Released: July 28, 1995
Budget: $175 million
US Box Office: $88 million
Global Box Office: $264 million
Director: Kevin Reynolds
Cast: Kevin Costner, Dennis Hopper, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Jack Black, Michael Jeter
Synopsis: Bands of humans live on after global warming floods the world.
Best Quote: "Nothing's free in waterworld."
Review: 3 stars
One of my motivations for creating this site was to provide a different perspective on disaster movies than most critics provide. My rationale was that traditional criteria like acting, dialog, and plausability shouldn't weigh too heavily in judging this genre. Instead, I propose alternate criteria like ambitiousness, originality, and watchability be factored in. Waterworld is a perfect example of a movie that was slammed by most critics but isn't half bad when using these disaster movie standards.
Taking place post-disaster, Waterworld does a great job of creating a dystopian future world where the icecaps have melted, continental masses are beneath the surface of the new super ocean, and dirt is more valuable than gold. The good guy is a mutant Kevin Costner who makes his own rules and can breathe underwater. The bad guys are the "smokers," who use an old tanker as a home base and ride around on smoke-spewing jet skis. If you couldn't tell from that last sentence, the envionmentalism messaging here is anything but subtle. That's ok by me though, subtlety has little place in this genre.
It's hard to explain why I take this movie's reputation as a complete flop so personally, but I'll give it a shot. The one-liners are hokey, but quotable and memorable. The premise is ridiculous, but you can't stop picturing how you would fare living in Waterworld. The ending is predictable, but you really wouldn't have it any other way. I think what it boils down to is the scope of the movie. Sure, something like The Perfect Storm can be a "good" movie, but in the end it's just about three guys on one boat. In Waterworld, the human race's fate is at stake. To borrow a line from college frat boys, disaster movies need to "go big or go home." Waterworld goes big and has a lot to offer the viewer with an open mind.