No Selina Kyle, the Patience Phillips production can be classified as an "Elsewhere" movie, an alternate take on a beloved character. It could have been a lot worse.
By Timothy J. Forbes
1 September 2004
I finally managed to watch the Catwoman movie on Sunday, 29 August 2004, at the Cinema Saver theatre in Endicott, New York. Like the Webmaster of the Catwoman Home Page site, I was prepared to dislike the film directed by Pitof and starring Halle Berry.
The bad news is that Selina Kyle's rich history was not used in the film. While the film credits state that the characters were based on characters created by Bob Kane, this is a Catwoman in name only. This alone has alienated many fans, and already generated negative publicity. The plot itself had some flaws, in that Patience Phillips dies in the film, and is reincarnated as Catwoman. The movie also sags when Patience is arrested and thrown in jail; her crying scenes seem a little out of character by the latter part of the film.
The good news? Halle Berry as Catwoman. Never mind the skimpy outfit. As the Catwoman, she is one freocious feline. She manages to capture many of the characteristics that one would expect of the Feline Fatale: The dominatrix personality, the cat moves and the whip use show she has the basic cat moves! Her chemisatry with Benjamin Bratt (Law & Order) seems a little forced, though.
Though the plot itself was flawed, the mention of corrupt corporations, concerns over aging and pollution makes this a film that is as potentially subversive as Fahrenheit 9/11 . It may also be that a strong female lead may make some people uncomfortable, too. The overall impression I had was that this seemed to be as much an alternate, European version of Catwoman, and it is a different animal.
Still, I observed many similarities between the movie's scenes, and those from various sources:
- Patience Phillips' death echoes that of Selina Kyle in 1992's Batman Returns. Come to think of it, much of the plot line does, too.
- Patience Phillips' haircut echoes that of Selina Kyle during the transition from the second Catwoman comic series to the third (and present) series.
- Halle Berry, as Catwoman, hissed a la Eartha Kitt (in Batman , 1967-68).
- Benjamin Bratt's character, Tom Lone, parallels the character of Slam Bradley in the current Catwoman comic.
- Sharon Stone's death, and Catwoman's futile attempt to save her, is similar to the death of Molly (Jill St. John) in the first Batman (1966) episode.
My verdict? It rates an N/A, for Not Applicable. This is an interesting production, flawed, but not the end of the world. I found it engrossing. This movie represents a different perspective on the Feline Fatale. I do think the viewer has to understand that Catwoman as a character is not one who has to depend on Batman. The character, like the cat, is an independent entity. The movie tried to show that, though in a manner that ignored Selina Kyle's rich history.
If there is one movie I am reminded of, it is the Wonder Woman movie of 1974, starring Cathy Lee Crosby. The movie featured a Wonder Woman far removed from the comic, so another movie was produced the following year, starring Lynda Carter. You know the rest of the story on that one!