I was one of those rare people it seems in 1995 when WATERWORLD was released to theaters. I saw the trailer and looked forward to it. The internet hadn't taken over yet so bashing the film was limited to the press and shows like ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT. All they could seem to focus on was the expense of making the film. They were calling it a train wreck before anyone had even seen it. I ignored it and went to the theater to see the film and loved every minute of it. But before I get into all that what is the movie about?
In the future the ice caps have melted and the world is now covered in water. A lone mariner (Kevin Costner) sails the seas in his trimaran looking for items to trade at various atolls that exists, bonded together ships and such where groups of people live and continue to try and survive. Sailing the seas as well are "smokers", pirates who raid and kill to take what they want. He escapes one of these groups and heads out to trade.
The atoll he comes across seems safe enough. The people there exist, use their dead to renew their fertilizer pit and dream of a world called Dryland. He trades the most precious commodity there is for chits, dry soil. Taking his chits he goes to the nearby store and meets Helen (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and her little girl Enola (Tina Majorino). A group of townspeople question him and angry at his responses notice that he has gills; the Mariner is a mutant, able to swim underwater. They capture and cage him, deciding he must die.
But before that can happen smokers attack the atoll. They're searching for a girl one of their spies learned about. That girl is Enola and she has a special tattoo on her back, one that is supposed to be the map to Dryland. A battle follows and Helen's friend Gregor (Michael Jeter) escapes in a balloon he made but is unable to rescue Helen and Enola. Seeing him as her only way out, she releases the Mariner and boards his trimaran and the three escape.
The leader of the smokers is Deacon (Dennis Hopper) who is wounded during the escape losing an eye. He now not only wants the girl with the map but revenge for his loss. And he will do anything in his power to find the Mariner and his passengers.
Nice set up, eh? So much more happens including the interactions between the Mariner and his passengers, the search by Deacon and the smokers and the fight sequences that take place not just with them but other ships that come upon the trio. Through it all the Mariner begins to change. He learns to become more human and the non-mutant humans with him learn that he isn't any different than they are. And all along the quest for Dryland rumbles beneath everything.
So here is the deal. When the movie came out in 1995 Kevin Costner was at the top of his game. He'd just come off of a huge string of hits and was box office gold. Starting in 85 and through 94 he made SILVERADO, THE UNTOUCHABLE, NO WAY OUT, BULL DURHAM, FIELD OF DREAMS, DANCES WITH WOLVES, ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES, JFK, THE BODYGUARD and WYATT EARP. What I've noticed about Hollywood, and especially the press, is that when a star reaches a point like this they begin to try and tear them down. It's as if they are jealous of their success and suddenly none of the movies they make gets good press. It doesn't matter if the movie is good or not, they slam it and find fault with it. This movie was Costner's take down flick. After this film he continued to make great movies but you'd never know that based on critic's reviews. He still does but don't expect them to say so.
This movie has some amazing elements to it and that should have been the focus. The concept was original and the work that the team behind the cameras did to make it plausible was fantastic. The methods of filtering body water to continue to drink it, the various ways the trimaran is able to be controlled by one man (not really but it is in the film) and the locations where survivors gather are so realistic and believable. That alone should have made people marvel at the film.
But it offers more than that. There is a great story being told here as well. Not just about those trying to survive but the humanizing of a character far too long on his own. It also provides a new twist on an old story at the same time, pirates searching for treasure and seeking a map to find it. That's as old as TREASURE ISLAND. But for me the best thing was that the film harkened back to the swashbuckling films of Errol Flynn. As a die-hard Flynn fan who still loves watching CAPTAIN BLOOD and THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD this film presented that same sort of adventure. And Costner was up to it. He fit the mold perfectly and yet go no credit for doing so.
The special effects here are mind boggling. The vehicles are real enough to survive the sea and be shot on film. And speaking of the cinematography is wonderful as well. Dean Semler shows why he is one of the top directors of photography in the business. Kevin Reynolds also does a great job here too, bringing all the elements together in the most marvelous ways.
If that weren't enough there isn't a cast member in here who falters. Costner I've said enough about. Tripplehorn was still in the early stage of her career having just been in THE FIRM with Tom Cruise. Hopper was at his wildest and brings Deacon to life as no one else could have. And Majorino, at the time only 10 years old, showed that she could keep up with the stars. That she's gone on to have a successful career is good news having had roles in both VERONICA MARS and SCORPION on TV as well as the cult favorite NAPOLEON DYNAMITE. Yes, that really is her!
So the movie's been out on disc in the past and even on blu-ray. So why would anyone want to pick up a new version of this film. Two words should make that an easy answer: Arrow Video.
Yes Arrow Video has gone all out on this one. It's not enough that they treat it like they do all their releases making them the best version possible. Oh no, they had to make this one special. How special? Let's begin with the fact that this is a 4k scan from the original camera negative making it the most amazing looking version of the film since it was released. But wait there's more. There is not one, not two but THREE versions of the film to be seen here. There is the original version at 2 hours and 15 minutes long. Then there is the TV cut with an additional 40 minutes that includes alternative footage. But then they went and made an extended European cut that restored previously censored shots and dialogue to that TV cut making the film run 2 hours and 57 minutes long! Take a breath!
Wow, pretty good. That should satisfy most people. Oh no, there is more. More? Yes, more! There are 6 collector's postcards, a double-sided fold-out poster, a limited edition 60 page perfect bound book with new writing by David J. Moore and Daniel Griffith with archival articles and original reviews, a reversible sleeve with original and new artwork done by Paul Shipper, MAELSTORM: THE ODYSSEY OF WATERWORLD a feature length making of documentary on the film, an original archival featurette on the making of the film, GLOBAL WARMING a featurette with film critic Glenn Kenny exploring the subgenre of ecologically aware Hollywood films, production stills, visual effects stills gallery and the original trailers and TV spots. Arrow, you're making everyone else look bad, keep it up!
I can't begin to recommend this movie enough or this version of it. As a fan it is a dream come true, a movie that deserved better than it got. It's easy when you're not making the movie to criticize everything about it and to ridicule it for going over budget. But the money spent at least ended up on the screen. While I was only able to watch the first version of the film so far I know I'll be watching the other two in the next day or so. I finished that first and can't wait to get started on the next version. But it's coming out now and I need to let readers know. This is a great movie that you can now re-discover or find for the first time. I suggest that you take the voyage to Waterworld today.
Review by kirbylee70-599-526179 from the Internet Movie Database.