… OVERTIME!”
Chris: Twenty-eight writers.
David: Because Sharon Stone hasn’t done Beauline for at least like ten minutes, she starts to get ugly, so when she gets dangling from the tower and Catwoman tries to save her, she sees her own reflection and jumps, landing right in the middle of the Hedare crest in the main hall.
Chris: This. Makes. No. Sense.
David: And that’s the origin story of Killer Croc, everybody!
David: Tom Lone helps Patience get back to her cell so nobody notices she was gone and nobody knows she was Catwoman, and then she repays him by leaving him a Dear John letter at a date and replaying the rooftop walking scene from the beginning of this installment. Thank God, this stupid movie is over. I’m so sorry I ever proposed this.
Chris: You should be.
Chris: You realize that trying to figure out a low point is going to be just as hard as trying to figure out a high point, right?
David: Jean-Philippe, what’d you think of this movie?
Chris: I would pay good money to watch Ebert and Fantomex At The Movies.
David: This movie is a straight line, everybody. There are no good parts. There are no bad parts. Just a neverending din of sub-mediocrity. This movie is like nails on chalkboard, neverending and monotonous. It is completely bereft of any original thought.
Chris: I disagree. I think there’s actually a point where you can tell they just completely stop giving a damn.
David: When, the “Warner Bros.” logo?
Chris: Well, yes, but also the fact that everything in the last half hour of the movie happens IN ONE NIGHT. Hot Cop and Patience go on their date, right? Then they go home and have sex, and Hot Cop finds the diamond claw and goes to get it analyzed right away. Patience then gets a call from Sharon Stone, and goes to see her. Then she gets framed for the murder, and gets arrested by Hot Cop. Then, she escapes from her cell, and goes to fight Sharon Stone, who is launching her product even later at night ON THE SAME NIGHT THAT HER HUSBAND WAS MURDERED. Then Patience gets back to her cell “by morning.”
David: I honestly figured the analysis took place during an unseen day.
Chris: But Catwoman gets the call and goes directly to Sharon Stone’s house!
David: You’re right.
Chris: So basically, nobody even tried to think about the most basic sequences of events in this movie. They just gave up. Like we should’ve.
Chris: As you may expect, Catwoman was a big “winner” at the Golden Raspberry Awards (which for those of you who don’t know are “awards” given to the worst movies of the year), but when Halle Berry won “Worst Actress,” she actually accepted it in person, while holding her Oscar. Which, c’mon, is pretty awesome.
Chris: According to Wikipedia, her acceptance speech was: “”First of all I want to thank Warner Brothers. Thank you for putting me in a piece of sh*t, God-awful movie . . . It was just what my career needed.””
David: Hahahaha, that’s AMAZING.
Chris: Halle Berry don’t shiv.
David: The thing is, Halle Berry’s a pretty great actress, who just seems to make astonishingly poor decisions as to what films to take. Swordfish, this, X3… I mean, she was easily the worst part of the X-Men movie. She’s a fairly unquestionably talented actress, and so is Sharon Stone. Which goes to show just how important good scripting and direction is.
Chris: But now, we no longer have to worry about that, because next week, we’re starting in on Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins.
David: You guys are probably expecting us to fawn over this movie, and, well, we’re going to try really, really hard not to, and to be as pedantic as we’ve been with the other flicks. But I’m sorry, guys, this movie is just SO DAMN GOOD. I will not lie to you: Batman Begins was, until The Dark Knight, the happiest three hours I ever spent in a movie theater.
Chris: So be here next week, when Remedial Batmanology watches a good one for once!
David: And we see how many times in the movie someone mentions fear!