In a New York Times article about the recent spate of movies adapted from Marvel comics, Marvel executive Allen Lipson claimed that one key to the company's success is its policy of retaining approval of how its characters are used in film. Others might consider adopting that plan. Not that fanboy purism should always carry the day, but it would have prevented this scene from Catwoman: Sent to a watery grave, meek graphic designer Halle Berry washes up on an island covered in cats. One of them, of the breed commonly known as "CGI," climbs atop her chest and breathes into her mouth. Rather than getting a whiff of half-digested Cat Chow, Berry is filled with the spirit of the Egyptian cat goddess Bast. Able to leap around with feline grace, wear revealing leather outfits without shame, and improvise cat-themed puns, she is Catwoman, even though she bears little resemblance to the Catwoman from the Batman universe. It's like naming a movie Spider-Man because it's about a guy with eight legs who shoots silk out of his ass.
Of course, none of that would matter if the movie were any good, but it's not. Mononymical director Pitof cut his teeth on digital effects and music videos, and he directs Catwoman as though he was targeting the attention span of actual cats. He cuts rapidly, keeping the camera in constant motion lest viewers wander off in search of food or a quiet place to nap. It's the least exciting form of excitement imaginable, and the story doesn't prove much of a distraction. After her transformation, Berry sets out to stop her old employer (Sharon Stone) from releasing an addictive, destructive beauty cream called "Beau-line"surely the most unfortunate product name this side of Go-GURT Portable Yogurt. Meanwhile, when not prancing about, Berry romances sensitive cop Benjamin Bratt and trades quips with horny, hungry sidekick Alex Borstein. In or out of costume, Berry never creates a convincing character, but it's tough to saddle her with too much of the blame; Pitof, on the other hand, seems to draw his inspiration from the Joel Schumacher entries in the Batman franchise.
Relentlessly gaudy and in love with its PG-13 approximation of kink, Catwoman is essentially an excuse to pose Berry in ever-skimpier outfits. It's all too pre-fab to register as sexy, though, and even the fight scenes look like fashion shoots, complete with anonymous R&B bump 'n' grind musical accompaniment. The film could have turned out worse, but only via the addition of a Tom Green cameo, or an accident in which the actors caught on fire.