Thursday, February 18, 2016

Cats before Bats

This post is going to be about Catwoman (2004), but give me a minute to get to it.

We recently watched the first season of Gotham (2015). It took a few episodes to get into it, but we wound up liking it a lot. It has a great look, and some great characters - although they tend to be a bit on the grotesque side. So when we were done, we decided to give Birds of Prey (2002) a try.

I assumed you've heard of Gotham (elevator pitch: Batman without Batman), but you might not have heard of BoP - I hadn't. The pitch is Batman after Batman - Batman leaves "New Gotham" in the hands of three female superhero vigilantes. Although the overall feel is similar to Gotham, the production values are much lower, the villains less interesting, and the overall Girl Power dynamic just didn't do it for us. We dropped it after 4 episodes (the rest of the public after ~6 or7, the network after 13).

Now, Catwoman is another Batman w/o Batman story - except that it really isn't. Batman isn't in the movie, even as an absense. It doesn't even seem to take place in "Gotham" - just in some city (Vancouver, if I had to guess). Halle Berry plays a ditsy graphic artist for a cosmetics company. She gets pushed around by her boss, goofs around with her wacky office friends, meets a cute policeman (Benjamin Bratt). This all plays more like a rom-com than an action film. But she finds out the deadly secret that company owner Lambert Wilson and his wife and ex-top model Sharon Stone, and she is killed.

Except a clowder of cats (that is the collective term) revive her and give her cat powers. She gets to spend the rest of the movie split between shy, retiring artist and outrageous jewel-thief and vigilante. The McGuffin turns out to be a toxic and addictive beauty cream that turns women's faces to stone. Oh, I just got it - Sharon Stone! Who is a sort of the exemplar of a woman considered by some to be too old to be beautiful, who may need some kind of treatment that paralyzes the facial muscles, etc. Actually, that's pretty well done.

Halle Berry's action scenes are also pretty nifty, and her catsuit is mrreooow! I also rather like the rom-com stuff - I quite like Benjamin Bratt in this this. All in all, I can't really understand why everyone hates this movie.

Well, yes I can. It really isn't that well written, and the CGI cats were pretty weak. Still, mono-named Euro-director Pitof managed to get a lot of style into this, so you can at least enjoy it as stylish camp.

But it's not really part of the DC Universe, so I can skip any comparison to Gotham or Birds of Prey. Don't know why I brought them up.

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