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Waterworld (1995) - 4K Blu-ray Review

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Waterworld

The last decade of the 20th Century in movies saw the pinnacle of star-powered excess-driven extravaganzas peak with Kevin Costner’s Waterworld. One of the biggest stars in the world, at the time, he could write his own ticket, dictate all terms, and will anything he wanted into existence. That was not necessarily a good thing, and after this production’s notoriously difficult shoot and subsequent lackluster box office performance, the tide shifted in respect to star demands and costs.

"it's harmless adventure but that’s hardly a compliment"


While there is no denying Costner’s legacy deservedly rests upon his talents and his tenacity, he, by all accounts, inserted himself into every facet of production, from writing to direction to release. Weather, and the challenges of water itself, ended up almost doubling the budget to 175 million dollars (unheard of in those days). Director Kevin Reynolds, falling out with Costner and his unrelenting interference, walked; composer Mark Isham was dumped; Joss Whedon called his script doctor work at the tail end of production ‘seven weeks of hell’, and Costner almost died in a stunt accident. The torturous sum of its parts would not be rewarded, come its 1995 release. {googleads}

Set in a dystopian 26th Century, we find the planet Earth seemingly completely covered in water. The last surviving humans live nomadic or small colonized lives on the rusty bones of the past, atop the unending ocean. A mysterious loner known only as the Mariner (Costner) finds himself a prisoner of a colony that houses a woman (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and a small girl (Tina Majorino) with a tattoo that is believed to show the way to the mythical Dry Land. When the colony is attacked by a technologically powerful (rusty jet skis) gang, known as ‘Smokers’, the Mariner gains his freedom in exchange for taking the two ladies with him. During their escape, the Mariner makes a bitter enemy of the Smokers’ leader, The Deacon, (Dennis Hopper), who takes it upon himself to hunt them down. The Mariner, down and out and constantly being pursued, is forced to confront what kind of man he is, and decide whether or not to save his passengers and complete their quest, or do what he always has done: survive.

This is a self-confessed (by original writers David Twohy and Peter Rader) blatant riff on Mad Max, with a lone warrior of seldom words and anarchy and oppression all around him. The differences between Mad Max and this are the larger leaps of logic we are asked to take. Over 500 years in the future we are supposed to believe that the remnants of the Exxon Valdez and fuel housed therein is still habitable and useable? That one can survive on enough water from recycled piss? Suspending disbelief is difficult with such large leaps of faith. But say we can stretch our imaginations to facilitate the set up. The characters aren’t interesting. They’re all thinly drawn clichés from a hundred better dystopian tales or fantasy tales that have come before (and now since). As a story, it's harmless adventure but that’s hardly a compliment. Its’ inconsistent logic in both plot and characterization fails it so badly an undiscerning 6-year-old would roll their eyes.Waterworld

Does it look any good? Yes, it’s got some amazing action set pieces and imaginative camera angles. Here’s where the nearly 200 million dollar budget does show its merits. Some of the effects are showing their age, however.

The actors were (and for those who still are alive ARE) the cream of the crop, but not even the Oscar winners amongst them can sell this mess. It’s just a very expensive, inoffensive background noise you might sit through on a rainy day. Not worth the pain it caused getting made.

2/5 stars

Waterworld

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Extended Cut in 1080p / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray

Home Video Distributor: Universal
Available on Blu-ray
- July 9, 2019
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Czech
Audio:
English: DTS:X; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1; French: DTS 5.1; Spanish: DTS 5.1; Japanese: DTS 5.1; Portuguese: DTS 2.0
Discs: 4K Ultra HD; Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set; BD-Live; D-Box
Region Encoding: 4K Blu-ray: Region free; 2K Blu-ray: Region free

VIDEO:

Wow. When it came out on DVD, I think I was given it as a present. Think the DVD is in mint condition somewhere, because I haven’t hurried to revisit this. I never even looked at the Blu-ray, but from what I can tell, this is a major upgrade to the bare-bones release from 2009 (The Arrow Blu-ray apparently was much better). This native scan at 2160p with HDR10 is a gorgeous looking picture. You would think, with the bulk of the movie being set on water, you wouldn’t get much depth of variation, and while HDR rarely gets moments to really pop, the juxtaposition of flesh tones, rust and ropes against the endless blues is an amazing demonstration of what this level of detail can attain. Night scenes especially impress with the inky, unfettered blacks perfectly framing the lit actors or sets. When explosions start to happen, HDR10 does make its presence known and leaves all other releases for dead. If Waterworld is a favorite of yours, then this is a must buy.

AUDIO:

A wonderfully textured and layered DTS-X 7.1 mix treats you to a thumping good time at the movies. Environmental effects are one of the best I’ve experience. The lapping waves, the rushing water, the echo of the rusted old tanker, the microphone that delivers Dennis Hopper’s monologues. It’s all so richly and accurately delivered through your speakers. Directionality is equally immersive. Dialogue for very brief moments throughout got a little soft (toward the beginning of the film) but for the most part was clear and centered.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Feature commentary audio track with director Chris Addison

Special Features:

Included on the blu-ray disc are three short featurettes that contain some behind-the-scenes footage as well as interviews and discussions pertaining to certain aspects of the film's making.

  • Hitting the Mark (04:34) - Wilson, Hathaway, and other cast and crew sit down to discuss the origins of the film and how they handled the gender switch.
  • Comedy Class (05:50) - Wilson, Hathaway, and others discuss the chemistry displayed between the two leads and what went into the development of the characters.
  • Con Artists (06:31) - The film's director, co-writers, and various cast and crew speak to what went into the film's costuming.

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 2/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 2/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

3/5 stars

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Waterworld

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some intense scenes of action violence, brief nudity and language.
Runtime:
135 mins
Director
: Kevin Reynolds
Writer:
Peter Rader, David Twohy
Cast:
Kevin Costner, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Dennis Hopper
Genre
: Action | Adventure
Tagline:
Beyond the horizon lies the secret to a new beginning.
Memorable Movie Quote: "You wanna see dry land? You really wanna see it? I'll take you there."
Theatrical Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
July 25, 1995
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
July 9, 2019.
Synopsis: In a future where the polar ice-caps have melted and Earth is almost entirely submerged, a mutated mariner fights starvation and outlaw "smokers," and reluctantly helps a woman and a young girl try to find dry land.

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Waterworld

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