Waterworld was the butt of many jokes when I was a High School aged film fan. Everyone from The Simpsons to late-night TV took turns poking fun of the movie. But, I always thought it was a cool concept. It was a throwback to those deep concept Sci-Fi movies of the 1970s and sought to break away from the blockbuster fare. For those that still remember Waterworld, they remember all the trappings that came with it. But, why doesn’t that matter?
People love it when Big Studio Films become Bloated Bombs
It seemed like not a year went by when Entertainment Weekly wasn’t trying to blow up the Hollywood system for laying an egg. What they seemed to dwell on wasn’t the studios trying something new, but the fact they would overspend at a given time. It’s no different than seeing online fans bitch and moan about Box Office like they have any stake in it. But, it was a different time where bombs didn’t kill studios or ideas. A time before IP ruled us all.
Kevin Costner plays the Marine and he hooks up with a young woman and her girl ward that has a tattoo map leading to Dryland. Don’t worry about someone putting painful ink on a young girl, the quest for dry land is what matters. Dennis Hopper cashes a check as the villainous Deacon who sends many of his Smoker pirates after the trio. Eagle eyed trivia seekers will be able to spot Jack Black in an early role.
Waterworld years later
It’s been over 25 years and I think Waterworld has become better with age. When you realize it’s a large budget B-movie, Waterworld plays a lot better. Imagine Dennis Hopper in one of those Ray Milland roles as Old Hollywood trying to play the heavy. Then, you’ve got an up-and-comer hiding in a release that could have easily been made in any other country. Everyone looks gross, the equipment is rugged and yet it all feels fresh.
Many will bring up that we don’t see many films like Waterworld anymore. Well, that’s because CG and hedge funds have ruined unique ideas making their way to the big screen. Hell, the script for Waterworld started in 1986 and took this long to make it to screen. Honestly, it can’t quite play the way it should at feature length. But, it’s a highlight reel for the insane stunts and mutant Costner making his way through the watery world.
Does anyone remember the Waterworld game that was on The Sega Channel?
Hell, does anyone remember The Sega Channel? Waterworld was supposed to have a Sega Genesis game that cancelled for the US. However, people who owned Sega Channel got to play it for the month or two around the main film’s release. In fact, the only version of the game that reached the US Market was for the Virtual Boy. Could Waterworld be even more of a 90s relic?
As someone who still has memories of the game after watching Waterworld several times, I learned something. The film is very paint by numbers with the focus being a quest mission with little to do for the Mariner past the objective. Get to Dry Land and then what happens? We just leave Helen and the girl on top of Mount Everest with the weirdo that helped?
I feel that we’re right on the cusp of a 90s/mid 90s nostalgia revival
Waterworld will be revered before the decade ends. I promise you this. If you people can make Hackers and Party Girl develop a cult following, then why not Waterworld? For the mainstream viewer, it is a bigger spectacle film with a premise that’s easy enough to follow. I can remember from back when it was first released, some took issue with its stance on global warming and recycling. Many called it Greenpeace’s terrifying vision of the future. In 2023, it looks quaint.
That being said, these premises are ripe for rediscovery. Especially in an age where film clips drop on TikTok at random to multiple comments wanting to find out more about the film being clipped. It’s weird to see a trend emerging, but again I wouldn’t be surprised to see 18-19 year olds in a year or so trying to convince everyone that Waterworld was woke or some crap.
There is something to these Arrow Video releases that I enjoy.
Arrow Video puts such immense work into these 4K UHD limited editions. The big winner on this release is the multiple cuts of the film allowing you to see every version of the film that aired around the world. There was the US Theatrical Cut, then the TV cut and the Ulysses cut. The Ulysses is closer to what European broadcast had and gives a better look at the Mariner’s origins from the start of Waterworld.
The A/V Quality ranges across the cuts, but it generally holds up well. The main cut is where we did the screenshots and they look damn near reference quality. What I appreciate about what Arrow Video does on their restoration work is they treat lighting and flesh tone appropriately. They did back in the Blu-ray days and the consistent approach has carried over to 4K UHD and we all benefit for it.
The special features are quite similar to their prior Blu-ray release. However, the feature length Maelstrom documentary is required viewing for anyone new to Waterworld. It might be one of the best documentaries I’ve seen about a troubled production and I worry that it might get buried on this set. Still, if you want some out of the box summer viewing, check out the stellar Waterworld 4K UHD from Arrow.