Waterworld

Thematically modest but logistically ambitious, this seagoing science-fiction adventure was originally envisioned as a Roger Corman-produced quickie. The thrifty mogul demurred, concerned about the budget; the film eventually cost $175 million. Is the money on the screen? Sort of: WATERWORLD is simultaneously overproduced and insufficiently imagined. In...read more

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Thematically modest but logistically ambitious, this seagoing science-fiction adventure was originally envisioned as a Roger Corman-produced quickie. The thrifty mogul demurred, concerned about the budget; the film eventually cost $175 million. Is the money on the screen? Sort of: WATERWORLD is simultaneously overproduced and insufficiently imagined. In the future, the polar ice caps have melted and flooded the Earth. The Mariner (Kevin Costner) has adapted well to this watery new world, sailing in a specially designed trimaran and salvaging treasures from the sea. At the Atoll, a floating armored settlement, he trades soil for a plant and some water but runs afoul of Atoll customs. Unwilling to impregnate a local girl, he's unmasked as web-footed mutant with working gills and is saved from execution by trader Helen (Jeanne Tripplehorn), under cover of an attack by marauding "Smokers," who terrorize the seas in their oil-powered vessels. In return, Helen wants safe transport for her adopted daughter, Enola (Tina Majorino), and herself. The trouble is that head Smoker Deacon (Dennis Hopper) wants Enola for the tattoo on her back, a map that's said to lead to the mythical Dryland. The Mariner is reluctant, but eventually agrees to help. As news of a monumentally troubled shoot whose production costs were skyrocketing drifted in from far-off Hawaii, the movie industry buzzed that WATERWORLD would be a disaster of legendary proportions and would bring successful actor-producer Kevin Costner down a peg in the Hollywood pecking order. Wags whispered "Fish-tar" and "Kevin's Gate" as director Kevin Reynolds quit during post-production. Despite the negative hype, the film is far from horrendous and managed to turn a modest profit, despite its enormous cost. Any Hollywood spectacle that opens with its superstar protagonist drinking his own urine — distilled, granted, but pee nonetheless — has something going for it. WATERWORLD aspires to laud ecological values: The villains burn oil, smoke cigarettes and eat a processed flesh product called "Smeat," while the hero lives at peace with the sea. But its sheer profligacy undermines the message, and its mediocrity guarantees this lavish, soggy retread of futuristic Australian action classic THE ROAD WARRIOR a place in the ranks of forgotten

extravaganzas.

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  • Released: 1995
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: Thematically modest but logistically ambitious, this seagoing science-fiction adventure was originally envisioned as a Roger Corman-produced quickie. The thrifty mogul demurred, concerned about the budget; the film eventually cost $175 million. Is the mone… (more)

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