Or, How Catwoman Ruins Lives (well, mine).
As we lead in to Thanksgiving, I can think of nothing I am more thankful for this week than having seen Catwoman twice. (This could not be less true.) I hasten to add that both times were by chance, for free, but I still feel as though I have to talk about it, because YIKES.
No matter how bad you think Catwoman is, you probably have not seen it. “Man, that movie looks really awful,” you probably said when you saw the trailer. “I know better than to see that thing,” you probably said. “That is the worst movie of all time,” you might have said.
Instinct? GET IT?
The thing is, there are plenty of awful movies that are gleefully, delightfully awful. They are made for five dollars. They are full of cheesy dialogue that lends itself well to drinking games. They are, hypothetically, soap-opera adaptations of Catherine Cookson novels about headstrong ladies who take their siblings to live in caves (“A cave? Really?”) and eventually marry their rapists. These movies are all wonderful.
Then there are the movies that just smack of focus groups and self-sabotage and someone’s cousin owning this totally rad CGI company. Those movies are grindingly awful, mostly because they’re so empty. Legion was one of those: a plodding, pompous wad of cinema. I have actually recommended that people watch Jonah Hex, which was awful, but repeatedly cracked me up; I would never suggest that anyone watch Legion, for any reason. If you are on a desert island and Legion is the only movie available in the island-proof DVD player, use the reflective surface of the DVD to angle sunlight onto some dry grass and start a fire; do not use it for any other purpose. I am serious.*
Legion is still better than Catwoman. Here are ten reasons why Catwoman might possibly be the worst movie ever made.
1. In this movie, Catwoman gyrates in a tiny leather outfit (geeeentlemen!) as she faces off against an evil cosmetics company (laaaaadies!).
(You know who is actually going to see that movie? No one. Ever. Starfish can tell this movie’s not going to work.)
2. They decided that if the cosmetics angle didn’t work (laaaaaadies!), making it a half-baked story of female empowerment would really drag in the crowds. And there’s no better way to empower a lady than by having her suit up in a skimpy leather cat outfit (geeentlemen!) that her ‘”unattractive,” horny friend gave her. (P.S., she has an “unattractive,” horny friend. Additionally, said friend is sassy.)
3. Patience (her name is Patience now) is a graphic designer who gets killed after she gets lost and ends up in the Cosmetics DEFCON Computer Bank where Methos is talking about how their new skin crÃ¨me turns your skin into stone if you use it, and kills you if you stop using it (laaaaaadies!), and she knocks over a table of frying-pan lids with bells taped on them, runs loudly through the pressurized-tank storage room while men shoot at her, escapes into the enormous freestanding sewage pipe, and is flushed over a cliff into a lake, where she floats dead onto the shore. (Richard Kimble: “Amateur.”)
4. Then a CGI cat blows a green CGI soul-smoke into her and she wakes up. As happens.
(If you ever want a crash course on how suspension of disbelief relies almost entirely on execution of the material, watch this scene, and then watch the scene in Batman Returns where the recently-defenestrated Selina Kyle is swarmed with gnawing cats until her eyes suddenly snap open. Then just watch the rest of Batman Returns, since there’s no way you’re coming back to this movie after that.)
Recreation of CDCB. (Actual Cosmetics DEFCON Computer Bank not pictured, because even Peter Wingfield has a scrap of dignity)
5. This scene, in which Patience and her love interest Tom Lone (you know, that cop who doesn’t work with a partner) play basketball because some fourth-graders goad them into it.
6. A scene I couldn’t find on YouTube, where Patience (who is Catwomaning all over the place by now doing things like making people turn down the volume on their house-party stereos) and Tom Lone (HE HAS NO PARTNER) go to a county fair (sure) and get stuck on the Ferris Wheel, and the operator rips the whole handle off (yup), and the only thing affected is the safety bar on the bench carrying a lone seven-year-old boy (ALSO NO PARTNER), and he falls out of the very deep and stable-looking Ferris Wheel bench, and Patience jumps out of her seat and catches him with one arm, and Tom Lone is like, “Wow, good reflexes,” and she’s like, “Oh, thanks!”
This scene is not the moment where he begins to suspect her, nor is it a scene in which she realizes she has to stop seeing him, nor is it a scene that is ever referenced again. “County Fair” was on the focus-group checklist for Things Movies Have in Them, so by God, they checked it off.
7. The plotting. This is the kind of movie where the plot is so nonsense that at one point she wishes for a key to get out of the prison cell she’s in, and then she figures out she can squeeze through the bars (sure), and you half-expect her to come back with the key and open the door that way, because this movie just does not know any better.
7a. Our exposition guide is a middle-aged cat lady named Ophelia, and she has a house full of cats, and she gives sage advice about accepting all parts of you. Also, to prove Patience is a Catwoman, she shoves her off her house’s second-floor library balcony that had a working gate in it, because if you’re going to put in a library, you might as well put in a working gate. (Check off “library” AND “gate” from that list of Things Movies Have in Them, while you’re at it!)
8. The dialogue. I just can’t.
Closing voiceover: “The day I died was the day I started to live. In my old life, I longed for someone to see what was special in me. You did, and for that, you’ll always be in my heart. But what I really needed was for me to see it. And now I do. You’re a good man, Tom. But you live in a world that has no place for someone like me. You see, sometimes I’m good. Oh, I’m very good. But sometimes I’m bad. But only as bad as I wanna be. Freedom is power. To live a life untamed and unafraid is the gift that I’ve been given, and so my journey begins.”
I feel you, inexplicable villain Sharon Stone.
9. You know what that voiceover is doing? It’s opening the door to a sequel, that is what it is doing. Just…think about that for a second.
10. The thing is, this movie completely blows. But the actual worst thing about Catwoman is that, despite this list of things existing pretty early in the pre-production process, everyone went ahead with it anyway, creating a movie that was obviously sub-par, and that nearly single-handedly brought down the idea of viable superheroine movies. (For the other half of that pair of concrete galoshes, watch Elektra.)
It’s become the scapegoat that people point to as the reason not to make female-centered comic book action flicks, which seems spectacularly disingenuous in a world where you get to reboot Hulk two years after the first iteration tanked and nobody even points a finger. (…geeeentlemen!) For the other half of that pair of helium floaties, watch the upcoming Spiderman re-reboot.
Fun fact: this is the first trailer; apparently a subsequent trailer was released with all the dialogue removed in an attempt to trick people into going. (Dozens of people lost two hours of their lives watching this!)
* I know you are a Paul Bettany fan. We all are. I am still serious.