Susan and Ed watch Empire’s 25 worst movies of the last twenty five years. Why are we doing this? That’s an excellent question, let me know if you figure out the answer.
It’s difficult to envisage how a movie which involves Halle Berry clad in a tight leather outfit could fail to be even marginally entertaining, and yet Catwoman easily clears this hurdle, and manages to make the whole thing boring. The tragedy is that this is one of the rare films with a female lead, a female villain, and a female mentor. I would have bent over backwards to like this movie, but not even I am capable of the mental gymnastics required.
Halle plays the lead character, whose name, it turns out, I have completely forgotten. She is a beautiful person’s idea of what an ugly person looks like, i.e. a beautiful person in baggy clothes. Needless to say there’s a love interest, a cop who meets her when he thinks she’s trying to commit suicide. He saves her life and finds out she was just doing something mind-blowingly stupid, and naturally wants to have coffee with her. Who doesn’t like having coffee with crazy people?
After that busy morning schedule it’s back to work for Halle, where she meets her co-workers. Wouldn’t you know it, the last movie had an offensively stereotyped black guy, and this one has an offensively stereotyped gay guy. It’s like a bingo challenge!
Anyway, there’s some business with a poisonous face cream, leading to the hilarious first act finale, where Halle gets flushed down the drain. Her dead body is washed up on a beach and surrounded by a group of CGI cats, who are all firmly in the middle of the uncanny valley, and is brought back to life by the breath of the chief cat (played by a most attractive Egyptian Mau). Cat breath is indeed powerful stuff, and can certainly wake you from a very sound sleep, if not from death.
Halle is guided in her journey firstly by the internet, which tells her something mystical is going on, in the first of two bold foreshadowings of Twilight. When I tried searching for ‘women’ and ‘cats’ I was guided to a DVD of Joanna Lumley talking about cats, but there you go. Then she finds an academic who was denied tenure and now lives in a house filled with cats, which seems reasonable. The mentor informs Halle that being Catwoman gives her confidence. She then pushes Halle off a balcony, something I’m surprised that Obi Wan never tried with Luke.
Unfortunately Halle survives, due to her super-mad cat skillz, and her destiny is revealed through pictures of previous catwomen, one of which precipitated a bit of an argument:
Boyfriend: Is that woman catching a fish?
Me: That’s not a fish, that’s a dragon.
Boyfriend: Maybe it’s an eel.
Me: Because eels are normally forty foot long.
Boyfriend: And women normally behave like cats… wait, actually, you totally sit in your pajamas eating tuna out of a tin. Maybe you’re catwoman?
Increased confidence for Halle seems to translate to lots of violence, involving more unconvincing CGI. When she’s fighting she looks more like a demented monkey than a cat. And the walk? Cats don’t swing their hips. There are some interesting things you can do with the idea of animal characteristics (e.g. the first season of Dark Angel), but sadly none of them are here.
Anyway, obviously she reacts to the news by dressing up in ripped leather trousers and a leather bra (amazingly boyfriend was OK with this bit). She doesn’t need to search for the villains since she psychically knows where they are. So she acquires a whip, quickly dispatches some minions, and goes in search of the evil big boss. There’s an attempt to have a twist as to whether it’s the husband or wife, somewhat spoiled by the fact that the wife was shown talking about the evil face cream and ordering Halle’s death twenty minutes in. It turns out the evil face cream turns your skin into beautiful marble, just like a Twilight vampire, only with less awesome hair. There is a fight, some non-sequiturs masquerading as quips (‘It’s overtime!’), and the villain is flung from the top of a skyscraper, finishing the movie with a somersault that I would give a 3.5/10.
Making a terrible mistake can often present remarkable opportunities to learn and grow as a person. The fact that Halle turned up to collect the Razzie that she was awarded for this movie suggests both courage and an enduring sense of humour. I can only hope that the knowledge that she acquired was put to good use. At least she would have the sense to keep out of future catastrophes, even if others were tempted in. Take last year’s ill-advised comedy Movie 43, with so many stars it needs an astronomer to sort them all out. This experience would have made her run a mile from that train wreck… wouldn’t it?