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Directed by Pitof.
Written by John Brancato, Michael Ferris, and John Rogers.  Based on a character by Bob Kane.
Starring Halle Berry, Benjamin Bratt and Sharon Stone.
Release Year:  2004
Review Date:  7/19/04


I was trading e-mails with Tricia "Hot" Ocampo today and she mentioned that she had a freebie to go see "Catwoman" over at the Mazza Gallerie.  Now, even though I had originally planned to get ready for my upcoming move tonight, I saw the open door created by the freebie and decided to run through it.  I really wanted to see "Catwoman" for free because, as I have noted to anyone within earshot for the last two months, I was absolutely sure this flick was going to blow.

And, not kind of blow.  It would be the kind of film that, like a old friend of mine used to predict, would probably "suck hard."  It had all the makings of a shitty film, and with the comic-book-characters-gone-mad progress of comic flicks the last couple of years, this was a property that was better left for dead after Michelle Pfeiffer nailed this role nearly ten years ago for "Batman Returns."  So, I got my friend Colleen "I Loved 'Unbreakable'" Yushchak to tag along and check this puppy out.

Patience Phillips (Halle Berry) is a mid-level manager at a big skin care firm in what looks like New York City, and her career is flatlining at the hands of management, notably the boss's wife and co-partner, aging queenpin Laurel Hedare (Sharon Stone).  When Patience learns of the devastating effects of what happens when people start and continue to use a particular Oil-of-Olay-like beauty cream, she is offed by Hedare and the nefarious company...but, little does she know that she's just offed a Catwoman!  15 minutes later, Patience has the ability to outrun gunfire, cling to walls, and move very ably in skintight leather outfits.

"Catwoman", by its own design, parallels the "Batman" films in so many ways that you get to thinking that the writers didn't even try to come up with anything, from the costumes, to the main plot of "Catwoman" (another chemical that makes people's skin go creepy?  A building that looks not unlike Axis Chemicals, from the first "Batman"?), to the main character duality that is supposed to make all of this really cool and/or interesting, "Catwoman" just feels like one large charade, a pitiful attempt to join the ranks of successful movie comicdom that hits closer to the sloppy "Daredevil" than a quality comic flick like "X2."

Wow, this movie was bad.  The action really is "stylized action", like the MPAA says it is...what makes this difficult is that because it is "stylized", it is incredibly difficult to watch, what with all of the CGI, the swooping, zooming camerawork, and the scattershot editing.  Some of the fight scenes are almost impossible to watch; the way they are cut, you almost wish they would end soon after beginning.  Because Catwoman is cut out of an only partially-costumed human being, the CGI of her flying all over the place looks worse than it does in a movie like "Spider-Man 2", where the main character is fully in costume and doesn't look as silly flying all over the city on his webs.  In "Catwoman", we go from sweeping cat-crawling-up-side-of-building shots to Catwoman standing on two feet, walking like she has the greatest ass of all time (not an argument) and then jumping off another building, right back to the CGI.

The dialogue is mostly bad, the token gay character is just plain bad (even Colleen couldn't take it anymore with the now-requisite funny gay co-worker token; why couldn't we just get another woman that looks other men in the office up and down??), the reasoning behind the Stone character's invincibility is just fucking inane...even an extended third-tier subplot featuring Patience's best friend from work is given too much screen time.

Overall, "Catwoman" is just plain bad.  Two things, and only two things, save it from Hard Vice status:

  1. I saw it for free.  This cannot be understated:  if I had paid money--ANY money--to see "Catwoman", I would have been angry.  As it was, it only cost me Metro fare to see it, and for that, I was quite happy, no matter how good or bad the movie was.

  2. For my money, there won't be a movie this year that has three better-looking people in lead roles than the triumvirate of Halle Berry, Ben Bratt and Sharon Stone.  The real revelation of "Catwoman" has got to be Stone, who you probably thought had gone off and died, but she looks unbelievable in this flick!  She's got to be 50 by now but she looks right at home trading catquips with Berry throughout the film.  Bratt is a good-looking man, and even other men will look at him saying something like I was muttering: "Damn, I'll bet you Ben Bratt is getting laid RIGHT NOW!"  And Berry...well, you know.

Otherwise, you need to seriously look at the money in your wallet before pulling it out and dropping it on this shit.  Not very good, but quite pleasant to look at, and not a bad little soundtrack either.

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09