Waterworld (1995)

waterworld poster 1995 movie
6.0 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 7/10
Visual: 8/10

Big budget visuals, Dennis Hopper's craziness adds some spark to dull script

Weak story, hacked to pieces

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Waterworld

Studio:  Universal Pictures/Gordon Company/Davis Entertainment

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  July 28, 1995

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

waterworld mariner kevin costner

Kevin Costner caught in the headlights look…no wait…that’s just his look

The world has flooded and dry land is a myth.  The seas are roamed by people like the Mariner (Kevin Costner) who has secret abilities and Smokers who raid and pillage all they find.  When the Mariner finds himself with a girl named Enola (Tina Majorino) and her adopted mother Helen (Jeanne Tripplehorn), he is pursued by the Deacon (Dennis Hopper) and his Smokers.  Enola could be the key to finding dry land…and everyone wants her.

Directed by Kevin Reynolds, Waterworld is an action-adventure sci-fi movie.  The film faced multiple production problems and a skyrocketing budget.  An almost three hour of the film was cut down by Costner and the studio to a version slightly over two hours to help cost, but the unedited version was eventually released on TV.  The film was met with criticism and a box office bomb but has gained a following since its release.  The movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Sound and won a Razzie for Worst Supporting Actor (Hopper) with nominations for Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Costner) and Worst Director.

Yeah, bloodthirsty Smokers are chasing us and your daughter is endanger, but I thought it was a good time to go sightseeing…my bad

I didn’t see Waterworld when it was released.  It was kind of a joke.  I did see it on video, and it felt like a hodgepodge of Mad Max (particularly The Road Warrior) and generic big budget action.  In retrospect, the movie is slightly better, but it still isn’t all it could be.

The basic concept is sound, but the execution isn’t.  The story is pretty weak.  Besides the basic premise, it doesn’t feel like there is much to go with.  The longer version of the film expands the world and the mythos of the world, but as the film stands, it isn’t very compelling and feels long enough (and full of characters making stupid, costly mistakes).

Kevin Costner plays the normal stoic Kevin Costner character and in addition to his quiet demeanor, the character is a bit of an ass for too long to be likable.  He is joined by Jeanne Tripplehorn as the guardian and adoptive mother of the “chose” child.  Tina Majorino plays the young Enola and is a slightly better child star than most.  Dennis Hopper is to the max in this movie and sometimes feels like he’s in some other film (like he always does).  He doesn’t quite fit here like he fits in Blue Velvet and Speed, but he does add some absurd life to a flat script.

waterworld dennis hopper deacon smokers

Wait…what movie is this?! I was just going down the street to Whole Foods

Visually, the movie is big budgeted and it looks it.  Unfortunately, it feels like this budget is wasted due to the plot.  The film has massive sets (which didn’t float as well as designers hoped) and the movie to a big budget “adventure” show at Universal theme parks called Waterworld:  A Live Sea War Spectacular (which looked almost as good).

Waterworld was a big misfire by Costner who was hot at the time (though his follow-up film The Postman cemented his bust).  Costner can take a lot of the blame for the movie since he had his hands over the final creation and the movie does feel like it was a set-up for sequels (or at least a Waterworld “universe”).  The movie is excessive and performs like an unchecked ego in many ways…and like it or hate it, the movie is something to see.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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