CATWOMAN (PG-13, 104 minutes)
Halle Berry has a good old time playing the anything-but-kittenish superheroine in "Catwoman." And Sharon Stone takes an enjoyably nasty turn as an evil cosmetics mogul. Yet, despite them and their requisite body-slamming fight scene, this summer flick never gets the popcorn a-crunching. Berry's Catwoman is jazzy and fun -- part comic book, part ancient myth, part all-American girl -- but the crime story around her is dreary. And the computer-enhanced action sequences look cartoonish compared with the eyepoppers in "Spider-Man 2" (PG-13).
Yet "Catwoman" may divert teenage audiences, if not thrill them, with its star power, music-video-style camerawork and story of female empowerment. The film doesn't push the PG-13 boundaries, for once, but with its strong undercurrent of sexuality, "Catwoman" still isn't for preteens. Berry's dominatrix-style Catwoman get-up sends girls a mixed message of what empowerment means, there's an implied overnight tryst with a handsome cop (Benjamin Bratt) and the violence includes loud gunplay and fights. A child is shown in danger on a Ferris wheel.
Berry plays Patience Philips, a timid graphic artist at a cosmetics company. After she overhears scientists at the plant say their latest age-defying cream is poison, they drown her in an industrial sewer. Her body washes up in a landfill, where a mysterious Egyptian cat, which Patience earlier nearly died trying to rescue, breathes life into her. She awakes with the ability to scamper up and down walls, shameless sexuality and a craving for canned tuna. As she sets about getting her revenge on the scientists, the cop, who met and liked the old Patience, may get wise to her new guise.
THE BOURNE SUPREMACY (PG-13, 110 minutes)
With its skittish camerawork reflecting the protagonist's desperate point of view and its gradual, onion-peeling method of revealing plot, "The Bourne Supremacy" will appeal to a more sophisticated teenage audience than "Catwoman." A bit too long but highly rewarding in dramatic tension, acting, brains and atmosphere, this sequel to "The Bourne Identity" (PG-13, 2002) assumes a little audience familiarity with espionage thrillers and world events, such as the breakup of the Soviet Union. This isn't to say that fans of Matt Damon -- who as former CIA assassin and partial amnesiac on the run Jason Bourne achieves a fine balance of innocence and experience -- won't show up just to see his cute self.
The movie has a gritty, naturalistic quality, and the violence, including considerable lethal gunplay, makes it unsuitable for preteens. An assassination and a suicide shown in nongraphic, stylized ways are still intense moments. There are harrowing chases on foot and by car and fights with fists, knives, strangulation and snapped necks. The script contains rare instances of profanity, and one character drinks.
Adapted from a Robert Ludlum novel, "The Bourne Supremacy" finds Jason Bourne in India with Marie (Franka Potente), whom he met in the first film. Except for violent dreams and memory shards, he has some peace until a nameless assassin (Karl Urban) murders a CIA operative and comes looking for Bourne. He's framed to look guilty in the eyes of rival CIA higher-ups (Brian Cox, back from the first film, and Joan Allen). Though Bourne isn't sure who he is or what he did, he remembers enough tradecraft to lead them all on a chase through the atmospheric back streets of Goa, Berlin, Naples and Moscow.