From Joe's Shelf
"In the Future, the world is covered in water, and a loner must put aside his selfish ways to save a hunted child."
In 1995, every critic and their mama took their turns beating on this so called "dead fish". With a record setting budget (at the time) and coming off of Kevin Costner's over-bloated attempt at Wyatt Earp (1994), it's understandable why the Haterade was poured on so thick for this film. The thing is, I loved Waterworld back then, and I love Waterworld still.
This is a Summer blockbuster hands down. Think of it as Mad Max with boats. The action is large scale, the early age CG isn't bad at all, the special eccentricities of the characters is uniquely funny, and the musical score knows when to play it big, and when to slow it down and be more intimate. The sets look beat down and rusty, however a closer look shows the elaborate effort that went into those details.
Costner's anti-hero can be seen as a bland grumpy grump to most, but I put it to you to see his performance the dozens of times that I have, and not notice that there's a complicated sweetheart under it all. What's great about his Mariner character, is that he says more with a scowl and an action, than as a loudmouth who monologues.
The castaways on his "cooler than a sailboat should be" sailboat, are a good and meh combination of Jeanne Tripplehorn's (Big Love) mother figure, and Tina Majorino's (Napoleon Dynamite) adorable little girl. Tripplehorn isn't as annoying as her character could've been, yet the film's only purposes for her are to explain Majorino's past and be a potential warm body for Costner to cuddle with. Majorino is great as that kid that's not afraid to speak her mind, even when her mouth can get her into trouble.
Leading the large group of greedy baddies called the Smokers, is Dennis Hopper's (Speed) sarcastic southerner called The Deacon. His Smokers have their own humorous personalities , but Hopper is on another level as that asshole you love to hate that never shuts up. One of the film's character highlights is from Kim Coates' (Sons of Anarchy) loony trader, who just wants half an hour to get frisky.
Highs- The coolest intro using the Universal Pictures logo, Smokers attacks that always come up short, fishing for monsters, Costner and Majorino bond over a swim, going deep to see "dry land", the Mariner's underwater skills, and taking down "The Dez".
Lows- A little more back story and a few less filler characters, would have been appreciated.
Look for Jack Black (Nacho Libre) in a couple scenes as a dirty Smoker pilot. Waterworld is an underrated action spectacle that eventually made its money back and then some. If you still doubt my praise, watch it using my perspective points, and I guarantee that the film will improve in your eyes. Or you might just think it's still a big turd like Costner's The Postman (1997). But at least this turd floats.
Rating- 7.5 out of 10
PG-13 | 2h 15min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi | 28 July 1995 (USA)
In a future where the polar ice-caps have melted and Earth is almost entirely submerged, a mutated mariner fights starvation and outlaw "smokers," and reluctantly helps a woman and a young girl try to find dry land.
Director: Kevin Reynolds
Writers: Peter Rader, David Twohy
Stars: Kevin Costner, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Dennis Hopper