Waterworld (1995)

Beyond the horizon lies the secret to a new beginning.

In a futuristic world where the polar ice caps have melted and made Earth a liquid planet, a beautiful barmaid rescues a mutant seafarer from a floating island prison. They escape, along with her young charge, Enola, and sail off aboard his ship.

You're a fool to believe in something you've never seen.
Waterworld is directed by Kevin Reynolds and jointly written by David Twohy, Peter Rader and Joss Whedon. It stars Kevin Costner, Dennis Hopper, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Tina Majorino, Michael Jeter and Gerard Murphy. Music is scored by James Newton Howard and cinematography by Dean Semler.
It's the future and the polar ice caps have melted and the Earth is practically covered by the sea. As civilisation is forced to live on the water, their only hope is to one day find the fabled place known as Dryland. A Mariner drifter may hold the key to Dryland's whereabouts...
It was by definition a troubled shoot, with sackings, difference of opinions, cost overruns, production set backs (hurricane destroying a hugely expensive set) and bad word of mouth generated by a film press intent on giving Kevin Costner a good kicking. Facts are, now that all the water has evaporated over the years, Waterworld is neither the flop or the bad film that many believed it to be. Should it be a better movie considering the gargantuan amounts of cash spent on it? Absolutely, without question! But Waterworld turned a decent profit in spite of its problems and mixed reviews, and now it firmly has a fan base willing to love it for the great sci-fi escapism that it is. Now readily available in 3 cuts (Theatrical, TV Edit and Ulysses), you can sample each to find the pros and cons of home format film tampering.
Even in its theatrical form the film is still a rollicking water based adventure, full of spectacular stunts (oh my those jet-skis rock), amazing sets (whoosh, the sci-fi grandeur of the floating atoll) and blood pumping scenes (the eerie journey and subsequent revelation of a city under water). Sure it's far from flawless as the pace is uneven at times and as plot narratives go it's pretty thin, but Reynolds and Costner have crafted an impressive world submerged by water. The cast, too, are delivering knowing performances. Costner's Mariner is indeed one note, unsympathetic and moody, this guy is a loner and a mutation after all, his sombre persona neatly playing against Hopper's cartoonish, satirical and maniacal villain. Tripplehorn (a porn star name if ever there was one!) beautifully shines in a film populated predominantly by males (there's another flaw for you), Michael Jeter scores favourably as a highly strung elder, while young Majorino is suitably winsome, neatly playing it as a device to mellow the Mariner's cold fishy heart. Take that and fill it out with the detail of the definitive cut (Ulysses) which showcases Reynolds' vision and it's fan nirvana all round.
If it was meant to be a serious picture in the first place, a sermon on topical destroying of the Earth, then it fails a touch because the characterisations are bound by cliché manacles. Yet collectively the inhabitants of this Waterworld share a common goal of survival, played out to the backdrop of Reynolds' excellent futuristic setting. When thrust together to make a good versus evil action movie, the characterisations work handsomely within that framework. That is ultimately the best way to enjoy Waterworld, let it wash over you (hrr hrr hrr) in a wave (hrr, OK I'll stop now) of water based action and heroics. It's a world where soil is currency and smoking is a marker for being a bad guy. From the opening shot of the Universal World logo becoming submerged in water, to the bittersweet finale, yes! Waterworld is indeed escapism in its purest cinematic form and becomes a high definition must in the process. 8/10

Gordon Company, Davis Entertainment, Universal Pictures, Licht/Mueller Film Corporation by Kevin Reynolds, Peter Rader, David Twohy.
Stars: Kevin Costner, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Dennis Hopper, Tina Majorino.

Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Keywords: diving ocean tattoo sailboat mutant water post-apocalyptic pirate oil tanker environmental disaster reluctant hero

07/28/1995

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