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movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Waterworld

Starring: Kevin Costner, Dennis Hopper
Director: Kevin Reynolds
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 136 Minutes
Release Date: July 1995
Genres: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action

*Also starring: Jeanne Tripplehorn, Tina Majorino, Michael Jeter, Gerard Murphy, R.D. Call, Kim Coates, John Fleck, Jack Black

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie review
2.  Brian Koller read the review movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review

Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4

WATERWORLD or HOLLYWOOD GOES JUNK was of the most controversial films of 1995. With a budget of over $175,000,000 producer Kevin Costner apparently asked set designer Dennis Gassner to go to a local junkyard and construct a set for a future world only out of cast off pieces of metal. WATERWORLD looks like a low budget BLADE RUNNER GOES TO SEA. How can the most expensive movie ever made look so ugly? Where did the money go?

Although not near as bad as it seems at first, this is a film with an innumerable list of problems. The script by Peter Rader, David Twohy, and Joss Whedon is needlessly confusing. Watching it is like starting with episode seven of the "The Forsyte Saga" and trying to decipher what has been happening. I had the same feeling when trying to parse the story in the failed movie DUNE.

WATERWORLD is set in the environmentalist most popular apocalyptic view of the future. The polar ice caps have melted, and the world is all water. The most valuable possession is dirt so that people can grow plants, and the most hoarded commodity is oil for water-skis and boats.

Some people are beginning to mutate into humans with gills who can swim underwater for long periods of time. The Mariner (Kevin Costner) is one such mutant. He is a loner who is willing to kill women and children to ensure his survival, and yet he turns into one of the most tender characters in the movie.

He may or may not know where dry land is, and dry land is the holy grail for everyone in WATERWORLD. Helen (Jeanne Tripplehorn) has a little girl named Enola (Tina Majorino) in her care. Enola has a tattoo on her back that is rumored to be some indecipherable map to dry land. Circumstances have cast all of them together on his boat.

Dennis Hopper loves to overact. As the Deacon, the leader of the evil Smokers, he plays his usual part. He gets to mouth inanities such as, "if I ever see him again, I'm going to cut open his head and eat his brain." The script dares you to take it seriously while for all intents and purposes becoming a parody of bad science fiction movies.

The movie consists of The Mariner, Helen, and Enola looking for dry land with the Smokers in hot pursuit to kill them and to find dry land. The movie is filled with stunt after unbelievable stunt in the battle of the Smoker army against The Mariner.

Many of the scenes in the show make little sense, and yet for some reason the film begins to grow on you after a while. I am not sure why. Perhaps you get sucked into the story. Is there dry land left, and if so, how exactly will they find it. Perhaps it is Tripplehorn's (BASIC INSTINCT and THE FIRM) beauty and toughness. She can look great in rags and even while starving to death. Maybe it is Costner's beguiling little smile. I don't know, but I stayed with it until the end. I did not need to. If you've seen part of it, there is little need to see the rest since it is basically the same. I found the ending a let down and did not care for the way the story was wrapped up.

There is one quite magical scene in the film where The Mariner takes Helen on an underwater journey and breathes for both of them. Here the sets finally have some beauty. Were that the rest of the film were of equal quality.

WATERWORLD runs way too long at 2:14. It is rated PG-13. There is brief nudity, some intense violence, and some bad language. I was kind of surprised it didn't get an R rating. The show should be fine for teenagers and perhaps for some mature kids ten and over. Although the show grew on me, it is too ridiculous for me to recommend it. I give it **.

Copyright 1995 Steve Rhodes

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