[UPDATED WITH NEW PHOTOS]
So, along with Batman: Year One on DVD and Blu-Ray, the new DC Showcase piece is Catwoman, starring Eliza Dushku. Since reviews for B:YO are going to focus on the feature, I figure I’d do a quick bit about the short film that comes along with it.
First, Eliza Dushku does a fairly credible job as Selina Kyle, and the usual suspects are on board for this on: Lauren Montgomery directs from a script by Paul Dini. And the Warner Bros. Animation team delivers their usual well-rendered efforts.
SPOILERS FROM HERE
OK, I’m not going to issue a fanboy squee every time a new animated feature comes out. High expectations abound when we’re talking about Batman: Year One, and I’ll have something to say about that adaptation in another post. This DC Showcase piece, though… I wasn’t sure what to expect. Given that there’s been such a nasty blowback about Catwoman #1 in the “New 52”, I was half expecting this iteration of Catwoman to prance around half-naked for the duration of the short.
And I was half-right.
The setup is pretty simple. Thugs are shooting at a cat with a fancy jeweled collar. Cat gets away. Thugs think it’s dead, report back to their boss Rough Cut (the ever present John DiMaggio), and they all go their merry way. Meanwhile, Selina’s found the cat, spotted the trinket, and is now on the case. Of course, it’s not clear why this particular trinket means anything.
Sure, the animation is great. Heavy anime influence, and they’ve made the most out of re-using pieces of background environments from Batman: Year One (since Dushku plays Selina there as well). But here’s where the short goes off the rails a bit for me.
The next scene is in a strip club. Rough Cut and his posse go in, rough up a customer to take his table near the stage, and then we’re treated to a long drawn-out stripper-on-a-pole sequence that does absolutely nothing to move the story forward. Absolutely nothing. It’s gratuitous, and it’s at this point that I start to wonder if some of the “New 52” thinking is starting to creep into the animated work.
The dancer is there strictly for eye candy. Rough Cut ogles her, gives her a diamond as her tip. But really? Do we have to see her take off the bra? Do we have to see her spinning around the pole more than a few times? We get it. Rough Cut is a pig. You can establish that in all of twenty seconds as soon as he sits down in the club. Instead, we get a sequence that feels like it’s there simply to provide fodder for fanboys to get their cheap thirteen-year-old fantasy thrills.
And then… Catwoman does the same thing! She spins on the pole, cavorts around on the stage, unzips the top and leaves nothing to the imagination for anyone. And then she whips out the whip – from inside the skin-tight bodysuit!
Really? Where did she stash it?
I expect better from Dini and Montgomery. Really.
Now, besides not moving the plot forward, the whole strip club scene was too long, dragging down the whole story. Well, you could argue that the story moves forward after Selina does her bit and starts asking questions, which sets up the action sequence. But the bits leading up to it are just there for titillation.
Having said that, the action sets that follow – nicely done. With a willing suspension of disbelief for some of Selina’s aerial acrobatics, I enjoyed the car chase. I enjoyed the action set at the docks. Even the giant loader truck flipping over itself was executed well (I’m going to ignore the callback to Terminator 2). I’m going to ignore the whole “steel cable cuts the cargo ship in half” bit… I am. Because if I pay attention to it, I’ll start laughing at the absurdity of it.
The reveal at the end – who the collar really belongs to and what Rough Cut is really up to – was handled fairly well. I’m allowing a bit of slack there because it really wasn’t the point of the story, and it’s a short with a limited time frame. This really was about showing off Catwoman in the hip-hugging bodysuit as it gets ripped to shreds and shows off her skin while she dances around bad guys and kicks them around the block a few times. In that, it succeeded.
But I can’t watch it with my kid. And that stinks.