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Waterworld

USA 1995
produced by
Kevin Costner, John Davis, Charles Gordon, Lawrence Gordon, Ilona Herzberg (executive), Andrew Licht (executive), Jeffrey A. Mueller (executive) for Gordon Company, Davis Entertainment, Licht/Mueller Film Corporation/Universal
directed by Kevin Reynolds
starring Kevin Costner, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Dennis Hopper, Tina Majorino, Chaim Jeraffi, Rick Aviles, R.D. Call, Zitto Kazann, Leonardo Cimino, Zakes Mokae, Luke Ka'ili jr, Anthony DeMasters, Willy Petrovic, Jack Kehler, Lanny Flaherty, Robert A. Silverman, Gerard Murphy, Sab Shimono, Rita Zohar, Henry Kapono Ka'aihue, Michael Jeter, August Neves, Tracy Anderson, Neil Giuntoli, Robert Joy, John Fleck, David Finnegan, Greg Goossen, William Preston, Jack Black, John Toles-Bey, Kim Coates, Ari Barak, Chris Douridas, Alexa Jago, Sean Whalen, Robert LaSardo, Lee Arenberg, Doug Spinuzza
written by Peter Rader, David Twohy, music by James Newton Howard, production design by Dennis Gassner, special effects by All Effects Company, Boss Film Studios, Hunter/Gratzner Industries, POP Film, Rhythm & Hues Studios, Stetson Visual Services, special makeup effects by The Burman Studio, digital visual effects by Cinesite (Hollywood)

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Quite a few years into the future, most, maybe all of the world has been covered in water, and humankind can only dream of fabled Dryland while spending its time in ramshackle boats, often salvaged from old shipwrecks, or hastily put together floating cities. The Mariner (Kevin Costner), a grumpy loner drifting through the sea in a comparatively advanced sailboat, it probably the best seaman out there, and most certainly the best swimmer and diver as due to some mutation he has grown gills behind his ears. He only enters cities time and again when he's in need of supplies - but with the city he's entering now, he's drawn a dud, as the locals are a bit too jealous of his boat and goods, and when they find out about his gills they arrest him and convict him to die ... when the Smokers, led by the Deacon (Dennis Hopper), a gang of feared pirates attack, and it's soon clear that the city is lost. This is when the Mariner is freed by Helen (Jeanne Tripplehorn), but only under the condition that he takes her and her foster daughter Enola (Tina Majorino) with him and takes them to Dryland. The Mariner grudgingly agrees, but once on sea, he leaves no doubt in their hearts that he actually detests their company, and he only warms up to them very slowly. And eventually he admits to them he has got no idea where Dryland actually is ...

The Deacon is furious that the Mariner, Helen and Enola have escaped, not so much because he's a brutal sadist (that too though) but because on the girl's back there's a tattoo that's said to show the location of Dryland. And so he starts one attack after the other on the Mariner's boat, but the Mariner always has a few tricks up his sleeve to overcome the odds and defeats himself and his against the Deacon and his hordes' attacks. But the tables are turned when the Mariner's wounded in one such attack and his attention thus diverted just long enough for the Deacon's men to grab the child. And now the Deacon's left with the task to make head and tails out of Enola's tattoo, while the Mariner prepares to get her back - but this time it's really one man against an army, and on the enemy's turf (a dilapitated freight ship), so the odds are more against him than ever ...

 

Upon its release, Waterworld was reviled for having eaten up a record budget and presenting the audience with nothing more than Mad Max on water, and pre-release press about a troubled production didn't help either - and thus, the movie, while not the total bomb it was soon declared to be, didn't make much of a profit. But now that the dust has cleared (and it took quite some time), one is able to see the film in a different light: Sure, the plot shows traces of Mad Max and even more of spaghetti westerns, while being very simplistic and clichée-riddled, Dennis Hopper's comicbook villain is fun to watch but a bit too over-the-top, Kevin Costner's hero is a bit too perfect when it comes to the action scenes, and in general the characters are a bit on the flat side. On the other hand though, Waterworld looks nothing short of amazing - it might have cost a fortune to shoot, but every Dollar shows, and not just in a show-off sort of way, no, the production design - steampunkish in approach with a water theme running through everything - is beautiful and highly inventive, with many of the more outlandish ideas being properly worked into the story rather than being tacked on later. Likewise the camerawork is first rate, getting the most out of the sets and even the watery locations, and one can't at all complain about the action scenes that are executed as breathtakingly as can be. In all, not a masterpiece mind you, a genre flick one can enjoy a lot if only one can see beyond the feeble story and leave all memories of the bad press about it behind.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
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directed by
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written by
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starring
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