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– Ode to a Catwoman

I’m going to play fast and loose with the definition of “love” and how it applies to the movies in my collection. What you fine readers must know is how much I can love an unabashedly stupid movie. Also, and may whatever spiritual force have mercy on my soul, I think I secretly adore Halle Berry and her never-ending crusade to make herself look like an evil wench. She’s completely out of her mind, this is certain, but her innate madness led to the creation of one of my favorite and widely despised movies. I’m talking, of course, about Catwoman.

What audiences need to understand, especially if they’re made up of b-goers, is this could very well be considered as much of a turkey as Battlefield Earth. Both chugged along the development track because of the vanity of their stars. John Travolta wanted to make a whiz-bang action fest glorifying L. Ron Hubbard, and Berry wanted to prove to…well, someone, that she could play the headliner in a superhero movie. In the end both celebrities got what they wished for and the resulting disasters are worth noting any day of the week.

I saw Berry’s tale of woman-turned-feline when it was originally released in theaters, and as usual brought a friend or two kicking and screaming for the ride (these are the same friends who also had to watch Thunderbirds, Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever and countless other bombs at their local theater). They of course couldn’t stand what was unreeling before them, a bizarre feminist fable about one gal’s crusade against an evil makeup organization. Okay, can I just say this is a genius plot device? You can’t get any cheesier than having your villains be made up of Clinique-rejects who knowingly release an unsafe face cream. And what’s more, Sharon Stone is their leader. Who can’t squirm with glee over seeing this woman embarrass herself every time she walks in front of the camera?

A major point of discussion must concern this Catwoman’s bevy of powers. Whereas in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns the character was merely a bit of a cook with a penchant for S&M, the new edition actually has cat powers. She contorts like rubber, can leap atop the highest of book shelves, and yes, even has a need to devour shrimp cocktail and pure cream. Can you imagine if any other superhero movie had taken its character so literally? What if Spider-Man shot webs out of a keenly placed hole in his spandex? This kind of direction and basic-decision making is right up there with putting ice skates in George Clooney’s Bat Boots, and I applaud it completely.

As a way of wrapping up my little love letter to Catwoman there are two key scenes I should mention. First there is the oh-so awful basketball game, wherein Berry and her love interest, played by an ever-smirking Benjamin Bratt, take it to the court, as it were. Granted, having about two dozen multi-ethnic kids cheering Berry on in the background was funny in and of itself, but when the song “Scandalous” kicked in I couldn’t stop laughing. Even better is the sequence where Berry commits a jewel heist, realizes her discretion after coming out of her feline stupor, and then leaves detective Bratt some APOLOGY MUFFINS at the scene of the crime. Classic.

So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, my case for loving Catwoman. Considering the many lame, boring, and just plain irritating comic book adaptations to come out of Hollywood in the past few years, this one actually delivers in the Morbid Entertainment Department. Watch some bad CGI, listen to some goofy dialogue, and hoot when Stone finally gets her just desserts for being the wicked makeup tycoon she apparently wanted to portray. It’ll do ya good on a rainy day, trust me.

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