I do a lot to keep this series going, namely sitting through unwatchable films long forgotten. Be it on purpose or simply not having the staying power to remain in our collective consciousness. Some have been easier to sit through than others. But some, like “Catwoman,” become unbearable at the mere thought of having sit through it more than once.
This actually marks the third time I’ve sat through this dumpster fire (which is one time too many), and it ages about as good as cheddar cheese left in a hot car in the middle of summer during a climate change driven heat wave in the Sahara Desert. We’ve come a very long way in the genre since “Catwoman,” but it remains a forever stain on not just the careers of everyone involved, but on the entire medium of cinema. It’s one of those movies that’s so bad it can’t even be saved by attempting to interpret it as being satire. While there are plenty of scenes and plot points that have that potential, the overall viewing experience is so unenjoyable you can’t even bring yourself to mock it with laughter. It is every bit as bad as you remember and every bit as terrible as anyone who has tried to forget they’ve seen it tells you it is.
Your first clue that 2004’s “Catwoman” would be an unmitigated disaster is knowing that it is directed by famed French visual effects supervisor Pitof. I’m not saying that visual effects makers can’t direct films, but you should ALWAYS be wary of directors with one name. You could make the argument that he was making his english directorial debut and that contributed to his misunderstanding of the material and language, but I’m inclined to place the blame on simply being the wrong director for what is now considered one of the worst films ever made. Also, for a guy touted as a visual effects master, this film sports some of the worst visuals on screen, and that’s accounting for the technology at the time.
Of course, the director can really only work with the script that was given, and while he has to accept some of the blame for this atrocity, much of it falls on writing duo John Brancato and Michael Ferris. Though they did write David Fincher’s breakout “The Game,” and a personal guilty pleasure of mine, “The Net.” They are also responsible for “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” and “Terminator Salvation,” two of the worst additions to the franchise. So no, they don’t get a pass here.
“Catwoman” has one of the worst scripts of of many of the films that make this 10% or less list, and I’ve personally watched movies with lower ratings with better base ideas and concepts than whatever the hell is happening here. The problems are endless, but one of the biggest is that “Catwoman” is more than a reimagining or reinterpretation of a beloved villain/anti hero, it goes out of its way to distance itself from anything and everything that could possibly tie it to the source material that it might as well not even be called “Catwoman” at all. I don’t know if this was the studio or these two assholes who thought, “We should make her like…play basketball and have the villain have something to do with bad beauty projects or some shit….ya…chicks love makeup!” Whoever is responsible for this sexist and downright stupid choices should be banned from Hollywood indefinitely.
The other problem with this mass exodus from the source material is that we already have strong cannonized version of this character both in film and television. Even in 2004, we were already given “Batman Returns,” and countless cartoon iterations including “Batman: The Animated Series,” easily of of the best cartoon adaptions of the Batman IP. I’m not saying you have to include these versions of Catwoman, but essentially wiping the slate clean and creating and entirely different origin, purpose, persona, story, and essentially creating and character that simply shares its name with the one we’re already familiar with is not only a risk, it’s simply poor planning and foresight. Also, if you’re going to do that, your new character better be amazing and worth the effort to complete transform them. Instead, we get whatever and whoever the hell Oscar winner Halle Berry is suppose to be in “Catwoman,” and it ends up being an insult to the character and the entire superhero genre overall. Yes, the film is THAT bad and has absolutely zero redeeming qualities.
With such a deep-seeded hatred for this film and everyone involved, one would think Berry’s performance would make the long list of things to hate about “Catwoman.” While her performance is appalling, I don’t necessarily hold her entirely responsible for it. Pitof and the screenwriters give her absolutely nothing to work with or do, choosing to focus on her appearance and oversexualization of her as the titular character rather than giving her any redeeming or purposeful qualities. She’s simply a moving poster of what a teenage boy thinks his Catwoman would do if she came to life off of his wall. That’s about all the depth that is given to our protagonist, and even an actor capable of strong performances like Berry would be and is incapable of breathing any kind of humanity of life into such a flatly written character.
I guess it goes without saying that this film more than deserves its 9% Rotten Tomatoes, and probably makes the case for being even lower if it were up to me. I know that our criteria is whether or not a film is fixable to bring it out of the deserve category, and while you probably could fix it there’s simply nothing in “Catwoman” worth fixing in the first place. You’re better off letting this blemish remain in the depth of forgotten blunders from whence it came, never to see the light of day if we can help it.
It is bad. Really, REALLY bad. So bad it has me rethinking this entire endeavor of watching bad films and has made me strongly consider giving up on the series entirely.
I won’t, but that’s the kind of crisis watching “Catwoman” does to someone. This is a “destroy all copies” kind of rating.
Burn them all.