Catwoman

on July 23, 2004 by Tim Cogshell
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Conceived by legendary comic creator Bob Kane as one of many nemeses to his quintessential hero Batman, there have been many versions of Catwoman over the years. On the campy "Batman" '60s television series, both Julie Newmar and Eartha Kitt prowled in the black catsuit; Newmar's take was more sexually frustrated and coy, while Kitt was all feminine empowerment. Even her purring was more aggressive. For the 1992 bigscreen "Batman Returns," Michelle Pfeiffer's version splits the difference. Her Selina Kyle/Catwoman was in heat and a little angry. For the first Catwoman project not involving a Bat, Halle Berry's Patience Phillips/Catwoman is also an amalgamation of sorts. Like Selina, the mousy Patience apologizes for her own existence, while her Catwoman persona is kinda horny and morally ambiguous. In any case, the framework for the movie is fairly trite, employing a Catwoman heritage myth explained by a mysterious figure called Ophelia (Frances Conroy of "Six Feet Under") and nary an original thought.

Patience is a talented designer at Hedare Cosmetics, a company headed by the requisitely evil George and Laurel Hedares (played sharply by Lambert Wilson and Sharon Stone), both of whom have a number of wicked-good lines in a script otherwise lacking narrative drive. Laurel is a fading ex-supermodel and she's pissy about it. She has created an anti-aging cream that works--until you stop using it, at which point it leaves its victims deformed (a familiar element from the original "Batman"). Patience stumbles across the scheme and is murdered; then, a strange Egyptian cat revives her and she is imbued with extraordinary feline attributes executed by a terrible GGI version of her that is truly laughable.

Benjamin Bratt plays Tom Lone, a cop smitten by Patience but intrigued by the wickedly delicious Catwoman. Berry's Catwoman is in fact delicious as the feline anti-hero, though the catsuit she dons could use a revamp (the open-toed heels are just ridiculous), and her motivations need work. Overall, the performances of Berry and Stone are the only things one can sink their claws into here. Starring Halle Berry, Benjamin Bratt, Sharon Stone, Lambert Wilson, Frances Conroy and Alex Borstein. Directed by Pitof. Written by John D. Brancato, Michael Ferris and John Rogers. Produced by Denise D. Novi and Edward McDonnell. A Warner Bros. release. Action. Rated PG-13 for action violence and some sensuality. Running time: 104 min

Tags: Halle Berry, Benjamin Bratt, Sharon Stone, Lambert Wilson, Frances Conroy and Alex Borstein. Directed by Pitof. Written by John D. Brancato, Michael Ferris and John Rogers. Produced by Denise D. Novi and Edward McDonnell. A Warner Bros., action
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