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  Catwoman: Hunted More Than Nine Lives
Year: 2022
Director: Shinsuke Terasawa
Stars: Elizabeth Gillies, Stephanie Beatriz, Jonathan Banks, Lauren Cohan, Kelly Hu, Keith David, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Jonathan Frakes, Jacqueline Obradors, Steve Blum, Ron Yuan, Zehra Fazal, Andrew Kishino, Eric Lopez
Genre: Action, Animated, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: There is a masked ball being held at this mansion, making it the perfect setting for mask-obsessed gangster Black Mask (voiced by Jonathan Banks) to mingle, and he has brought someone else who likes to wear a disguise, one Selina Kyle (Elizabeth Gillies). She has dressed as Catwoman, that famed cat burglar and villainess of ambiguous loyalties, and there is a good reason for that: she IS Catwoman, and once she has discarded her outfit and changed into her catsuit, complete with whip, she is ready to liberate the priceless emerald of her hostess, the enigmatic Barbara Minerva (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), who had plans of her own...

Catwoman is the greatest villainess in comics, and next to Lois Lane probably the most famous female character in the medium, certainly among DC's roster of characters, so it is little wonder the big and small screen adaptations of the Batman world return to her so often. Aside from a stretch when the Comics Code Authority of the nineteen-fifties and early sixties deemed her too sexy to appear in a publication aimed at children, she has been one of the most consistent of Batman’s celebrated Rogue's Gallery, especially considering her personality can be so mercurial. So here she was in her own anime, produced with a Japanese director.

If you follow Catwoman at all, you will likely have your own favourite incarnation, and it would seem if you didn't like whatever version was current, stick around because another one would be along in a minute. Julie Newmar originated the role on television, and actresses as diverse as Eartha Kitt, Michelle Pfeiffer, Anne Hathaway and Zoe Kravitz have followed, not to mention those who have provided her voice in cartoons, but here, bearing in mind the Japanese connection, Catwoman was indebted to a popular anime antihero, Arsene Lupin, as a master thief ingenious enough to escape any scrape she should become embroiled with.

Hunted was one of DC's animated line, a series of features that had gone down very well with fans, and this was no exception. Fair enough, the plot was not exactly intricate, taking the format of getting its protagonist into lengthy fights over and over again and never breaking a sweat, indeed she always has time for a quip. She wasn’t the wittiest she had ever been either, but this was a light excursion for the character, nothing too heavy and she was confident enough to play with Batwoman's attraction to her that the heroine was not going to readily admit to, Catwoman being an enemy she has semi-reluctantly teamed up with to foil Minerva and Black Mask’s new syndicate. A nice touch has Selina doing what she asked because Batwoman (Stephanie Beatriz) had her cat (!).

But really, for all the playfulness Hunted was largely about action, and director Shinsuke Terasawa proved skilled at keeping that coming with some flair, maybe nothing revolutionary in the field, but employing the right moves and designs to sustain interest. In fact, for some parts it looked as if DC had requested him to cram in as many of their characters as possible, to keep them in the public consciousness, or the fans' consciousness anyway. Minerva was of course Cheetah, a Wonder Woman adversary, here repositioned as closer to a werecat than anything you might have seen in Wonder Woman 1984, and also showing up were obscure villainesses like Nosferata, as well as the one note but always useful Solomon Grundy. Actually, it was clear they were roping in many bad guys and girls from other heroes' lines, if Catwoman could be truly be described as heroic. With a nice retro caper quality, this might not linger long in the memory, but it was very neatly assembled. Music by Yutaka Yamada.

[AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY, DVD AND BLU-RAY STEELBOOK ON 7th FEBRUARY 2022 AND DIGITAL DOWNLOAD ON 8TH FEBRUARY 2022.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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