Waterworld Review: More than just “‘Mad Max’ on the Ocean”? | Lighttrain

Aargh! Oh, where are my manners; welcome aboard the Train, lad. Tonight’s review is a blast to the 90s for Waterworld. This film is infamous for its sour reputation, since its release even up to this day. A summary of the events was that the movie was quite ambitious and, at the time, was the most expensive film produced. That burden was on the shoulders of Universal Pictures, who suffered another blow when minimal promotion paved way for poor box office returnings. Despite these things, it initially turned in a lukewarm response but more recently some people have said that they think Waterworld is rather the quality adventure flick and deserves reappraisal. Are they right, or is the blockbuster as hollow on the inside as it’s been wrapped up to be? Let’s get this show on the road!

In the future, the polar ice caps have melted, covering up all dry land. To adapt, massive marketplaces are established, warlords ravage the seas, and lone drifters float along the wide waters on the daily. One drifter, the titular Mariner, happens apon a young girl. But not just an ordinary child, as she may have a tattooed map to a presumed island. The Mariner settles on travelling there with the girl as a reference as well as her valet. Will they escape the treachery of the feared Smokers? Does this dry land exist at all?

My biggest problem with Waterworld is entirely rooted in the performances. It’s not even a couple duds here and there, it’s practically the whole cast. Kevin Costner as the Mariner is remarkably drab; his character is a human with fish gills, and he was still uninteresting. He’s also not very likeable throughout the film, and I found it more odd that he never reformed of apologized or anything. Dennis Hopper is another talented actor, just coming off the brief but effective role of Clifford Worley in True Romance a year prior. The wasted potential walloped in yet a second blow, this time around serving up an over the top and menacingly bankrupt villain. There’s nothing terrible enough to highlight from the rest of the cast, but they are far from a decent acting job, often coming off just annoying or bland.

For all it’s humorous pratfalls there, I must admit that the production value and effects are impressive and pleasant to watch. Now, there were moments when the CGI was a little jarring, although the good heavily outweighs the flops. The action is fair enough, and I did feel like I was flung into this bath bomb apoctolyptia, which is always a plus. And for what it is, an escapist, kind of absurd sci fi popcorn feast of the senses, it will satisfy the target audience.

Ever heard of the phrase “I like waffles and sauerkraut, but I hate them together” ? Probably not, because I just made it up on the spot. However, that phrase does match well with this film. In the end, the clash of both the preposterous ambition behind the sets and the silly Hollywood tackiness blunder Waterworld into quite the laughing stock. I respect the effort, but it ultimately blew up in their faces. The movie, in addition, has patches of rocky road that render the fast-paced action slow to a tiresome yield.

Criticisms and nitpicks aside, I wholeheartedly would agree that this flick doesn’t deserve a reputation as stained as it is. It’s all just a simple and digestible Mad Max wannabe with great ambitions, convincing set pieces, and maybe a bit too much B-movie corn. They definitely could’ve turned out a better script, a more threatening antagonist, and actual characters we indeed root for. It’s not a movie I regret or would mind viewing again, but the combined flaws are up to a motley misfire.

RATING: 6.5/10 “Opinions will Vary”

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3 thoughts on “Waterworld Review: More than just “‘Mad Max’ on the Ocean”? | Lighttrain

  1. I’ve seen Waterworld a couple of times. It is a wet Road Warrior, basically. I think Costner was trying to mimic Gibson. He was just about as dull in The Postman.

    In general terms, I love Kevin Costner movies. He has a range from sappy nice guy (Message in a Bottle & Dragonfly) to warped killer (3000 Miles to Graceland) and everything in between. I have a friend that can’t stand him. He said Costner movies always put him to sleep because of their length.

    He can’t do accents, tho. He walked through Robin Hood with an American accent, not even attempting any kind of UK flair.

    Liked by 2 people

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