I honestly don't understand what all the fuss is about. Why do people hate Waterworld? Why was it instantly disregarded before it was even released? When you really think about it, how much different IS Waterworld from the more recent Pirates of the Caribbean movies? They are quite similar if you think about it. Waterworld also cost $75 million less than the average PotC budget. But because those movies have Johnny Depp in mascara the whole world loves it! Hypocrisy!
With a lot of behind the scenes trouble (director Kevin Reynolds walked off the film and Costner had to finish the final third of filming himself) and negative pre-release buzz, everyone expected Waterworld to fail. Boasting a budget of £175 million (the most expensive ever until Titanic 2 years later) it was sure to be a flop, especially with the snooty public and critics blasting it before its release. Then, the unthinkable happened. Upon release, Waterworld actually managed to prove critic expectation wrong and be a good movie, receiving good (albeit ignored) reviews and finally earning a grand total of $255 million at the Box Office. This is before video, laserdisc, TV, DVD and Blu Ray sales. Does that sound like a flop to you?
The plot is far-fetched. Yes, but so is a plot involving fish-men, giant squids and Orlando Bloom as anything remotely masculine. But you accepted that quite easily. So just, for a minute, believe that if the polar ice caps DID melt that the world WOULD be covered in water. Set hundreds of years after this particular cataclysm, Waterworld follows the journey of The Mariner (Kevin Costner, who is only referred to a few times but never actually named), a man who is one step beyond human as he has the ability to breathe underwater and has webbed feet.
Early on in the movie, The Mariner comes across an Atoll, a floating small town complete with its own Waterbillies. When the Atoll is seized by crazed madman baddie boss Dennis Hopper as The Duke of the Deez (as in Exxon Valdeez), The Mariner escapes with Enola, a little girl who may hold the secret of Dryland and her guardian Helen (the totally gorgeous Jeanne Tripplehorn). Not happy with anyone leaving the party The Duke sends his army of filthy smokers to catch The Mariner and discover Dryland for himself.
Waterworld has a lot going for it. It's everything an action/sci-fi movie should be. There is so much escapism in the stunning seascapes and tropical feel. James Newton Howard's exotic score (replacing a rejected score by Mark Isham) is breathtaking and I seriously recommend you hunt down Waterworld (Original Score)
. The action is almost entirely special effects and stuntwork and it's brilliantly done. The editing is also quite impressive as is the amazing sound design. Waterworld is far superior to many, more expensive action films but still carries this burden of negative, unfair public opinion.
I have only ever seen the 136-minute cut of Waterworld that was released into cinemas and subsequent VHS etc. But a Director's Cut of 176 minutes has been shown on TV in America several times. This version apparently restores several scenes that tie up loose ends and answers a lot of questions about how the this particular watery future works as well as revealing that Dryland is actually Mount Everest. Other than TV airings, this version has never made available to the public (the extended DVD was still cut and had censored swearing). The Blu Ray was a chance to put it right, but Universal fumbled the ball and have had a terrible track record with their catalog movies. Never say never though.
Don't have prejudices against this movie. Think different and see for yourself how good it is.
I've often wondered why Waterworld was filmed flat. Surely a film of this size and ambition should be made in Panavision or some other equivalent. But no, 1.85:1 is it and the 1080p transfer looks brilliant. Suntans come off as deep and brown, water shots have lots of previously unseen detail and fire is bright and...er...firey. You'll know what I mean if you watch it. A few shots though, particularly some CGI shots, can come across a heavily grainy. But I think that this is probably just a production problem rather than a mastering error. A huge step up from the standard definition DVD.
Regarding the Academy Award-nominated sound design you're in for a sonic assault. Waterworld sounds incredible in DTS HD-MA, and you'll love it. Sound effects and explosions come through clear as a bell and with plenty of base and James Newton Howard's lush score will make you feel all warm or thrill you to bits, depending on the scene.
No extras through. A tragedy. Especially since there has to be so much behind the scenes material. No commentary. No deleted scenes. Nothing! A very poor effort on Universal's part.