Y'know, I have seen this one before, and if I'm perfectly honest, I remember it being in the realm of "so-bad-it's-good". This time around, all I wonder is what the hell I was actually thinking with that idea. 2004's 'Catwoman' is just plain bad. I had actually forgotten about some things with this that I must have filtered out of my memory just because they were that stupid or ridiculous. So, for those of you wondering if this is the Catwoman we all know and love - Selina Kyle, it is not. Nor does it tie in with any sort of 'Batman' title, thank God.
This version features an artist by the name of Patience Phillips (Halle Berry). She's a bit of a pushover and kind of quiet and shy. Working for a cosmetics company called Hedare Beauty, she works under the unjust George Hedare (Lambert Wilson) and his wife Laurel (Sharon Stone). We soon also meet her best friend, co-worker and confidant, Sally (Alex Borstein) who often gives her advice on dating and men, which is probably hard for anyone to buy into. I mean nothing at all against Borstein, I just refuse to believe someone as kind-hearted and drop-dead gorgeous as Patience could possibly need dating advice.
Anyway, Hedare Beauty is about ready to launch a new product - a skin cream called Beau-line (pronounced "bew-line", not "bow-line", as it looks) that's able to reverse the effects of aging. Patience one day overhears a conversation Laurel has with Dr. Ivan Slavicky (Peter Wingfield) about the dangerous side effects of the product from continual use. She is discovered, however, and a chase ensues that eventually leads to Patience getting flushed out of a conduit pipe and essentially killed. However, washed up on shore, an Egyptian Mau cat who seemingly has the power to breathe new life into the dead revives her. This is where things get crazy.
When Midnight (the Mau) revives Patience, the cat transfers over a good chunk of cat brain power as well. This includes cool things like the cat-like reflexes Catwoman is well-known for, along with a complete attitude and confidence change. But in this version, she also gets things like a love of catnip, a desire to play with bugs, scurrying across her floor, and... actually this part is kind of cool, but she also inherits cat-vision and cat-hearing. But for as neat as those last two things might be, part of what made Catwoman appealing was a lack of superpowers. There's that part of any Batman fan watching this all and having to say "You're doing it wrong."
Throughout a good chunk of the film, we get various demonstrations of her abilities. This is all well and good, but there's a scene involving a one-on-one basketball game between Patience and her love interest here, Tom Lone (Benjamin Bratt). It's one of those unnecessarily crow-barred-in scenes that tries to be fun and cute, but it's so reminiscent of something from the early 90s that it feels completely outdated and unnecessary. Besides, we see all of this ability from her otherwise, so what was the point, really? But I digress. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that she's gonna use these powers not only for some kind of revenge, but to stop the spread of this new product before people get crazy Freddy Krueger skin.
So, from what I've mentioned, things might sound just "bad" and not quite as awful as I may have lead on. But let's just explore the magical mystical aspects of this a bit further. Going back to the cat, Midnight, she (or he? I wasn't clear) belongs to Patience's neighbour, Ophelia Powers, who has a bit of a cat obsession. It's through her that we learn Egyptian Maus serve as messengers for the Egyptian Goddess, Bast; a lioness-like goddess. These cats are able to breathe new life into women and form "Catwomen", and Patience is one of them in a long line.
So basically, this whole thing is a full reimagining of Catwoman, complete with a whole new character. All in all, this is quite simply something no one asked for. IF they felt so inclined to give Catwoman her own movie, they could have done a much, much better job than this, using the classic Selena Kyle's name. Halle Berry still could have played her, and it could have been progressive for its time. I'm actually convinced that under the right director, she could be amazing in this role. But no, this was directed by the one and only Pitof... I know, "who?"
Well, Pitof is probably better known as a special effects guy, working on such films as 'Alien: Resurrection' among other somewhat lesser-known titles. As far as his directing goes, this would be his claim to fame, apart maybe from a film before this called 'Vidocq'... which I may have to check out one day. But it was clear at the time here that he was pretty inexperienced in that director's chair. It just makes me wonder what the studio was thinking about this whole mess. It just feels like an incredibly cheap money grab, using names to put butts in seats.
I may be a little more down on DC movies than most, although I do enjoy a good chunk of them still. But I would be hard-pressed to claim that any DC movie could possibly be beneath 'Catwoman' here. It tried to reinvent the character and failed miserably because, quite simply, no real 'Batman' or 'Catwoman' fan needed a change. It's a good example of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". And using dangerous beauty products is lifted right out of '89's 'Batman', so it's not like any ideas were very new here... other than the version of Catwoman no one asked for. In the grand scheme of DC releases, this is one to dump in the litter box.