film Catwoman (2004)

Justice is on the prowl.

Promotional poster featuring Halle Berry as Catwoman for Catwoman (2004).
Promotional poster featuring Halle Berry as Catwoman for Catwoman (2004).

It all started on the day that I died. If there had been an obituary, it would have described the unremarkable life of an unremarkable woman, survived by no one. But there was no obituary, because the day that I died was also the day I started to live. But that comes later. This was my life. Days blended together, consistently ordinary, thanks to a job that was the practical version of my passion. I was supposed to be an artist by now. Instead, I was designing ads for beauty cream.– Catwoman

Plot

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Patience Phillips (Halle Berry) is a shy, timid woman working for a cosmetics company. One morning, she sees a cat outside her window. Thinking it is stuck, she Climbs out onto a ledge and nearly falls off. Detective Tom Lone of the police department, spots her and thinks she is attempting suicide, but rescues her when he realizes she is stuck. The two gradually strike up a relationship.

While delivering a new design to her boss, Patience overhears a plot to sell defective beauty products that initially make human skin look younger and prettier; if the product is not used over a long period of time, however, the skin begins to decay. Unfortunately she is spotted at the scene and attempts to flee into a set of water conduits. The pipes are flooded by her pursuers, and she is flushed into the open water and drowns.

After being murdered, she is brought back to life by the cat she saw earlier, because the cat was moved by the fact that she risked her own life for it. When she wakes up, she is transformed into Catwoman, a warrior with the force of a cat, who prowls the night in search of justice. Her behavior becomes cat-like, and she gains heightened reflexes, senses, and physical power.

Determined to discover why she was murdered (having forgotten the events that occurred the night before), Patience re-learns about the beauty product and when she goes to the factory where the product is made, she finds a scientist who protested against the product’s release murdered. Before she can investigate further, however, the night guard spots her and sounds the alarm. Patience quickly flees the factory. She then informs her boss’s wife, Laurel Hedare, about the plan and asks her to keep an eye out for anything unusual.

Catwoman then heads to the opera house where her boss, George, is attending a play with another woman. She confronts him about the product, but he doesn’t know about it’s toxic after-effects. The police arrive and chase Catwoman, who is able to escape by cutting off the power.

Patience and Lone then go out on a date at a sushi resturant, where they talk about Catwoman. When they leave, they go to Patience’s home and make love. Lone then leaves later, after he finds one Catwoman’s fake claw nails.

Later, Laurel contacts Catwoman, and tricks her into entering a room with Patience’s brutally murdered boss lying on the floor. Laurel then calls the police after pushing a gun into Catwoman’s hand. As she flees the house, Catwoman realizes that Laurel was the one who insisted on the product’s release and murdered the scientist.

The prints on the gun were matched up with those of Patience, and she was taken into custody by Lone. That night she is able to escape from her jail cell, however, by squeezing through the bars like a cat.

Meanwhile, Lone goes to Laurel, while she holds a press conference for the beauty product and a tribute to George. They go to her office and talk, and during their conversation, Laurel lets slip that she was the murderer of the scientist and her husband. But, before Lone can arrest her, she pulls a gun and shoots him in the arm. Catwoman then arrives, and rescues Lone just as Laurel is about to finish him off. After taking out her henchmen, Catwoman confronts Laurel, and they fight, though Laurel’s face is now like “living marble” from using the product for so long. Catwoman slashes her face and causes it to rip. Laurel is horrified by her reflection in a mirror and falls out of a window to her death, although Catwoman attempts to rescue her.

At the end of the movie Patience sends a thank you note to the woman who gave her the cat mask, and a letter to Detective Lone, saying good bye and thank you and walks off into the night, happy with her new independence.

Spoilers end here.

Cast Actor Role Halle Berry Patience Phillips / Catwoman Benjamin Bratt Tom Lone Sharon Stone Laurel Hedare Lambert Wilson George Hedare Frances Conroy Ophelia Alex Borstein Sally Michael Massee Armando Byron Mann Wesley Kim Smith Drina Peter Wingfield Dr. Ivan Slavicky Berend McKenzie Lance

Response

The film was heavily criticized by fans of the Catwoman comic book character for departing from the basics of the character, with bad word of mouth starting to spread a full year before the film was released.[citation needed] A departure from the traditional interpretation, in the film she is a superhuman with feline aspects, whereas in most adaptations she is a human jewel thief fond of cat-themed theatrics.[1]

This debate subsided when it was learned that Berry would not be playing Selina Kyle, the “real” Catwoman, but a woman named Patience Phillips, who works at a cosmetics company in the beginning of the movie. However there was still apprehension in that the plot created for the movie closely resembled the premise of another comic book title, The Crow, which was also adapted into a film. (This included paraphrasing some of The Crow ‘s most famous dialogue in the theatrical trailer, about crows bringing souls back from the dead to put the wrong things right. “Crow” was changed to “Cat”.)

Catwoman was poorly received, both critically and at the box office. The film appeared on the list of Roger Ebert’s most hated films. He criticized the filmakers for giving little thought to providing Berry “with a strong character, story, supporting characters or action sequences.” But his primary criticism came from the failure of the film to give the audience a sense of what her character experienced as she was transformed into Catwoman.

This film received seven Golden Raspberry nominations in 2005. It “won” in the categories of Worst Picture, Worst Actress, Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay. Halle Berry accepted the award for Worst Actress personally, apologizing for the film, and speaking frankly in interviews about her views regarding problems with the film.

Aaron McGruder’s The Boondocks ran a series of comic strips in which Riley is punished by being forced to watch Catwoman. He subsequently campaigns to have being forced to watch Catwoman considered to be a form of child abuse.

MSN Movies ranks Catwoman as the third worst superhero movie to date, behind Batman & Robin and Daredevil.