Waterworld(released July/95) stars Kevin Costner in his co-produced epic of life after the big warming;global warming that is.This is the newly released two disc version giving us the original theatrical version(2 hrs,15m)and a new extended directors cut(2hrs,57m).The topic here has certainly come back into vogue since the movies inital release and should be of special interest for those who philsophically lean in that direction.Pilloried at the time by critics,I have always thought either Costner wasn't living up the standards set by the critics at the time,it was bad timing or a little of both.It certainly was NOT a bad movie,but while not a great movie,it does have a nice flow,plot and grand look that deserved a much better reception in /95.We now get to see it the way it was meant to be seen.
The story is set in the future and the Earth's ice caps have melted,drowning most of the land and creating a world of water,whose remaining inhabitants live a catch-as-catch-can type of life on whatever floats.Our protagonist(Costner)called the Mariner,lives/travels on a large trimaran by himself periodically passing others in all types of sailing vessels.Clean water and earth/dirt are expensive and prized commodities in this future and as such are not something to be flaunted about foolishly as there are those that would take and kill for them like Slavers and Smokers(both pirates of a sort).Every so often one will come upon floating "cities" called Atolls at which time one can trade or barter what one has for items of neccesities.
The Mariner comes upon one of these floating round enclaves and enters it.He has dirt to offer and he is rewarded handsomely.As he boards his vessel to leave with much needed supplies the village elders ask him to inseminate one of their young girls for new breeding stock.He refuses and a scuffle ensues where upon they learn the Mariner is a mutant,one who can breath underwater as well as out of water.He is captured and put into a suspended cage.At this time the city is suddenly attacked by Smokers led by the Deacon(Dennis Hopper).The city is pummelled with machine gun fire and constantly stormed by those on jet skis.They eventually gain a foothold and succeed in taking the city while those who can,flee.The Mariner during the firefight gets free,with the help of the shopkeeper Helen(Jeanne Tripplehorn) and her feisty little charge young Enola(Tina Majorino).Enola has a strange round marking on her back which many believe to be the way to dry land.The local scientist Gregor(Michael Jeter)had spent an inordinate amount of time unsuccessfully trying to decipher the drawing,but at this point he is also feeling the Atoll in his hot air balloon.
Once free of the Atoll the Mariner and his two passengers soon are butting heads.The Mariner is a loner and resents their presence,especially the young girl who isn't afraid to talk back when she has to.At one point the Mariner even tosses her into the sea and would have left her alone except she couldn't swim.The crowning moment comes when a Smoker plane strafes the boat.As the Mariner is preparing a spear to shoot at the plane below Helen goes into action shooting the plane with a harpoon gun atop.The plane caught by the toe-line spirals in towards the boat ripping alot of the rigging apart.The plane's pilot eventually frees himself and as he flies off the Mariner gives Helen a very close hair cut.Walking away he notices that Enola has been drawing pictures on his boat again(something he had forbidden earlier on).Enola also gets a hair cut.Things start to slowly turn around and the Mariner eventually is seen teaching Enola to swim.Helen keeps asking about dry land and the Mariner finally takes her down in a make shift diving bell to see the truth about the Earth.She is shown the underwater cities and that that is where the dirt now comes from.She now believes the Mariner's idea that there is no dry land to go to anywhere.When they come back to the surface they are jumped by the Deacon and his men who take Enola prisoner and wreck the Mariners boat.
When it looks the worst for the survivors Gregor finds them in his balloon and takes them to a small grouping of boats left over from the Atoll that was attacked.From here the Mariner formulates his plan to rescue Enola from the Deacon.He locates the Deacon's large ship,an ocean going tanker partially filled with oil.The engines have not worked in years and the only way the ship can move is for the inhabitants to descend en masse to below decks,shove out long oars and row! When the Mariner boards the ship the Deacon is in the middle of a "sermon",preaching to the disgruntled masses on board.He brings Enola out as proof that he has been"shown the way" to dry land and if everyone pitches in Shangra-la will not be too far away,etc,etc.This asuages them and down below they go to row.This gives the Mariner his opportunity to confront the Deacon and rescue Enola.His method is not exactly orthodox as he throws a flare down a vent and into the bunker oil below.The ship of course erupts and chaos reigns supreme.
As the ship goes down for the last count Gregor in his balloon flies by and rescues the two from its' decks.Gregor has now learned that the markings on the girls back refer to latitudinal coordinates and he points the way to land.Sure enough they in fact do come upon dry land and upon a long deserted village except for dead bodies left behind unburied.The Mariner stays only briefly as he doesn't feel comfortable there.The film ends as he sails away alone again...naturally.
When I say epic I mean epic.Even though there is nothing but water everywhere the fimmakers really give you that sense of vastness and at the same time a subtle loneliness because of it.The cinematography is beautiful and there is a memorable scene where Costner is standing on top of the cross sail with his back to the mast and the camera pulls back to reveal a gorgeous sunset.And one can certainly appreciate the stunt work that went into the making of this movie and especially Costner's personal work in that regard.I have to give Hopper some points on his portrayal of the off-centered Deacon,but his over-the-top acting sometimes goes a little too far.Tripplehorn is great as Helen and a young Tina Majorino does a great job as the feisty little Enola.We have two versions here and for my money the extended version is THE version to watch.It changes things from the original just slightly but fills in alot of gaps missing in the first one and overall it is just that much more satisfying.I never once glanced at a clock which always tells me this is a goodmovie I'm watching.
Technically both films have been remastered beautifully and are in their a/r of 1:85:1.Other than the trailer there are really no special features to speak of,which is unfortunate.But for those who want to see this movie again for the re-evaluation it deserves,or just for the first time,this futuristic drama will certainly staisfy its' viewers.It's a good cast and it is wonderfully made;not perfect but better than what the critics orginally said about it.Recommended...enjoy.