Catwoman: Hunted is a largely harmless spotlight on Selina Kyle told through a wacky anime filter. Your enjoyment will largely depend on your appreciation of a more playful take on the cat burglar. It’s meant to be lighthearted and rarely taken seriously.
Selina (Elizabeth Gillies, Dynasty) is after a massive gem, currently in possession of gangster Black Mask (Jonathan Banks). The gem is Black Mask’s admission into Leviathan, a vast criminal empire led by Barbara Minerva aka Cheetah (Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Cruella).
While thinking she made good on the heist, Catwoman’s actions have only made her a target for Leviathan and Interpol, which wants to use her as a bait to bring Leviathan down.
Interpol isn’t just filled with a bunch of stuffy suits. They’ve partnered with vigilante Batwoman (Stephanie Beatriz, Encanto) on a mission led by Julia Pennyworth (Lauren Cohan, The Walking Dead) and King Faraday (Jonathan Frakes, Star Trek: The Next Generation).
Screenwriter Greg Weisman makes use of Catwoman’s in-comics continuity bisexuality to create some sexual tension with Batwoman. This comes at the cost of making Batwoman, one of the Bat Family members less prone to emotional distractions, acting awkwardly out of character as Selina flirts with her.
Gillies completely nails the flirty, carefree nature of the title character. There’s been little continuity with recent DC Animated projects, but Gillies makes a strong case to play Catwoman in future projects. Beatriz doesn’t sound like such an ideal fit for Batwoman mainly because she makes Kate Kane too devoid of personality as if playing Batman-lite.
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Minerva isn’t interested in letting Catwoman embarrass Leviathan and dispatches several upper tier villains to kill her. Among the heavy hitters are assassin Chesire (Kelly Hu reprising the role she’s played in Young Justice), Tobias Whale (Keith David) and even Solomon Grundy (Steve Blum).
Some of these villains are major players that only get defeated by top tier heroes like Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman.
There were better villain options more in Catwoman’s weight class like Lady Vic, King Snake and Talia al Ghul. They would have made for more appropriate adversaries. And it would have led to Weisman not having to basically make Catwoman a superhero in order to defeat these Rogues.
This is one of the bigger issues with the film. The villains have to act like morons for Catwoman to beat them and regardless if she’s fighting an unstoppable zombie or 52 ninjas, it rarely feels like it’s a struggle for her effectively killing off any suspense.
While largely implausible given Catwoman’s opposition, the action sequences are well executed. Director Shinsuke Terasawa really wanted to put Catwoman in the anime setting so she frequently trades out her whip for large swords. Terasawa conveys Selina’s bouncing, acrobatic fighting style well.
There’s some noticeable disconnect with the tone. The anime flavor naturally warrants a sillier, goofier tone than a classic Gotham City character vibe. The jazz pop score also seems like a deliberate homage to Cowboy Bebop to further sell the breezy feel.
Still, Terasawa works in some titillating scenes with Catwoman and some violent sequences that clash with the playful tone. Those are the moments that tilt the film from family-friendly to decidedly earning its PG-13 rating.
Catwoman: Hunted rarely rakes itself seriously so it’s hard to knock it for being too frivolous. Given the more serious slant of recent DC Animation projects, it might have been more interesting to make Selina work for her payoff.
Rating: 5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Animation
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