Studio: Warner Bros. Animation
Runtime: 79 minutes
Release Date: 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. Blu-ray, Digital – February 8, 2022
Synopsis: In the all-new original Catwoman: Hunted, Catwoman’s attempt to steal a priceless jewel puts her squarely in the crosshairs of both a powerful consortium of villains and the ever-resourceful Interpol, not to mention Batwoman. It might just be enough to contain her. Or not.
Elizabeth Gillies and Stephanie Beatriz lead the cast of Catwoman: Hunted as the voices of Catwoman and Batwoman, respectively. Also featured is Jonathan Banks as Black Mask, Steve Blum as Solomon Grundy, Lauren Cohan as Julia Pennyworth, Keith David as Tobias Whale, Zehra Fazal as Talia al Ghul and Nosferata, Jonathan Frakes as King Faraday and Boss Moxie, Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Barbara Minerva/Cheetah, Kelly Hu as Cheshire, Andrew Kishino as Mr. Yakuza and Domino 6, Eric Lopez as Domino 1, Jacqueline Obradors as La Dama, and Ron Yuan as Doctor Tzin.
Catwoman: Hunted is directed by Shinsuke Terasawa from a script penned by Greg Weisman. Producer is Ethan Spaulding and Executive Producer is Sam Register.
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Catwoman: Hunted Animated Feature Review
By James Harvey
A fun if imperfect romp, the anime-inspired Catwoman: Hunted is a lively, stylish thriller with a strong cast, incredible music and some stand-out action beats. Clearly influenced by the anime classic Cowboy Bebop, among a few others, this DC Animated Movie release ends up being a real surprise, even if the occasionally clunky dialogue and slim plot hinder the festivities just a shade. Still, that’s not enough to stop this jaunt from being a nice change of pace and a heckuva good time.
As usual, spoilers will be kept at an absolute minimum as to not ruin some of the film’s surprises.
Appropriately enough, Catwoman: Hunted kicks off with our Feline Fatale attempting to boost a priceless jewel. Unfortunately the heist goes sour and Catwoman quickly finds herself squarely in the crosshairs of Leviathan, a consortium of ne’er-do-wells; Interpol and even Batwoman herself. Now, to earn her freedom, Catwoman must help Interpol take down Leviathan while staying one step ahead of her pursuers.
Described as “Young Justice-adjacent” by writer Greg Weisman, Catwoman: Hunted is a pretty big departure from his work on the fan-favorite DC Comics animated action series. Don’t expect something akin to the dense, complicated, dramatic tales from Weisman’s aforementioned Young Justice work. Instead, here we get an action-heavy but simple, breezy frolic across the globe, and it’s pretty terrific! The plot might get a little stretched toward the end, particularly the last 15-20 minutes or so, but keeping things casual and carefree allows the movie to unfold at its own appropriately floaty pace. It might not be what one would expect from Weisman or a Catwoman animated movie, but it works oh-so-well here.
While the “substance” may be a little light here, Catwoman: Hunted definitely has an abundance of “flash,” and that’s not exactly a bad thing. From the gorgeous opening credits to the stellar character designs, and even the animation itself (for the most part), this is unquestionably one of the best looking direct-to-video titles to come from Warner Bros. Animation and DC Comics. While there are little animation hiccups here and there, they are definitely less obtrusive and noticeable when compared to some of the recent DC Animated Movie and DC Universe Movie titles. The film’s animation style definitely helps to not only cover some of its shortcomings – the occasionally stilted and/or jerky movements – but it also adds a dash of flare to the action beats. That said, the climactic battle features some of the film’s best, smoothest and flashiest animation. The movie’s character designs also add a dash of cheesecake to most of the cast, playing up the film’s frisky tone. The film’s opening heist takes place at a costume ball, so keep your eye out for some great (and hilarious) DC Comics-inspired costumes.
Oh, pay attention to Catwoman: Hunted‘s opening credits, by the way. On top of looking absolutely stunning, it also basically lays-out one of the film’s subplots (“Sochi”) and how Catwoman ends up in the sticky situation that kicks this movie off.
That above is one of the many nifty treats in store from director Shinsuke Terasawa, whose love for anime classics such as Cowboy Bebop – plus his work on the likes of Lupin III, among others – is splashed across every frame. Catwoman: Hunted‘s overall tone and biting, quirky humor definitely takes more than a few cues from those acclaimed adventures. Even the movie’s premise hits the ground running in a fashion similar to the classic anime movie The Castle of Cogliostro, which itself began with a simple heist that quickly evolved into something much bigger.
Like Terasawa, composer Yutaka Yamada takes inspiration from the classics for his jazz-laden funky score for Catwoman: Hunted, and the result is a fabulous piece of work that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best of them. The brass, the bass work, the occasional techno beats, the improvisational feel – all of it just sinks its claws into you in an almost hypnotic fashion. It’s one of best scores ever to grace Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s DC Animated Movie and DC Universe Movie lines, no doubt, and it would be criminal if it wasn’t given an official soundtrack release.
Also impressive, on top of everything else mentioned so far, is Catwoman: Hunted‘s first-rate cast of voice talent. Elizabeth Gillies’ is clearly having a ball as the Bat’s Cat, playing her up as a devilishly clever Robin Hood who likes to indulge in a little fun and pleasure while out righting wrongs. Gillies superbly embodies the character, and really gets who she is, and it’d be great to see her return to the role in the future. In the main supporting role, Stephanie Beatriz plays Batwoman mostly as the snarky straight-woman to Catwoman. It takes a little bit for her to find her footing, coming off as a little flat initially (this isn’t on her, but I also couldn’t help but be reminded here of Beatriz’s Rosa Diaz character from Brooklyn Nine-Nine), though she eventually hits her groove and gets in on the fun. Gillies and Beatriz end up working off each other quite well, and Lauren Cohen, charming as Agent Julia Pennyworth, also does great work opposite the two.
The entire cast of Catwoman: Hunted is just aces, really. Jonathan Banks brings a smug, slimy vibe to Black Mask while Keith David is pitch-perfect as the hulking, barely restrained and clearly unhinged Tobias Whale. Kirby Howell-Baptiste, hamming it up as Lady Barbara Minerva, and Kelly Hu, bringing her A-game as always to the role of Cheshire, round out the film’s major antagonists. Even with the odd flat delivery on occasion, which is usually more so the result of sporadic clunky dialogue, there’s not really a weak link to be found across the entire assembled talent.
While Catwoman: Hunted is a consistently entertaining globe-trotter, it does stumble on occasion. The skimpy plot does slow things down a little in the film’s final quarter, and the dialogue can be occasionally overstuffed. Not all the jokes land either, and there’s unfortunately a couple of real clunkers, but the vast majority do and they hit hilariously hard. Expect to laugh out loud more than a few times.
Ultimately, even with a bump or two, Catwoman: Hunted is a total blast. Even though the enjoyment might start to wane a smidge before the end credits roll, it’s hard not to get sucked in with the movie’s jazzy, upbeat vibe and just roll with it. It’s also a fresh change of pace – in terms of tone, characters and animation style – from the recent DC Animated Movie and DC Universe Movie line. Both lines continue to churn out some great movies, no question, but it’s been awhile since we’ve seen anime-inspired feature in either (Not since 2008’s Batman: Gotham Knights and 2018’s Batman Ninja). It’s nice to see Warner Bros. Home Entertainment give us something a little different with this female-driven anime-inspired caper.
Inspired by the likes of Cowboy Bebop and Lupin III, among others, Catwoman: Hunted offers up something refreshingly different for fans of DC Comics’ animation output. It suffers from a dip or two, true, but damage is minimal to the fluffy affair. With its great character designs and animation, entertaining story and a packed cast of talent, Catwoman: Hunted a globe-trotting anime-flavored adventure that’s well-worth joining. Highly Recommended!
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