The pitch for Catwoman: Hunted is that it’s anime-influenced, which apparently means a very adult body styled with an 8-year-old face, and minimal plot. There are four lengthy action sequences plus a seduction scene with implied nudity. That qualifies for a PG-13 rating for “violence, bloody images, and suggestive material.” (The studio sent me a review copy.)
I was bored, as there is nothing original or interesting about this, and I found it a chore to sit though. Catwoman is taken by Black Mask to a costume party, where she stages a heist. That and the resulting getaway chase take the first third of the movie. She then gets picked up by a secret organization that sends her on another heist, all of which are excuses for action sequences.
Catwoman is voiced by Elizabeth Gillies (Dynasty), with Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn 9-9) as Batwoman. (I didn’t care for that casting, as she’s much too recognizable and kept distracting me from the character role.) Johnathan Banks (Breaking Bad) plays Black Mask; Keith David (many many things) is Tobias Whale; and Kirby Howell-Baptiste (The Good Place) is Barbara Minerva, Whale’s boss as the head of Leviathan. I found this an odd collection of characters that never really felt like they belonged in the same film.
As written by Greg Weisman (Gargoyles, Young Justice) and directed by Shinsuke Terasawa, Catwoman flirts with everyone, including hitting on Batwoman hard. I know people like that about the character, but it’s heavily overdone here. The dialogue is cliched, as though written by a teenager. The bad guy shows he’s bad by a random killing of a henchman, which makes me wonder why the rest don’t bail immediately. Eventually, demons show up for more different things to fight.
The animation is stiff and blocky. There are lots of static backgrounds. During the action sequences, the movement is cheated so that it’s hard to tell what exactly is happening. I couldn’t follow the staging to know where characters were supposed to be. Also, the car chase has no sense of speed. The music use is heavy, with sound effects that don’t seem to match the visuals. It’s audio for its own sake, which makes it distracting.
Perhaps the PG-13 rating really means that you need to be a 13-year-old to enjoy this. The best part about the DVD were the two special features.
“When the Hunter Becomes the Hunted” (19 minutes) is specifically about this production. It gets to that length by having the contributors explain the movie to us. Among those talking about how Catwoman is known as a thief, a villain, and a femme fatale are writer Weisman, executive producer Michael Uslan, producer Ethan Spaulding, casting/voice director Jamie Thomason, and comic creators Jeph Loeb, James Tynion IV, and Joelle Jones.
It would have been nice if the various comic book panels had been identified as to source and artist. The phrase “strong, independent woman” is used, and they congratulate themselves on starring female characters and giving them action sequences.
Weisman describes this as a “Bondian adventure story”. He also says 50-some years of reading comics gave him the ability to get to the essentials of the character. That explains why so much of this feels overly familiar. He’s regurgitating things we have all already seen.
“Catwoman: The Feline Femme Fatale” (40 minutes) is an overview of the character as seen in previous media appearances. It’s narrated by Tara Strong and was originally released online in May 2021. There’s archive footage of Bob Kane, Frank Miller, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eartha Kitt, Adam West, Julie Newmar, and Alex Ross. I think it was to promote the Zoe Kravitz Catwoman from the upcoming The Batman movie.