Catwoman’s Poor Reputation
A couple of weeks ago I watched Catwoman starring Halle Berry, a movie with a terrible reputation. For example it has a score of 3.2 (out of 10) on Internet Movie Database, a 9% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes* and gets user reviews like this one from udeaasykle from IMDB.
“DON’T SEE THIS MOVIE” Let me tell you why. If you see this movie and are over the age of 16, you will end up hating yourself for letting yourself rot for 104 minutes without getting anything back, except an increased feeling of wanting to get revenge on Hollywood. They say that it is very hard to get your script into a movie. Well, after seeing this movie, I think a one legged monkey could write a better script, without either pen or paper.
Yet I enjoyed Catwoman and I think it has an unfair reputation!
Catwoman tells the story of Patience Philips who, after being killed, is brought back to life with superhuman powers and defeat an evil Sharon Stone. You can probably guess from that brief plot synopsis that the script is bad, filled with stock characters who verge on being offensive, stupid clichés and dumb action set pieces. The scene on the Ferris-wheel makes Daredevil’s play park fight scene look sensible.
The actors deal with the terrible script in totally different ways. Sharon Stone goes for full pantomime villainy and chews every pieces of scenery going. Luckily her screen time with Catwoman‘s love interest Benjamin Bratt is limited otherwise she would have been chewing on him as well. Never has one man’s performance so closely matched an American Redwood before. Halle Berry, to her credit, embraces the script and throws her all into it. The highlight is her cat acting with my favourite scene being the one where the character Ophelia Powers (yes that is the character’s name!) throws Halle a ball of catnip to play with. The scene is so stupid yet so fun – a great description for the whole movie. Certainly the director, Pitof, gives the film a distinctive style which is something many films lack. Whether he is successful is a matter of opinion.
So why the hate?
To give a sociological answer, it is about a failure of iconography. Up to this point every cinematic version of Catwoman was based around her original comics persona, the cat burglar Selina Kyle. The problem is that the movie ignores all of this, which begs the question:
why call the movie Catwoman?
Simple answer, is to sell tickets. Millions of people, who already love the character will pay to see a movie about her. The problem is the back lash when they discover the film isn’t about the Catwoman they know and love. I think the movie would have had a much better reputation if they’d called it Panther Woman or the Cat. Yes it would have still had script and acting issues but without the fans back lash it would have probably become a cult classic like the thematically similar film, The Crow. Tell me know below if you agree with me! *Interestinglythe Rotten Tomatoes audience rating of Catwoman is 30% which brings it in line IMDB and how much the critics hated it.