Superhero origin stories are a dime a dozen nowadays, with every couple of years, the classic tale is recreated, sometimes slight details are altered to keep up with the times, but audiences, generally know the beats before going into the theatres. You must reinvent the wheel constantly. If that is the case, you might as well go a little wild and liberated with its telling. In 2004, With the era of superhero domination about to heat up, one origin story played the game a little differently. In the origins of Catwoman.
Shy and introverted artist Patience Phillips has an unfulfilling job, noisy neighbours, and relationship troubles, when tasked to finish a midnight assignment gets her lumbered, over-her-head with a secret involving her company’s ageing cream, said secret may have cost Patience her life. Fortunately for her, a nearby cat brings her back to life, from a near-impossible brush with death. From her recovery, she starts to experience a new lease on life, with confidence, superhuman agility, and a penchant for leather. Using these talents, Patience goes on a quest to track down her killers, while juggling her new boyfriend policeman, Tom Lone, and not without pocketing a few precious gems first.
With the rejection of Selena Kyle, Catwoman forges its path in creating its story, Hallie Berry leaps into the origin story, masterful in the way plays shy and introverted Patience and confident Catwoman at a drop of a hat (or a crack of a whip). Catwoman’s heavy reliance on new characters and situations to tell its own story is admirable, with Sharron Stone’s Hedare being a notably interesting adversary with the mixture of corporate and criminal antics being Hedare’s repertoire. The origins of Catwoman’s (for lack of a better term) revitalised essence are explained with Ophelia Powers, who offers a mythic underlying to the origins of the cat, equal so with her portrayal by Frances Conroy and Alex Borstein is on fire as the comic relief Sally, and Benjamin Bratt as an attractive police detective, Tom Lone, does complicate a lot in Patience’s life.
The city, unnamed, is a dramatic change from the brooding Gotham that Batman calls his home, this metropolis feels a lot more modern and contemporary, although detached from that charming timeless quality that Gotham has. It’s made up of chromatic art structures, and the ever-present matrix-esque green tint that the film has makes it abundantly clear we’re in the dawn of the new millennium. With R&B making a resurgence around the time, Catwoman’s soundtrack also embraces tracks from Mis-Teeq to help populate the world. For the roof running, choreographed action scenes, to basketball matchup in the park.
While many of the comic book films that I have covered have tried to evoke the comic book origins of their stories. Catwoman manages to tell its tale, with a new cast, and new characters. Colourful with the then in vogue Matrix-green tint and chromatic metal, complimenting the urban playground of the unnamed city, Catwoman calls on the hallmarks of the new century. A fun and feisty feline of a film, full of the potential of future instalments yet entertaining enough as a standalone caper. If any franchise was worthy of nine lives, Catwoman certainly is amongst them.
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