WATERWORLD - Blu-ray review

This is "Mad Max" on the high seas and it is a true thrill ride.


Sometimes, I wonder if I am the biggest fan of "Waterworld." Nobody seems to appreciate this film as much as I do. It puzzles me. This film has it all, loud explosions, cool post-apocalyptic sets, Kevin Costner with gills, Dennis Hopper with funny lines and Jeanne Tripplehorn. The list goes on. Okay, so maybe you have to check your brain at the door and just sit back and allow yourself to be entertained and not think too much into what you are watching, but I feel "Waterworld" is just pure entertainment. So many people regard the "Mad Max" series as being so wonderful. This is "Mad Max" on the high seas, but with more action, better effects and just flat out more fun. "Waterworld" is a perfect example of a summer popcorn movie. Still, why am I the only person that loves it so?

Yes, Kevin Costner went through directors like, errr, water. The film was bloated and well overbudget. There were reshoots and supposedly the film's star was a total pain in the arse to work with. It was hoakey and had enough plot holes to sink it deep to the bottoms of the watery world it presents. Some of the humor hits way below the belt, such as the Exxon Valdez and the horrible accents by the watery drifters. There is so much in this film that defies logic and makes absolutely no sense, but dammit, it is fun! How can you not enjoy Dennis Hopper's ride through the ‘Deez on a car that no longer has rubber and relies more on manpower than horsepower to drive through the oddly floating tanker. Speaking of the Exxon Valdez, how is it again that it is sea worthy?

The Mariner's boat is one of the cleverest vehicles to ever be presented on a film. It has really nifty gadgets and is a character on its own right. Sure, there are a lot of physics it seems to ignore and I'm not sure it should even be seaworthy, but I really enjoy watching the little devices strewn about by Kevin Costner's character to allow him to escape the gas-powered smokers and fight off pirates who want to take his ski boots and bits and pieces of magazine and other items of dry land that have so much value. Of course, since he is a mutant and can scoop up all the dirt he ever needs, the Mariner has the means to be the richest person afloat. He can collect artifacts and reminders of a world that is long forgotten and only rumored to exist by the ragtag survivors of a world destroyed by floods. Why is it that those on the floating atolls find dirt to be of so much value?

Forget the occasionally horrid dialogue, plot holes you can sail a tanker through and general bout of coincidence and disbelievability that is needed to make full sense of this film and appreciate the world it has created. There are certain movies out there that were intended to dig your hands into over-buttered popcorn that has more fat than a McDonald's Big Mac. There are certain movies that are best enjoyed with your teeth glued together by Ju-Ju Fruit. There are movies that demand to be watched with a 512 ounce soda that comes with free refills (who can go through even one of those humungous sodas?) and are best watched with friends who like to laugh and enjoy unnecessary violence, explosions and bad one-liners. "Waterworld" is one of these films.

I love this movie. I find it terribly fun and horribly entertaining. I've watched it again and again and saw it twice in theaters. I don't feel it is bad. I feel it is intended to tell a wondrous story that is beyond belief. It is meant to be different from all of those films that take themselves so seriously. It is an apocalypse on the water; Mad Max with sails. "Waterworld" is a fun, fun film that is overlooked by snobs who stick their nose up at good silly fun. Remember when running around your living room in circles was exciting and mom would yell at you for doing so? Well, I look at "Waterworld" like that. I enjoy the hell out of it and everybody keeps yelling at me and telling me to stop! See that score of a 10 for Film Value? That is my protest.


The new Blu-ray transfer is exactly the same transfer as the former VC-1 encoded HD-DVD release. For the first time while watching "Waterworld" I started to realize that the film is starting to look dated and "Waterworld" is just not as sharp looking as I try to think it is. The film has its grainy moments and times when the colors are a little washed out. There was a time when I showed off my LaserDisc of "Waterworld," but now it will have to remain my guilty pleasure as the film is no longer a testament to technology. Detail is still very good throughout most of the film and there are scenes with bright and vivid colors, but I have to admit that "Waterworld" is uneven in its splendor. The shiny and shimmering surface of the ocean still looks magnificent for this 1.85:1 framed picture. The source materials used for "Waterworld" where clean and I didn't see many flaws in the production.


"Waterworld" gets a small technological bump with a new English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack. This is a bump over the previous Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mix on paper, but in practice "Waterworld" sounds only marginal better than its last incarnation in high definition. From early on there is some heavy bass and the .1 LFE channel is used throughout the film. The first encounter with the Smokers sounds incredible as the atoll is assaulted and the Mariner makes his big escape. Sound emanates from every channel and the rears come alive with the sound of spent shell casings and water splashing. Dialogue is clear and very intelligible, even when the poorly done accent is used by Costner and others. I was happy to see Universal return to DTS sound for "Waterworld" as the old DTS DVD sounded great and while "Waterworld" does look a little dated in its visuals in the modern age, the hectic soundtrack holds up very nicely. Seven foreign language DTS 5.1 mixes are included as well as over a dozen subtitle tracks.


"Waterworld" is a film that is just crying for a little love and better treatment when it comes to supplemental materials. Where is the longer ABC network version of the film with forty additional minutes? Where are the deleted scenes? Where is the retrospective documentary on how difficult this film was to create and the problems they had with the production? Granted, I may very well be the biggest fan of "Waterworld" and have always clamored for more about the film I love, but have never been given any satisfaction. The new Blu-ray release offers access to the BD-Live Center via a "What's New" menu selection for Profile 2.0 capable players. There is an "Extras" menu and this includes the My Scenes bookmarking and the real treat for this release: the film's Theatrical Trailer. After all these years, we are treated to the trailer and while that is better than nothing, it is still hardly anything to satisfy my needs for more "Waterworld."


There are hours of additional footage available for "Waterworld" and the Sci-Fi channel has aired a fairly decent version of the longer cut. Plenty of deleted scenes are known to exist and I'm sure footage is available for a good making-of documentary. "Waterworld" does have its fans and has achieved some cult status. However, Universal has yet to give the film a proper release and simply throws out an older mastering of the theatrical version and calls it a day. I find this disappointing and I continue to hope that one day my love and support of this little misunderstood film will be rewarded. Maybe I'm delusional. I still love this movie and think it is an amazing popcorn fan, but do realize there are humongous plot holes and other flaws with the film, but I appreciate it for its entertainment value. This is "Mad Max" on the high seas and it is a true thrill ride. The new Blu-ray release includes a trailer, but is otherwise identical to the former HD-DVD release.


Film Value