We all know the rap about Waterworld. It was one of the most
expensive movies ever, but still turned a profit. It is like
"The Road Warrior" but not as good. It is overlong. Well, all
these things are true, and there are other problems as well,
but the movie is still marginally good. Just maybe it was worth
the cost after all.
Waterworld takes place in a future when the ice caps have melted,
making a planet a landless ocean. To their credit, mankind has
survived, in limited numbers, on man-made atolls and on various
boats and ships.
Kevin Costner is the mariner, a loner who spends all his type on
his boat, and his interaction with others is purely to trade.
Visiting an atoll to trade his dirt (more valuable than gold),
Costner meets Jeanne Tripplehorn (JTH to save keystrokes) and
buys all her supplies. He meets trouble at the colony, however,
and is discovered to a mutant, with gills behind his ears.
For some reason, he is then put in a cage and condemned to death.
Just as sentence is being passed (his cage is slowly descended
into a mudpit) a band of Smokers (described later) attack the atoll.
In the carnage that follows, JTH makes a bargain with Costner: she
will free him from his nearly-submerged cage if he takes her away
on his boat with him. They also take her adopted daughter, who has a
tattoo on her back that may be a map to dry land.
Much time is then spent developing the bonds between Costner,
JTH, and the child. At first Costner considers dumping the both
of them overboard, especially the bratty child, but gradually they
become a family unit, protected by Costner.
The Smokers are after Costner's boat, because they want to kidnap
the child in order to find dry land. The Smokers are led by
Dennis Hopper, who has apparently survived getting beheaded in
"Speed" although he has only one eye now. Hopper is the comic
relief, necessary since no one else has a sense of humor,
and has several good lines. His band of outlaws also supply
several good stunts with their willingness to perform dangerous,
often fatal maneuvers on speedboats.
The inevitable happens. Hopper kidnaps the child and torches
Costner's boat. Some guy in a helicopter, that we met at the
atoll early in the film, has good timing and rescues Costner and JTH.
The child is now on Hopper's battleship, annoying Hopper and
his sidekick with her brave prattling about how her new stepdad
will come to rescue her. The odds that Costner would get to
the battleship, find the girl alive, successfully confront the
villian, destroy the ship, and save himself and the girl are
about the same odds that a snowman would survive a Dallas summer.
But it happens.
Using the helicopter, the girl's tattoo, and some old National
Geographic maps, dry land is discovered. Even more amazing,
no one else has settled it yet. But the mariner does not want to
enjoy bliss on Eden, and returns to the sea.
The film is full of non-sequitors. How can a large group of
Smokers continue to consume cigarettes when there is no arable
land to grow tobacco? How can man develop gills in a few
hundred years when whales, seals, penguins etc haven't in millions
of years? I could go on but you get the point.
But I shouldn't be too hard on the film. The big budget delivers
good sets, stunts and explosions. I like the movie's attitude
as well: humanity finds a way to survive despite the odds.
No, it isn't as good as "The Road Warrior", but don't tape
over it just yet.
Copyright © 1995 Brian Koller