Waterworld: Arrow Video Restoration

The spongy post-apocalyptic trip that is Waterworld, Dear Readers, is NOT the belly flop you were looking for.  Dances with Waves?  Think again.  This film, warts and bruises and all, continues to arrive safely upon receptive shores with yet another new transfer which carries the same message: EVERYTHING YOU THINK YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS MOVIE IS WRONG.

"continues to arrive safely upon receptive shores with yet another new transfer which carries the same message: EVERYTHING YOU THINK YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS MOVIE IS WRONG."


Love it or hate it, Waterworld - twenty six years after it was originally released - remains afloat, resurfacing in everybody’s dystopian film catalog from time to time.  So what is it about Kevin Costner’s EXPENSIVE journey into absolute star and celebrity power that keeps it from sinking into the depths for good?

Is it the sheer B-movie goofiness of its Mad Max-On-Water rip?  Is it the fact that, deep in the 26th century when all the earth is covered in delicious H20 and the very notion of land a relic of the past, that the Exxon Valdez - or, as the bad guys call it, “the Deez” -  remains SOLID?  I mean, sure, it is an absolutely STUNNING set piece in the middle of the Mojave desert, but is that ridiculous leap in logic an oil spill too far B-minded material?

Or is it simply the notion that man can survive on siphoned piss alone?  If that’s all you get out of the movie, then you need to go do some housework instead of reading this review.  Nothing I can say will change your mind about this popcorn movie with a message of urgent concern for the planet.  NOTHING.

Still here?  Good.

Turns out, decades after its release, Waterworld is finding traction among more than just the cult movie enthusiasts like myself.  Scientists are leaning in and, with the reveal that Dryland was always meant to be Mount Everest, there seems to be some logic in the film’s attitudinal readjustment.  Turns out, the movie and its PRIMORDIAL appeal remains a fascinating lesson on fossil fuels and environmentalism.  It was preaching An Inconvenient Truth long before Al Gore turned to photo slides to educate us all about global warming.

And still, thanks to Arrow Video’s newly-minted and newly-restored release (which offers two cuts of the film, both newly restored from the original film elements), Waterworld continues to make an impact on its audience.  Why?  Because HOPE FLOATS, baby, and the VISUAL STORYTELLING here is an outta the park homerun!  Just watch the opening scene and - BINGO - you will see its appeal.Waterworld: Arrow Video Restoration

The cast - which includes Jeanne Tripplehorn (Basic Instinct), Tina Moreno (Napoleon Dynamite), and the scene-stealing Hopper cutting up in front of the camera with his “looks like shit” fake eyeball - hits their stride and, yes, this includes Costner as The Mariner, but NONE of what they did on the screen could deflate the HORRIBLE COVERAGE the film was receiving at the time of its release.  EGOS! OVER BUDGET! HURRICANE!  Everyone is getting fired!  That’s all we ever heard of Waterworld and NONE of what you saw on the screen could MUTE those voices.  

This is why the film was DEAD ON ARRIVAL when it came to 1995.  But now?  Oh, now, it is another story because those ANNOYING VOICES are, in fact, the only thing that is DEAD about this story about the last surviving nomadic tribes living on the salty seas of the earth.  With land merely a myth, it is The Mariner’s duty to live according to what he knows to be true or take a LEAP OF FAITH, take up arms against The Smokers, and assist two passengers in searching for the mythical land.

With several sobering references to Captain Hazelwood throughout its running time (no matter which version you choose to watch, Waterworld isn’t the GIGANTIC misstep you once believed it to be.  It is, in fact, one of 1990s best-known cult films thanks to its sordid production history and its ecologically-minded shenanigans as Costner, a mutant trader, and Hopper, leader of a gang of pirates, butt heads over a young girl with a map pointing to land tattooed on her back.

Written by Peter Rader and David Twohy and directed by Kevin Reynolds (who walked out when Costner took over editing duties), Waterworld is, at times, certainly ridiculous as it openly embraces its popcorn vibe, but there is an earnestness in its gears which keeps grinding away at us for attention to MORE than just what happens on the screen.  This is a movie that, for almost three decades now, has been showing us glimpses of our own future.

And still the majority of us can only point and laugh, mistaking Waterworld and its message for one BIG epic fail.  The joke it seems is on us because, as its tagline once promised, just "beyond the horizon lies the secret to a new beginning" . . . and, truly, that beginning starts with a MASSIVE reconsideration of this film.

5/5 beers

Waterworld: Arrow Video Restoration

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: Arrow Films
Available on Blu-ray
- December 3, 2019
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English SDH
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set
Region Encoding: Region-free playback

The most expensive film ever made at the time of its release, Waterworld has thrilled audiences through the years with its awe-inspiring action scenes, gargatuan maritime sets and ground-breaking special effects.  A definitive post-apocalyptic blockbuster, Waterworld stars Kevin Costner (The Untouchables) as The Mariner - a mutant trader, adrift in a dystopian future where Earth is submerged under water and humankind struggles to survive on boats and ramshackle floating cities. The Mariner becomes embroiled with the Smoker, a gang of pirates who, let by villainous leader Deacon (Dennis Hopper, Blue Velvet), are seeking Enola (Tina Moreno, Napoleon Dynamite), a girl with a map to the mythical realm of ""Dryland"" tattooed on her back.  Famous for both its epic scale and the controversy that swirled around its production, Waterworld is a key cult film of the 1990s, and an essential entry into the subgenre of ecologically-minded blockbusters. Presented here in an exclusive new restoration, in three different cuts, and with a wealth of extra material, this high-water mark of high-concept Hollywood can now be enjoyed as never before.


With an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and two separate run times, the word EPIC comes to mind when reviewing this newly-minted transfer.  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.


The original 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 stereo audio are your choices for this release.  Both are immersive and clean.



  • Feature commentary audio track with director Chris Addison

Special Features:

Fans of this feature get two cuts of the film newly restored from the original film elements by Arrow Films, options of the original 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 stereo audio to go along with the different cuts, a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Paul Shipper, and a cool roundup of supplement features.


  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the original theatrical cut
  • Maelstrom: The Odyssey of Waterworld, an all-new, feature length making-of documentary including extensive cast and crew interviews and behind the scenes footage
  • Dances With Waves, an original archival featurette capturing the film's production
  • Global Warnings, film critic Glenn Kenny explores the subgenre of ecologically themed end-of-the-world films
  • Production and promotional stills gallery
  • Visual effects stills gallery
  • Original trailer and TV spots


  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the extended European ""Ulysses"" cut, which includes previously censored shots and dialogue.

Blu-ray Rating

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

Composite Blu-ray Grade

4/5 stars

Film Details

Waterworld: Arrow Video Restoration

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some intense scenes of action violence, brief nudity and language.
135 mins
: Kevin Reynolds
Peter Rader, David Twohy
Kevin Costner, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Dennis Hopper
: Action | Adventure
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.


Waterworld: Arrow Video Restoration