Postmortem: Catwoman (2004)

If you’re expecting me to say something to the effect that Pitof’s 2004 super hero movie Catwoman is some sort of lost classic then you’re definitely barking up the wrong tree…because it’s not.

And while the buck usually stops with the director, I don’t think that that’s entirely fair in this case, mainly because the writing is so bad that not even Orson Welles could have saved it. Theresa Rebeck, Michael Brancato and Michael Ferris (the latter two are quite prolific writers for movies and television, though it’s telling that they also wrote Surrogates, Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines and Terminator: Salvation.  And as not-so-good as those three movies are, they also wrote The Game, which is awesome).

That being said, the pseudo-mystical angle the writers took is sort of clever in that it doesn’t necessarily invalidate other versions of the character, though it’s a perfect illustration of what happens when you don’t have knowledgable people overseeing development of a property.

That’s exactly why, no matter how much flak Kevin Feige gets from various quarters, no matter what you think about Marvel Studios or superheroes in general, having a unified voice as far as your characters go is pretty useful.

I am also reasonably comfortable assuming Pitof (a nom de plume for Jean-Christophe Comar) was unfamiliar with the character–if he were aware of Catwoman prior I’d imagine he would have had the script go though a few more re-writes–and he does the best with what he has to work with.

And you can tell because visually, it’s a gorgeous movie, and I honestly think Halle Berry has never appeared more beautiful.  She appears to be game for whatever he wants her to do, but for the most part it’s apparent that she’s Acting (and considering what she has to do, I am not sure anyone could have convincingly puled it off), and fewer things take a viewer out of a movie as quickly.

And the movie deserves some sort of award–other than Razzies (and speaking of which, Hally Berry was so classy that she actually attended the ceremony and accepted the award!)–for editing because Sylvie Landra, primarily though cuts, makes the fighting between Berry and Sharon Stone if not plausible (though it both actresses were trained to fight, much less cutting would have been required), at least cohesive, which is saying something.

Some of the CGI is bit dodgy, though it’s often less about how realistic it looks–it’s not terrible, especially if you’ve spent any time at all in the Uncanny Valley–though the actors don’t always sell it.

Screenshot 2016-01-14 17.56.35If Her Mask Were Any Taller, It Would Be A Hat

In the end it all goes back to the writing.  That’s the foundation all those special effects are built on, and if you can’t sell that, then everything else collapses (unless we’re talking about the Transformers movies, where for some reason a cohesive, logical story apparently matters less that the effects themselves).





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