Watching claws being scraped against a chalkboard apparently isn’t any more enjoyable than listening to it.
Patience Phillips (Halle Berry) is a mousy employee who dreams of being an artist while she wastes away illustrating ads for a cosmetic company owned by Laurel Hedare (Sharon Stone) and her shady husband. On her way to deliver a new artistic design for a special project, Patience overhears something she shouldn’t have and (naturally) winds up dead. Suddenly, every cat in the city shows up near her body, something mystical occurs, and now Patience can’t seem to stop eating tuna, stop pawing at a police detective (Benjamin Bratt), or generally stay out of trouble.
Once upon a time, someone actually had an cool idea: what if the comic book character ‘catwoman’ wasn’t just one person but several woman throughout history being empowered in their time of need? It sounds interesting, right up until you figure out it’s just being used as an excuse to make another Catwoman movie without stepping on any previously established stories (such as Warner Bros. Batman franchise). In doing do, the WB sought to make a comic book film that’s never actually ever existed as a comic book.
The good news is that Ms. Berry pulls off the Catwoman mystique (and, yes, the costume, too) and that the scenes between her and Bratt show real chemistry; small wonder since Brat earned his wings long ago for playing the sensitive mostly-tough guy (Miss Congeniality, Demolition Man). Other moments of empowerment and revenge (ala The Mask) are fun, too; any opportunity to watch Halle PLAY Catwoman seems to work.
The problem is that everything else refuses to support Berry’s performance or Bratt’s chemistry with her. Every opportunity is wasted either due to bad editing or squandering a story moment in favor of something silly. In addition, all the action sequences have been cut up into such tiny fragments that everything looks like a music video, but the continuous sequences are nearly all computer animation, which makes the film feels like EA Games was a second unit director (even the cat resurrection scene looks obvious). This shouldn’t be too surprising since most of the director’s credits are for visual effects supervision and NOT directing.
Sharon Stone was equally a waste, and the ending is neither exciting nor makes any more sense than an evil cosmetology scheme. A mysterious cat lady with all the answers (Frances Conroy) is almost laughable she’s so wooden, and the only innovative thing the director has managed to do here is make a one hour and forty-five minute movie feel twice as long (and not in a good way). Unless you absolutely must see Halle wiggling in leather, consider this a puurrr-fectly wasted opportunity for what might have been a fun flick.
(a one skull recommendation out of four)