Catwoman is a 2004 American superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name, who is traditionally an anti-heroine and love interest of the vigilante hero Batman. The plot features a new character, Patience Phillips, taking on the Catwoman name, and viewing the traditional Catwoman as a historical figure.
The idea of a Catwoman spin-off came around the time of Summer 1993 when 1992's Batman Returns was released in theaters, as Michelle Pfeiffer's portrayal of the character proved popular with the audiences. However, Michelle was also busy being a mother at the same time plus being busy with other projects, so she couldn't reprise her role.
The movie remained in development hell for another 9 years until news came out that Halle Berry would be playing the titular character and the movie was finally made. When it did finally come out in 2004, however, it was overwhelmingly panned by critics and audiences alike for having almost nothing to do with the character it's based on (to the point in a case similar to Godzilla 1998 where the movie was referred as CINO (Catwoman In-Name Only) and cashing into a trend way too late.
Artist and graphics designer Patience Phillips (Halle Berry) is a meek people-pleaser whose main support is her best friend Sally (Alex Borstein). She works for a cosmetics company called Hedare Beauty, which is ready to ship a new skin cream, called Beau-line, that is able to reverse the effects of aging. However, when Patience visits the factory where it is being manufactured, she overhears a discussion between the scientist, Dr. Ivan Slavicky (Peter Wingfield), and Laurel Hedare (Sharon Stone), the wife of company-owner George Hedare (Lambert Wilson), about the dangerous side effects from continued use of the product. Laurel's guards discover Patience and are ordered to dispose of her. Patience tries to escape using a conduit pipe, but the minions have it sealed and flush her out of it, drowning her. Washed up on shore after drowning, Patience is mysteriously brought back to life by an Egyptian Mau cat, which had appeared at her apartment earlier; from that moment on, she develops cat-like abilities.
From Mau's owner, eccentric researcher Ophelia Powers (Frances Conroy), Patience learns that Egyptian Mau cats serve as messengers of the goddess Bast. Patience realizes that she is now a "catwoman," reborn with abilities that are both a blessing and a curse. Disguised as Catwoman to hide her identity, Patience, under cover of darkness, searches for answers as to who killed her and why. Eventually, her search (which includes finding Slavicky's body, and later being arrested for his murder) leads her to Laurel. She asks Laurel to keep an eye on George, to which Laurel agrees. However, when Patience confronts George (who is at an opera with another woman), he reveals he knows nothing about the side effects. The police arrive and Catwoman escapes. Later on, Laurel murders her husband, and admits to killing Dr. Slavicky because he wanted to cancel the product's release. She contacts Catwoman and frames her for the murder. Catwoman is taken into custody by the police, but not before Laurel reveals the side-effects of the product: Discontinuing its use makes the skin disintegrate, while continuing its use makes the skin as hard as marble. She also plans to release the Beau-line the following day.
Patience slips out of her jail cell, and confronts Laurel in her office, revealing that Laurel is the one responsible for her death. During the fight, she scratches Laurel's face, and Laurel nearly plummets to her death when she falls out of a window, grabbing onto a pipe for her life. Laurel sees her face in a reflection and, horrified by her skin's rapid disintegration, commits suicide by letting go of the pipe. Though Patience is cleared of any charges made against her regarding the deaths of Dr. Slavicky and the Hedares, she chooses to continue living outside the law, enjoying her new-found freedom as the mysterious Catwoman.
Why It Sucks
- The film has almost no connection with the Batman anti-heroine character of the same name. If anything, it feels more like a gender-swapped (and animal-swapped) version of The Crow.
- The character was renamed Patience Phillips instead of Selina Kyle unlike her comic book counterpart, making this movie rather structured like a spin-off.
- Mediocre plot.
- Idiotic characters.
- Poor writing, and editing (with certain scenes literally cutting to themselves).
- Unconvincing villains. They're an evil make-up company, which plan seems to have a kind of positive effect instead of a negative one (if the make-up is constantly applied, the skin will become indestructible).
- Lackluster CGI.
- Halle Berry is absolutely terrible in this film, and she even admitted that she was put in a terrible movie while accepting the Golden Rasperry award.
- Needless sexual scenes.
- Bad costume design that looks nothing like the comic costumes.
- Laughably terrible dialogue. When Laurel said "Game Over" and Patience responds by saying "It's over time." That line did not make any sense!!!
- Between the critical and box-office failures of this movie and the following year's equally awful Elektra (on top of an existing appalling track record including Barb Wire and the Supergirl movie) the major studios refused to produce any more superheroine-focused films until the 2017 Wonder Woman film.
- The Basketball scene is very cringy.
- The scene where Patience is jumping across different buildings, you can clearly tell that the whole scene was CGI and not a stunt double.
The Only Redeeming Quality
- Some detractors (including The Nostalgia Critic) argue that Halle Berry gave a decent performance with the horrendous material she was given.
Catwoman received negative reviews from critics and audiences. The film currently holds a 9% with a critic consensus that reads “Halle Berry is the lone bright spot, but even she can't save this laughable action thriller.” Roger Ebert awarded the film a one star out of four and described it as “Tired and dated.”
The film opened up at #3 on its opening weekend with a domestic gross of $16,728,411. It would later gross $40,202,379 domestically. In foreign countries, it made $41,900,000. Overall, the film made $82,102,379 against its $100 million budget, making it a box-office disappointment.
Awards and nominations
The film won four Golden Raspberry Awards including Worst Picture and Worst Actress and was nominated for seven including Worst Supporting Actress. When Halle Berry accepted her Award, she stated, "First of all, I want to thank Warner Brothers. Thank you for putting me in a piece of shit, god-awful movie... It was just what my career needed."
- Ashley Judd and Nicole Kidman were both considered to play Patience, whose original surname was going to be "Price".