I, Nate Boss, do solemnly swear to resist making cat references in this review. I will not call the film the equivalent of a turd in a litter box. I won't say meow, not even once. Nothing will be called purr-fect. If anything, by the time I'm finished talking about 'Catwoman,' I'll have PETA sending buckets of blood my way, and I'm fine with that. Rather than be "clever" with cat analogies, brutal honesty will be the way to go.
A burlap sack and a river, that's the kind of treatment 'Catwoman' deserves. With all the big dogs in the yard, all dominated by super masculine men with rippling muscles and amazing powers dominating the superhero genre, they are the river that is raring to drown this mangy screaming animal in the bag. Comics rarely have a female heroine/anti-heroine leading the magazine, as they're often found in superhero teams, and it seems that Hollywood doesn't take super-heroines seriously, either, as they are now 0 for 2 in this regard, with 'Catwoman' and 'Elektra' showing that plot isn't as important to some as scripts full of puns and overt sexuality.
Patience Phillips (Halle Berry) is your typical good hearted but timid under-appreciated artist working for the big corporation, until she overhears the wrong information about the company's new product, and is snuffed by a really big pipe full of water. Or so they thought.
Patience washes up on an island full of felines, and is reborn with the spirit of the cats. Now, Patience hates dogs, loves catnip and sushi, is nimble, and possesses super agility and stealth. Donning a kinky leather outfit, she becomes the Catwoman, and searches out the reasons for her newfound powers, leading her to a confrontation with former model Laurel Hedare (Sharon Stone), all while toeing the line to not have her identity revealed, least of all by boyfriend/detective Tom Lone (Benjamin Bratt).
Disaster! I don't know how the film could be any worse. Berry is a disaster in the role (which earned her a Razzie award for worst actress, where she admitted how God awful the film was), laying down an odd mixture of timidness and self-assuredness, a conflicted mess that is complemented by a throng of 'Batman and Robin' level awful puns around every turn. Imagine a high school "actor" playing two roles with polar opposite personalities and you know what to expect from the Oscar winning actress here. The film wants to portray Patience/Catwoman in a sexy manner, with the super skimpy leather outfit, with multiple close quarters confrontations that border on a "rubbing" fetish. She'd honestly be much sexier if she just shut up, as every word out of her mouth is likely to induce self mutilation, which may be less painful.
Good taste is assaulted around every corner. From cat shamans with magical cat breath, to Berry rubbing up on catnip (seriously, catnip), an awkward/horrendous basketball "match" showing off her new talents, and perhaps the worst late '90's/early 00's cliche in the books: the internet search montage, there is bad scene after bad scene after worse scene that is insulting at the very least. Let's not forget the portrayal of spousal abuse in the film, played in a serious manner with Laurel being slapped by her husband George (Lambert Wilson), that reveals Laurel's powers that have been infused by her Beau-line chemicals. No matter how disgustingly awful Sharon Stone has been in film for the last decade, especially this film, I hardly think a slap to the face is justified!
The direction, by one name wonder Pitof, is epic in its ineptitude. I often wondered how many takes each scene had, considering how bad the product on screen is. The camerawork is poor, with an excessive number of swooping movements that quickly become incredibly annoying. Why did Warner Brothers even bother releasing this film? Did they never watch the dailies? There had to have been terrible test screenings results, and bad studio reception. Perhaps face had to be saved, as this film cost the studio an estimated nine digits, and at least some recoup was necessary for heads to not roll. I'd like to believe that had Warner destroyed 'Catwoman' before it hit theaters that world peace would have broken out, famine defeated, and disease cured.
'Catwoman' arrives on a BD25 Single Layer disc with a bit of hilarious controversy, as it seems Warner Bros conveniently "forgot" to put the name of the film on the spine of the packaging. Could they be ashamed of the product, or are they being great wingmen by not embarrassing those who do buy the film? This is most certainly a first pressing error (that will be of no collecting value, really) to be corrected on newer pressings, but damn if it isn't funny.
'Catwoman' the film may be an utter waste of time, energy, money, shelf space, store space, plastic, paper, and the Blu-ray disc it was pressed on, but how does it look? Well, the VC-1 encode (at 1080p) is less than stellar.
Detail can be strong, and the picture sports a nice bit of 3D pop. Colors are strong, possibly too damn strong, excessively oversaturated to the point that some give off a soft glow. The sequences that zoom in terms of time lapsed look fantastic, with great color pop and superb minute detail.
Artifacts are visible in darker shots in the opening sequence (you know, the one detailing cats in history), and most darker shots in the film have quite a bit of these nice blocks showing compression issues. The cat rebirth scene, on cat island, is one of the worst when it comes to these issues.
Perhaps listing all the issues with this transfer would be easier to do with a checklist. Edge enhancement? Present and accounted for, and it's not hard to spot. Delineation? Utterly terrible, with numerous scenes sucking all detail from around them into the abyss. Skin tones? Constantly orange or yellow, rarely accurate and natural. DNR? That's not DNR...New Line applied a layer of Beau-line to the transfer (in other words, yes, things look a bit tampered with, kinda waxy and unnatural). Digital Noise? It comes on in onslaughts. The coup de grâce? In the climactic final battle between bad actresses, teeth shine green, glowing more than the rest of the scene. It's seriously gross.
No matter what, some part of this Blu-ray would have had to score higher than others, and therefore be considered the highlight of the release. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track that defaults when the film plays (after all, this is a Warner/New Line release, there's no main menu prompt) gets to take a bow by default, despite not being all that amazing.
Dialogue comes through clear, with nary a word being too low or soft to be heard, not that hearing every line of 'Catwoman' is a good thing. Honestly, it's worth considering dropping the score just for having to hear every line of this tortuous film. Patience's office is full of random ambiance and activity through every speaker, a pleasant surprise that doesn't feel forced or unnatural.
There's the occasional bit of localized sound that is soft and understated, though utilization of this effect, or movement, can be sparse at best. Bass levels were impressive, with some nice hints in the score and atmosphere, and nearly every impact in fight sequences, along with a strong rumble coming from shotgun fire in the jewelry store robbery. However, gunshots in the very same sequence were flat and had no punch whatsoever. Gunfire doesn't impress when it comes to speaker location, either. Annoyingly, the background noise, which is meant to make the film seem to be in a busy city, can overpower sequences at times, often rivaling the action.
While 'Catwoman' isn't that old a film, this set of extras sure does feel aged beyond belief. The fact that everything is in SD also doesn't help.
'Catwoman' belongs in a bonfire rather than on store shelves or in personal collections. The film has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, not even unintentional comedy. This Blu-ray release of one of the worst films ever made sports average video and somewhat solid audio, and a lackluster set of extras. Batman completists may find the need to add this film to their collection, but everyone else needs to resist the cat call and avoid this title for their own good.