WWTW Rewind – ‘Waterworld’ (1995)

WWTW Rewind – ‘Waterworld’ (1995)

Kevin Costner’s “Waterworld” was ahead of its time in more ways than one.

For starters, it imagined a global warming-style scenario years before Hollywood picked up on the trend.

Now, the film is getting a double chance at redemption with a two-disk set being released today (Nov. 4). The film’s theatrical version can be found on the first disc, and an extended “Waterworld” featuring 40 minutes of unseen footage can be found on disk two.

Watching it today, sans the bad buzz, reveals an uneven actioner that still packs plenty to recommend it. (Confession time, I viewed the shorter, theatrical version.)

“Waterworld” imagines a future in which the world’s land masses are no more. Water, water everywhere, and the few remaining people have learned to live atop the liquid landscape.

Costner’s character, dubbed the Mariner, goes one step further. He’s got gills growing behind his ears, the first possible step in a new evolution.

The Mariner teams up with a group of kind-hearted survivors against The Deacon (Dennis Hopper), a snarling villain cut from some pretty cheesy cloth. The villains and heroes alike all shop at the Mad Max Outlet – can’t a post-apocalyptic film find a new designer?

The fashion faux paus are hardly reason enough the film got dubbed “Fishtar” and “Kevin’s Gate” upon its release. Blame budget woes for the bad press – and the desire to knock Costner off his box office pedestal.

Press clippings aside, the film looks gorgeous on DVD (standard, not Blu-ray). It’s stunning to behold, a clear, crisp production brimming with beautiful shades of blue.

“Waterworld” boasts an uneven series of set pieces meant to blow audiences out of the water. But they’re often clumsily shot, leaving Costner to flail around the waterlogged sets with only his dour screen presence to save him.

What’s sorely missing here are the “making of” featurette, or even a few comments from Costner himself. The actor is one of the more thoughtful stars in Hollywood, and who wouldn’t want to hear his reflections on the film — and its brutal reception.

Plus, the film itself is like one big Rube Goldberg device, a fascinating series of levers, loops and gears which keeps our heroes afloat. Wonder how they made it all possible …

Still, “Waterworld” got a bum rap upon its release, and the spiffy new DVD release should help correct the public record.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Synner_manNo Gravatar November 5, 2008 at 4:58 am

I picked this up today and was also surprised by the lack of any real extras. Any bad blood between Costner and Reynolds seems to be gone (they did a commentary track together for “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”), so an honest look at production shouldn’t have been out of the question.

David A.No Gravatar November 5, 2008 at 9:28 am

Waterworld was never as bad as the critics said. Like you said, it had a lot to do with all the budget overruns and with the rest of Hollywood basically being catty about the whole thing.

I also don’t think there was very much affection for Reynolds in Hollywood. They didn’t like him from when Robin Hood came out. But, it seemed to be a personal criticism of him that went beyond just merely being a mediocre director. Being mediocre is enough for criticism and is entirely fair, but the problems with Reynolds seem to have gone beyond that.

I always thought Waterworld was OK. Not great, not terrible.

But, from the criticism you’d have thought it was that Cindy Crawford/William Baldwin movie or something.

cftotoNo Gravatar November 5, 2008 at 2:33 pm

Exactly. The venom directed toward the film was disproportional to the film’s flaws.

ChaseNo Gravatar November 5, 2008 at 5:05 pm

I watch it when it comes on TV from time to time, a fun story, and I love the weird dude who floats around the oil inside the Hopper’s big tanker … kind of a Ben Gunn of a future world.

Now, I encourage you to watch Ishtar again, my dad and I always liked that movie, it’s really pretty funny, honestly.

cftotoNo Gravatar November 5, 2008 at 5:38 pm

I dug the first 30 minutes of Ishtar … then it lived down to its rep. Will watch it again when it hits cable

Brian SwisherNo Gravatar November 6, 2008 at 12:46 am

Sorry. Not even a nude Jeanne Tripplehorn can induce me to watch “Waterworld” again…

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