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August 3, 2004 > Catwoman


by Susana Nuņez

Unlike its fellow comic book-based films, Catwoman is just as enjoyable for the girls as it is for the boys. Halle Berry plays lead in this new twist on the original Catwoman story, assuring that many will go just to check out Berry prancing around in her leather outfit. Don't let that distract you from the movie since it has, surprisingly, proved to be worthwhile. Keep in mind, however, that the film should not be viewed as a comparison to the original Catwoman story, but as another version.

Patience Phillips (Halle Berry) is a woman who lacks the confidence, allowing those around her to treat her poorly. Longing to express her artistic talent, Phillips squanders her skills in a thankless job as a graphic designer for the Hedare Beauty Company which promotes youth and beauty at all costs. Company owner, George Hedare (Lambert Wilson), and his supermodel wife Laurel (Sharon Stone) develop a new anti-aging product that is literally too good to be true. When Phillips overhears a conversation about the risks of the product, she is murdered to keep the secret from an eager public.

Phillips resurrects with the strength and incredible agility of a cat. Balancing the goodness inherent in her nature and new not-so-nice tendencies becomes vital, especially since Phillips' relationship with police detective Tom Lone (Benjamin Bratt) depends on her ability to balance both identities. Phillips', however, finds time to relish in her new persona by night, discovering a wild side in her that had been aching to get out.

Like typical action films, Berry had to learn fighting techniques for her role, but with the addition of physically demanding feline movements. Every move during a fight had to appear natural and sleek, so film choreographer, Anne Fletcher, turned to Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that combines traditional martial arts with dance and gymnastic movements. "It's one of the most difficult disciplines to learn, but [it's] one of the most beautiful holistic art forms in the world," says Fletcher. In addition, Berry had to learn how to use a bullwhip. "Of all my training, learning to crack the whip was the most fun," says Berry and adds, "The whip is probably the most elusive tool, but it's also the most sexy."

Many of the film's elements are feminine in nature. While audiences may expect explosions, bloody fights, and the havoc, they are in store for something quite different in Catwoman. Film-goers are advised to keep an open mind about the story and its characters before dismissing it as another "chick-flick."

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