Completely stripping Catwoman of her "Batman" connections the geniuses behind this comic-book movie--at least as bad as Spider-Man 2 is good--also stripped it of any pleasure. Neither campy a la Julie Newmar and Eartha Kitt of the old TV series nor sexy vamp like Michelle Pfeiffer of Batman Returns Halle Berry's Catwoman is well one lost little kitty in the big city. Actually she's Patience Philips--an annoyingly mousy graphics designer for a top cosmetics firm who despite her job has no fashion sensibility no self-confidence and no boyfriend. (Yeah riiiight!) She is befriended by a mystical Egyptian Mau cat which--courtesy of lousy digital effects--often looks disturbingly like Toonces and sounds like Linda Blair in The Exorcist when it meows; moreover its way of befriending Patience is to lure her into a suicide attempt--one of many plot points lacking a rationale. When Patience discovers that the cosmetics firm's villainous owner (Lambert Wilson) and aging supermodel wife (Sharon Stone) are marketing a toxic disfiguring facial cream she is killed--flushed through a drainage system into the ocean. But here comes that darn cat again to revive her as she's lying in sludge and mud. Next thing she knows she's sleeping on her apartment's bookshelf eating tuna by the caseload looking longingly at Jaguar hood ornaments as if they're long-lost relatives and jumping about walls basketball courts and whatnot faster than a speeding bullet. She also takes to wearing a pointy-eared black-leather dominatrix outfit along with too much makeup but at least no whiskers. She also starts sniffing around that foul cosmetics firm which leads to a martial-arts showdown with Stone. What the Oscar-winning Berry doesn't do regrettably is get a CAT scan to see what kind of ailment convinced her to make this lamebrain movie.
I've seen better acting on 7-Eleven surveillance videos than in Catwoman. Berry is cloying in the film's early stages when she's playing insecure lonely Patience and she's more pathetically childlike than anything else. Once she's Catwoman though she's really terrible tilting her head for endless close-ups and giving lots of wide-eyed stares meant to conjure feline curiosity but that more recall George W. Bush's "deer-in-the-headlights" gaze. The screenplay makes a few lame attempts to observe the duality of women in the way Patience changes to Catwoman but it's not there in the performance. Yet Berry's turn is a career-peak gem compared to Stone who can't decide whether to play the power-mad Laurel Hedare as a broad cartoonish send-up or as someone connected to reality. Looking like a vampiric Susan Powter and barking sarcastic lines without a hint of emotional connection to her character Stone is just awful. On the plot's fringes Benjamin Bratt does his best as a police officer (gee what else) who is both infatuated with Berry and suspects her of murder.
The one-named French director Pitof (short for "pitoful"?) supposedly is a digital-imaging expert who has worked with City of Lost Children's Jean-Pierre Jeunet but you'd never know it here. Either he doesn't know much about directing actors or maybe he only gives directions in French. The effects--especially action scenes involving a digitalized version of Berry--move at such a chaotic breakneck pace that she looks completely phony. Plus there's absolutely no sequential logic whatsoever to where Catwoman moves and when--apparently invisibility is one of her superpowers. These awkward clumsy scenes are usually accompanied by distractingly loud music. Pitof's only other directing credit is some obscure French flick starring Gerard Depardieu…one hopes Catwoman will be his last.
When retired U.S. Special Forces Soldier Chris Vaughn (Johnson) returns to Kipsat County Wash. it's only to find his hometown overrun with crime drugs and violence. The old mill where Chris's father (John Beasley) worked for most of his life is closed and the town's only thriving industry is the Wild Cherry casino. Even Chris' high school sweetie Deni (Ashley Scott) couldn't resist the Wild Cherry's lure; she's become a peepshow dancer to "pay the bills." But Chris really loses it when he discovers the casino's dealers are using loaded dice--and he starts a brawl that ends with the security team carving up his chest and abdomen with a rusty Exacto knife. Chris also learns that that his old high school rival the casino's owner Jay Hamilton (Neal McDonough) has transformed the mill into a crystal meth lab and is using the casino's menacing security staff to sell the drugs to innocent kids. Chris strikes back by running for sheriff firing the entire police department on his first day and with the help of a cedar two-by-four and his deputy and buddy Ray Templeton (Johnny Knoxville) restores peace to the Pacific Northwest.
Johnson looking buffer than ever is well cast in the role of Chris: He's a fearless and determined soldier with beyond-human fighting skills. But while the film takes advantage of Johnson's brawn it fails to take advantage of his brain. In last year's comedy The Rundown Johnson proved he was more than a muscle-bound action star; he oozed charm and was surprisingly witty. With Walking Tall he never gets a chance to flex his acting muscles; if anything they atrophy. The only skills Johnson gets to show off are his ability to swing a plank at someone's shins and his unique way of bashing skulls against slot machines. Johnson's sidekick Ray played by Knoxville of MTV's Jackass fame is an ex-junkie who after spending a couple of years in the slammer is content with living in a camper and doing odd jobs around town. With his scraggly appearance and klutzy demeanor Knoxville supplies the film with brief interludes of humor amid the slam fest including a scene in which he stabs a bad guy with a potato peeler. Johnson and Knoxville would have made a first-rate action team had they had more screen time together.
A WWE production with Vince McMahon serving as executive producer Walking Tall has none of the subtlety of director Kevin Bray's last film All About the Benjamins and all the elements of a wrestling match. As with wrestling the film begins by melodramatically establishing the story (Chris and his family's lives are devastated by the mill's closure) and just like rival pugilists who publicly taunt the favored wrestler Chris challenges Jay--not for the world title but at least for control of Kipsat County--in a never-ending battle between good and evil that mimics wrestling to a T. But what's entertaining in the ring doesn't translate to film especially when the good guy running the town is a maniacal meathead. Chris is supposed to be the protagonist who single-handedly saves the town but who's responding to the citizens' domestic violence calls for example when the sheriff fires the entire precinct and spends 24 hours a day casing the casino? Never mind the fact that he has sex with his girlfriend in his office while he's on the clock.
Supermodel Claudia Schiffer wore a Valentino wedding dress Saturday to her own wedding, but no one really got to see it. One of the world's most photographed women wore a blanket to cover up her gown, Reuters reports. Schiffer, who tied the knot with British film producer Matthew Vaughn in a 14th-century church in Shimpling, England, disappointed onlookers who wanted to wish her well. Presumably, anyone on the guest list, which included the likes of Madonna, Guy Ritchie and Trudie Styler, caught a glimpse.
"It's just a sex thing," quipped Hugh Grant of his Two Weeks Notice co-star, Sandra Bullock. The two were at the Cannes Film Festival Saturday telling reporters all sorts of steamy stories, according to Reuters. Although no one is really sure if their comments were for real or just a joke, Bullock has only admitted to kissing and holding hands with Grant 'cause she's "just not ready to have sex yet."
James Caviezel will morph from actor to racer today when he gets behind the wheel of the Chevrolet Corvette pace car to lead 33 drivers down two parade laps and the pace lap of the Indianapolis 500. Caviezel follows other famous celebrity drivers from past Indie 500 races, including Jay Leno and Anthony Edwards.
The former head of Paramount Pictures, Robert Evans, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Thursday. Evans was instrumental in approving such film classics as The Godfather, The Godfather: Part II and Love Story, which helped turn the struggling studio around.
Attention all Matrix fans! The next two sequels are a bigger and better work in progress, according to producer Joel Silver. "We have done visual effects for the movies that, because of the time that we took to make them and the cost, will never be seen again," Silver told Sci Fi Wire on Friday in Sydney, Australia--where the films are currently in production. Look for The Matrix Reloaded to hit the big screen in May 2003. You can watch the teaser trailer for both films here on Hollywood.com.
In the Biz
Meg Ryan's not throwing any punches in her next role, although she will be managing a few boxers. The Associated Press reports Ryan will play female boxing manager Jackie Kallen in Against the Ropes, a big screen drama co-starring Omar Epps and directed by Charles Dutton. No word on when production will begin.
First, she made Pepsi the choice of the belly button ring generation. Now, popster Britney Spears' will have them geared up with Samsung cell phones. A new deal unites the singer and the phone company during Spears' Dream Within a Dream 2002 concert tour that kicks off Friday in Las Vegas, Launch Music reports.
Rock band Hole has announced their official breakup, Launch Music reports. Hole released three albums, including Pretty on the Inside, Live Through This and Celebrity Skin.
B.B. King was crowned entertainer of the year for the fourth year in a row at the 23rd annual W.C. Handy Blues Awards Thursday in Memphis, Tenn., AP reports.
If you like the tunes of the late Perry Como, now you can enjoy his clothing, too. AP reports Dawson's Auctioneers and Appraisers will be offering over 1,500 lots from the singer's former Florida home Thursday through June 2, including monogrammed cardigans, golf shoes and candid photos of Como with other celebrities.
February 13, 2002 12:07pm EST
Despite his recent Oscar nomination for Best Actor, Russell Crowe (A Beautiful Mind) told reporters at the Berlinale film festival Tuesday that he is "still unsatisfied to a large degree" about his work as an actor, Reuters reports. Crowe, who has three Oscar nominations on his resume, went on to say, however, he "think[s] that's a healthy thing to be as an actor."
There's a new documentary coming out about George W. Bush called Journeys With George, the Los Angeles Times reports. The 75-minute film shot by Alexandra Pelosi, daughter of the new House Democratic whip Nancy Pelosi, chronicles Bush's 2000 campaign. It includes a scene where the not-yet-President drinks non-alcoholic beer, something other photographers weren't permitted to shoot.
Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins will make a film about a British security officer who died in New York's Twin Towers while saving thousands of civilians, the BBC reports. Rick Rescorla, who moved to the U.S. at the age of 23, became a U.S. Army Vietnam veteran whose battlefield story is being told in the upcoming Mel Gibson film We Were Soldiers.
Matthew Perry is going slumming, leaving the comfy confines of Nielsen leaders NBC for upstart Fox--but only for a short visit. According to People magazine, in addition to his recent Friends renewal, Perry will guest star as a brash, cocky lawyer on two upcoming episodes of Fox's Ally McBeal.
Cary Grant will soon be the face of a first-class U.S. postage stamp, People reports. Expect the late, handsome actor to appear on perforated paper at a local post office near you in late summer or early fall.
George Harrison's final resting place was revealed Tuesday. Reuters reports the former Beatle died in a Hollywood Hills mansion that was once owned by Courtney Love and had been leased by Harrison's security guard while Love owned it. The current owner is listed as Mike Walley, who has owned the property just less than a year.
Rapper, producer, fashion designer and now actor Sean "Puffy" Combs "fit right in" with the cast of Monster's Ball, says no less an expert than co-star Halle Berry, The Associated Press reports. Combs plays Berry's husband who is ultimately executed during the film.
Puffy isn't the only one to match music and fashion: 'N Sync's Chris Kirkpatrick debuted his new clothing line FuMan Skeeto Monday night, as part of New York Fashion Week, the AP reports. The line specializes in women's vintage-chic style clothing, including novelty T-shirts and chenille patch jeans.
Musicians Sting, Michael Jackson, Randy Newman, Barry Manilow and Ashford & Simpson were announced Tuesday to be among those inducted into the National Academy of Popular Music/Songwriters Hall of Fame, the AP reports. The inductees will officially be honored at the 33rd annual induction and awards dinner, which takes place in New York on June 13.