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
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
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