Hey there landlubbers. This is Slick, I live in a dungeon and I review movies that most people can’t stand. Let’s talk about Waterworld.
Believe it or not, there was a time when Kevin Costner wasn’t just famous for being the voice of a dog that loves car racing. He was also known for being the web footed, gill having, urine recycled water drinking, hero of the major Hollywood flop, Waterworld.
It’s the year, the future, and the polar ice caps have melted, causing the Earth to be drowned in water. In 1995 that sounded like a much more remote possibility than it does now. The filmmakers hadn’t figured out the true cost and difficulty of filming this thing on the water. You can’t shoot while planes are flying or you can see the Los Angeles skyscrapers in the background, so everything took forever to set up and there had to be multiple re-takes for everything. Plus, this not only had Kevin Costner raking in the big bucks but Dennis Hopper hamming it up for the cash too. This guaranteed that Waterworld had to be the hugest blockbuster this side of Jaws to make any money for anyone. Unfortunately for everyone involved, it was nearly universally hated by critics and audiences alike when it came out.
But the question remains, is this movie any good? If you ignore the history and just watch the film, can it work on an entertainment level? Nooooooooooope. It’s still pretty bad. Although, I could see how this one could reach a kind of cult status. It does have some dedicated fans and I suppose there could be a CGI remake or something that might work somehow with this thing. But for that to happen, a lot of things would have to change. That’s not to say you shouldn’t watch this though.
You can think of this film as Road Warrior but on the water. Land is scarce and basically considered a myth by the people inhabiting the planet. But there’s a never named drifter played by Kevin Costner who seems to be able to find dirt whenever he wants, There’s also a little girl named Enola who has a tattoo on her back that might be a clue to finding dry land. There’s a group of crazy jet ski riding, machine gun having, “Smokers” led by Dennis Hopper who want to get the tattoo map and find that good ol’ dry land for themselves. Why? Because the boat they are on, the Exxon Valdez is running out of oil and they need it for their tractor pulls! But don’t worry, the drifter guy is gonna save Enola. Well, eventually. You know, after he tosses her in the water, threatens to leave her behind and basically sells her mom to a dude for paper. But after that, man you better watch out because that guy who’s name we don’t know is gonna be out for blood against these Smokers.
Visually, this movie isn’t that bad. It’s got a kind of steampunk feel to it, not that different from the latest Mad Max movie. I do think, the fact that the boats everyone rides around on had to be made and exist in three dimensions actually helps this film. The acting isn’t bad either. Sure Dennis Hopper goes over the top with his performance but it’s done in a fun and relatively entertaining way. The little girl and her mother deliver serviceable performances and so do most of the extras around the film. Kevin Costner’s acting wasn’t bad although his accent is certainly a little weird here.
You know what I think makes people not like this movie? What a complete and total jerk Kevin Costner’s character is. He’s a drifter out on the sea and he barely says two words to anyone. People help him to survive an attack by the Smokers and he promptly wants to toss a little girl who can’t swim overboard. (Wouldn’t that be like the first thing you teach kids in this world but whatever). He’s considered a freak because he has webbed toes and actual gills. Let’s just never mind the fact that’s not how evolution works at all and go with it for a minute. I didn’t have that much of a problem with the gills and all but the jerkiness was messed up. At one point the dude does actually toss the girl overboard. He also chops off her mother’s hair and then her hair, because he was big and intimidating to them and they touched his stuff. Not sure I can get behind a hero like that but at least I can think, hey in the end he’ll come through. But then a dude comes along and asks to buy the mom and the girl, Obviously disgusting stuff going on there. The drifter doesn’t stoop so low as selling the girl but he sure does “rent out” the mom for a half an hour. The drifter does come in and stop the guy before he does anything too bad, but by then it’s too late for me to get behind this hero anymore.
The drifter dude then shows the mom how he’s been getting dirt. His gills let him get to the bottom of the ocean here all our cities, cars and nacho cheese has been buried under water. He’s just been grabbing this stuff cause he can hold his breath longer than other people and then trading the dirt for the stuff he needs. So this dry land thing could still be a myth.
But not only is the drifter a jerk, he’s a moron. While he was down below, the Smokers show up and kidnap Enola. By the way, while watching this movie, I defy you to be able to not think the first few times that they are actually calling this girl granola. But anyway, she’s kidnapped. Now the drifter has to go and save her. I didn’t buy at all that he would want to do that, period. He really seemed to have no empathy for anyone but himself. But obviously, Kevin Costner doesn’t want us hating him for his acting choices so he goes ahead and takes on the smokers, blows up their ship and saves the girl.
Here’s the reason you should watch this movie. The fights in this spot are actually really fun. From watching the dudes on the Valdez drive around a rusted car, to Kevin Costner calling out Dennis Hopper, to the old dude in the bottom of the boat thanking God for death, I got lots of chuckles. The rest of the movie, I could pretty much take or leave. Well, except for the drifter. I could leave him. It had me almost wishing they had tried to make this into a comedy. That I could have gotten behind.
So next time, if you’re wondering if you should go back and see some of Kevin Costner’s classics, include uh… parts of… Waterworld.
Next week, be sure to put on your Sunday shoes because I will be reviewing Bloody Bloody Bible Camp. You know it’s good cause it has an extra Bloody.