For nearly eleven years now, I’ve heard nothing but horrendous comments about Kevin Costner’s post-apocalyptic film Waterworld. Critics and audiences alike have torn this film a new one, claiming that the film was boring and full of so many holes that it literally swallows itself. While I didn’t absolutely love the film, it surely surprised the hell out of me as I found it to be rather entertaining.
The basic plot of the film goes something like this. The unknown future has arrived along with the me…ting of the polar ice caps. The Earth is covered almost entirely in water. The humans that are left have totally forgotten the past and tend to believe in a modified creation belief in which their god, or creator, created the world covered entirely with water. There is also a so called ‘dry-land’ somewhere on the planet. Actor Kevin Costner stars as a drifter (i.e. people who ply the water in their boats trading and collecting with one another) named Mariner. He’s a mutant of sorts with webbed feet and gills (a very useful attribute to have especially considering the amount of water surrounding him). The other main group of people are the Smokers who are basically pirates who inhabit abandoned oil tankers. The Smokers have been tipped off that a girl named Elona, whose mother is named Helen, has a tattoo on her back that serves as a map toward Dry-land.
I’ll fully admit that going into Waterworld I had extremely low expectations due to all the negative feedback I’ve heard about the film. Trust me here, Waterworld is by no means a good film, but it isn’t as bad as everyone has said it is. The premise is extremely daunting and scary, especially in the day and age we live in where each passing year is getting hotter and hotter. The inside pokes are funny (the abandoned oil tankers named ‘Deez’ after Exxon Valdez, and the portion at the end with landsickness’). But I found the ending of the film rather odd, and frankly, really dumb.
For any of us that know anything about the tallest points on our planet, the ended Dry-land, we can assume, is suppose to be Mount Everest due to it 29K feet, an elevation that would protect a portion of it from the rising water levels. According to the film, this Dry-land was basically a tropical area full of vegetation, forests, waterfalls and, yes, horses. Last I checked Mount Everest, unless it has changed dramatically, doesn’t have any of the above mentioned items. Maybe this is a nit-pick item on my level, but I felt the film would have had a much more satisfying conclusion if the place that the Mariner assumed was Dry-land (the place he takes Helen), was the actual Dry-land. Another problem is that the look of the water gets a bit tiresome to look at after 136 minutes of watching. The film cost over $175 Million Dollars to produce (most of it over budget), yet none of the sets looked that expensive or amazing.
Still, Waterworld was a lot better than a majority of critics claimed it was. The acting was serviceable (Costner was convincing enough as Mariner, Dennis Hopper as Deacon was a good enough villain and the other two supporting roles of Helen (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and Elona (Tina Majorino) did a fine enough job), the dialogue had a nice humor twist to it, and the overall premise was interesting enough. The areas where the film falls apart are in the overall conclusion and the look of the film. Despite these two problems, I enjoyed Waterworld enough to recommend that you take a look at it if you haven’t yet.
Presented in a 1080p, VC-1 Encoded, 1:85:1 widescreen aspect ratio, Waterworld, even though the source is a bit dated at 11 years, still looks good enough.
Waterworld was filmed right before the ultra-famous CGI took over, giving the film a more realistic, gritty feel. This also, however, does give the film a bit heavier level of grain, but that feels more appropriate here. The slight problem is that while the grain was in check, the dirt found on the print resulted in frequent sequences of washed out colors and types of sparks on the screen.
Color usage was fine enough, but lacked that HD quality we’ve come to expect. Since a majority of the film takes place during the day, we get a lot of bright whites and yellows that give the film a vibrant, crisp look that truly does look great. The problem here was that the detail, especially in the close-ups, tended to drop out giving some sequences nearly perfect imagery while the very next sequence seemed overly flat.
Fans of Waterworld will be pleased to know that Universal has given it a fine transfer that is, for the most part, consistent.
Coming equipped with a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 audio track encoded at 1.5mbps, Waterworld sounded great after nearly ten years.
Sound effects were also alive and powerful, even during the quieter moments where Mariner was floating along the ocean. We could hear birds and the wind giving the true feel of the openness of the ocean. Surround usage was also quiet good here. Every sequence played out perfectly giving us a true feel of the battle that was raging around the waterworld.
The score by James Newton Howard was excellent, reminding me a bit of The Mummy by Jerry Goldsmith. The deep bass and constant rising of the music during the final battle sequence was a truly nice listening experience. Dynamic Range was top-notch with many sequences of clear, crisp dialogue and fine mid-range reproduction. A truly great job here Universal.
Here’s the portion where the disc crashes and burns itself. The SD DVD had zero features and Universal decided not to produce any HD exclusive stuff leaving us with nothing.
Sure, Waterworld isn’t the best movie around, but it sure was a fun enough time despite the rather dumb ending. Universal has provided a fine transfer with a rocking audio experience. The true letdown here is that we get no features. Even though I enjoyed the film for the most part, the lack of features makes me recommend that you give this one a rental one Saturday night as I’m sure you find something to enjoy here.