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MatchFlick Member Reviews
Waterworld
2 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
Kevin Reynolds

Written By:
Peter Rader, Marc Norman, David N. Twohy

Cast:
Kevin Costner, Dennis Hopper, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Tina Majorino, Michael Jeter, R.D. Call, Robert Joy

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Waterworld (1995)
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Movie Review by Jarrod
January 23rd, 2011

'Waterworld' generated so much negative publicity upon release that it was denounced by critics and viewers alike, and went on to be a tremendous box office failure, a colossal flop, one of several for Kevin Costner, whose career took a nosedive with this, and The Postman, and has still never quite recovered. Costner was once a highly bankable star, and even an Oscar-winning director, and then he financed 'Waterworld' and it all went downhill from there. This is not a bad movie by any means; it is better than many of its detractors are willing to admit. However, it is also astonishingly silly, and derivative, but also very entertaining, an immensely ambitious sci-fi epic with several thrilling action sequences, and a dreary, wonderfully realized post-apocalyptic setting, in which the polar icecaps have melted and the entire planet is covered in water. Saltw*ter more specifically.

People desperately search for dry land, which may only be a myth, but they also search for a source of freshwater, to drink and bathe in. The movie could be called Mad Max on Water, because that is more or less what it is. Costner plays a character known simply as The Mariner, a mutant with gills and webbed feet, a drifter who sails aimlessly without a precise destination, looking only for places to dock briefly and gather more of the resources he needs to survive.

He stumbles upon a superstitious community where he arrives for trade, selling a jar of dirt. Dirt is something many have not actually seen, and so it has become a valuable rarity. He is captured, however, and sentenced to death, simply for being a mutant, a freak, a danger to humans. He is rescued by a beautiful barmaid, Helen (Jeanne Tripplehorn), who persuades the Mariner to take her with him, along with a little girl named Enola (Tina Majorino), who has a tattoo on her back that is claimed to be a map showing the way to dry land. Helen is not Enola's mother, but she cares for, and strives to protect her.

The Mariner initially has no interest in them or their safety, but eventually starts to like them, and regard them as friends. Enola is being pursued by the Smokers, and their psychotic leader Deacon (Dennis Hopper), who has set himself up as a kind of prophet. The Smokers are one of many tribes that have emerged from the chaos, as humans have inevitably reverted to their most primal instincts, motivated by self-preservation. Most of the movie's second half is an extended chase across the open seas, and a daring rescue attempt by the Mariner once Enola is finally captured. The film's budget was $175 million, a record for the time, but since surpassed by the likes of Avatar. Its international gross was only around $89 million. I don't know why it did so poorly. It has everything audiences expect from a summer blockbuster. Costner is very appealing, captivating and charismatic, even if his role here does not require a lot of genuine acting talent. Tripplehorn functions well enough as eye candy, but also creates a strong-willed female protagonist.

The weak link might be Tina Majorino, who sort of fell off the radar after this movie, and does not do anything especially impressive, except get into trouble and see through to the Mariner's softer side. The real treat is Hopper, of course, whose over-the-top performance really delivers the goods. Over-the-top is something Hopper does better than anyone else, save Pacino or Nicholson, and that is often required of a villain like Deacon, cartoonish and funny at certain points, deranged and menacing at others. It spawned a truly awful SNES game, from a French developer, quite obscure now, and not worth playing. I mention it only because of the fantastic music, which you can hear samples of on Youtube. You should really check it out. A track called Diving especially.

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