When I first learned of the movie Catwoman, I heard that the public reception towards the first trailers - where Halle Berry, who plays the main character, hisses at some barking dogs - were so bad that Warner studios had to release new trailers without this scene that made moviegoers laugh. Now I am not sure if everybody who saw those trailers did laugh, but I am certain that everyone knew that the movie would have a rough ride at its release. Especially when they had to reshoot a whole new ending for the pre-screening reactions were bad. However, the end result was that the public, the critics, and certain actors like Halle Berry herself, admitted the movie was awful.
At the time of the release many critics have been thrown at Pitof, the movie director, and have blamed him for the film's failure. However, I think that movie's main mistake was that it was caught in a Development Hell that went for twelve years, in which the project switched writers so many times that the original story, a sequel to Batman Returns ending that Daniel Waters wrote, became something else. And by that I mean a derivative story where an intimidated graphic designer working for two unpleasant Cosmetic company bosses, drown and become a woman-cat entity who takes the identity of Catwoman while wearing a costume that made her more ridiculous than dangerous.
About the actors, I can say that everyone in the cast gave their best with what they got, but I wonder if they all knew, and the director to an extent, that the movie would flop at its release. Especially with a script that has awful one-liners, funny scenes at moments when it shouldn't be so, and a more or less ridiculous villain in the form of a Cosmetic Company. As such, the movie follows some of the same origins that Michelle Pfeiffer had in Batman Returns, but does it in a more ridiculous way that one wonders what would have happened if the movie had been done with Daniel Waters' original script.
About the director, of which I saw his first feature Vidocq, it was evident that he is more at ease working through visual effects and camera shots since this is where he first started his movie career, such as some of Jean-Pierre Jeunet's works. There are some nice shots that I liked such as the accelerated day workday in the artists' office as we see Halle Berry coworkers leaving while she finishes her artwork late at night. But in general, it was too easy to see when the computerized version of Halle Berry did her stunts and when the real actress was on set. During this movie experience, I had the feeling that the production was rushed and it hurt the movie's effects. Not only that, Pitof has the annoying habit of switching angles every three seconds, and that becomes a headache to watch even on a small TV screen. So imagine the people that had to watch it in a movie theater's giant screen. Maybe that was one of the reasons why they had to cancel all the IMAX release they intended to do in 3D, apart from a probably rushed post-production schedule.
Of the soundtrack, I found it very irritating as it tried to make itself cool, but instead made me laugh for the wrong reasons, at scenes that could have been more dramatic such as Catwoman's rebirth, her final fight with her boss's wife, and her first costume dress-up as she puts herself some makeup and cuts her hair everywhere. And with the way she does it, it's a wonder she didn't cut her ears or gouged her eyes.
In the end, I think this movie experience hurt the character's chance of success in any movie done without Batman's presence, and the only way it could have been saved was if the artists involved had done their movie with a better script.