Waterworld Blu-ray review

The flop that wasn't, Kevin Costner vehicle Waterworld gets a tepid high definition upgrade...

If you’re arrived here in search of another name to add to the list of Waterworld detractors, then it’s probably best I disappoint you right now. I like Waterworld. Always did, and continue to do so. It’s no classic, it’s horribly derivative of the Mad Max saga at times, but I always warmed to the sheer scale of it.

In the 15+ years since it’s been made, much of the work that was put in front of the camera when Waterworld was being shot has been delegated to a computer, and it lends the film a surprisingly old-fashioned, but quite warm style. There really are people falling off boats, the waves were real, the film’s shoot really was hellish, and in the middle of it all, Kevin Reynolds managed to shape a flawed but enjoyable action adventure.

It stars, of course, Kevin Costner in the lead role as the nameless Mariner, leading the search for dry land. He has silly things behind his ears that are supposed to be gills, and he certainly knows his way around the ocean. That’s why he’s pissing in a bucket when we first meet him, although thanks to a contraption straight out of The Goonies, he manages to turn that into drinking water. He’s a moody man, and that allows Dennis Hopper as the head of the smokers to basically bring in a not dissimilar performance to the one he gave in Speed a couple of years earlier. Hopper, inevitably, grabs whatever screen time he’s given with glee.

It’s a long, meandering film, with some spectacular sequences breaking up a fair amount of waffle. And it was good fun to sit through it again.

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Always regarded as a flop by many, Waterworld‘s greatest achievement was perhaps turning a profit of what was once the highest budget for any motion picture ever (at least until James Cameron regained the title with Titanic a few years later). But it’s also held up reasonably well.

That said, this Blu-ray does it no favours. Firstly, it’s bereft of extra features, which is a real disappointment. If ever there was a film crying out for retrospective background material on just how troublesome the film was to make, this was it. We got more in a half hour interview with director Kevin Reynolds here than Universal put on this disc, and with time now behind all of the parties involved, perhaps the depth of the Waterworld production story could now have been told?

Staggeringly, it didn’t offer the extended cut of the film either, which has been released on DVD in the States. That cut didn’t make the US Blu-ray either, which this is a straight copy of, given the FBI warning at the start. Why is anyone’s guess, but that makes this a poor excuse for a catalogue DVD. The only extra feature you get is the trailer, too.

The picture and sound aren’t bad, to be fair, although hardly cutting edge reference quality. But we’d trade off the longer, reportedly more interesting cut of the film on import over the modest high-def upgrade this disc offers. Hopefully, for those of us who still like the film, a more definitive Blu-ray is somewhere in the future.

The Film:

3 stars
The Disc: Waterworld is out now on Blu-ray and available from the Den Of Geek store.


3 out of 5