Too much:

Can we please not put all this weight onto the performance of Catwoman?

The first African-American to win an Oscar for best actress — for the 2001 film “Monster’s Ball” — [Halle] Berry has now become the first African-American actress to headline an expensive, effects-laden production, this one about a meek graphic artist who turns into a vigilante with feline powers.

In the zero-sum calculations of the movie industry, Ms. Berry’s bankability as a star will be judged largely on whether she can “open” “Catwoman,” a Warner Brothers film — meaning whether she can make it a financial winner. If it succeeds, it will place her among a rarefied group of top-paid female stars, only a few of them established box office draws, and signify yet another achievement for African-American actors.

And so, if Catwoman flops, I guess that’ll mean that either Berry in particular or black women in general can’t be banked on to “open” a big-budget action movie, leading to both Hollywood decisions not to attempt such things and an indictment of the American moviegoing public.

But, of course, Catwoman might flop because it’s going to suck. I don’t know that for sure, of course; but it certainly looks unpromising. Cringe-inducing, actually. That has nothing to do with Berry’s acting ability (cf Monster’s Ball or Gothika) or her talent at action (cf Die Another Day). It has to do with the sort of dialogue that I’d hoped the Spider-Man and X-Men movies had cured superhero movies of. It has to do with the costume, and the impression that the movie’s only purpose is to pour her into it.

The apparently-aborted Bond spinoff movie might have been a much better test for the “Halle Berry, summer action hero” hypothesis. So might a Storm-focused X3. So might a Catwoman movie that didn’t have its natural base of supporters bracing themselves for a Dolph-Lundgren-as-the-Punisher level catastrophe. But this isn’t going to be any better a test of her ability to headline than LXG was a test of Sean Connery’s.

Update:

Roland Cooper e-mails a link to this review. I dunno how this reviewer got to see the movie early, but the review confirms all my prejudices about the movie.

Without pussyfooting around, I can state that Catwoman is a catastrophe. An amalgamation of bad clichés purr-loined from other, better superhero movies (not that there are many – if any – that can be considered worse), this motion picture is an embarrassment to all involved, from single-named director Pitof (whose moniker sounds like something often done to rice) to Halle Berry, who has by now thrown away all of the goodwill she gained from appearing in Monsters Ball. …The Academy Award-winning actress is so awful in this film that words fail me. It’s difficult to decide whether she’s channeling Eartha Kitt or Pulp Fiction’s The Gimp. And on those rare occasions when she attempts a one-liner, it is met with hoots of derision. (Part her delivery, and part the words she has to deliver.) Berry’s performance might have been campy enough to enjoy on its own had the tone of Pitof’s epic been less somber. The director seems to view himself as an auteur….As poorly written, ineptly directed, and hideously acted as Catwoman is, its biggest sin is that it’s boring. This movie does not offer a single worthwhile, interesting, or exciting scene. The action is dull, predictable, and repetitive. Ever thought a catfight between Sharon Stone and Halle Berry could rival a dose of valium as an effective sleep-inducer? I suppose Pitof deserves a measure of respect for being able to achieve something I would have argued was not possible. Catwoman treads close to the so-bad-it’s-enjoyable line, but, at least for me, it fails to cross over, despite a valiant attempt. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just plain bad. Nothing redeeming here.

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