This week, I went in the semi-distant future to visit Earth when all of the polar ice caps have melted. Yes, I watched the financially disastrous 1995 post-apocalyptic film:
Waterworld. This film is essentially Mad Max on the open sea. In fact, the cinematographer, Dean Semler, also shot The Road Warrior and Max Mad: Beyond Thunderdome.
Yet, the movie wasn’t as successful as its unintended (?) inspiration. The film reportedly had a final budget of $172 million in 1995 dollars (or $274,932,519.69 in 2017 dollars). While not the worst financial loss of this time, it certainly was one of the highest and it’s rumored to have taken years of the Universal Theme Park ride and the eventual Blu-Ray release to finally recoup that cost. Yikes.
Set four-hundred years after the polar ice caps melted in the 21st century (so roughly 2400 A.D.), Waterworld is a fascinating trip into a future where the world’s laziness and ignorance have consumed the planet, forcing humans to survive 24/7, 365 on the endless ocean.
To me, this film is equal parts Mad Max and Pirates of the Caribbean. It features these massive action set pieces and then has the “everyman for himself” fight for survival that Mad Max featured. Of course, neither element is done as effectively as their respective comparison, but hey, it’s a subpar action film with a cool premise.
The search for dry land was a cool approach for a film set in the far future like this. I’ve always loved post-apocalyptic films (don’t worry, I haven’t seen The Postman), and films in the same vein that deal with the fight to prevent the apocalypse (Independence Day). But this take was a refreshing approach with a concept that was topical then as much as it, unfortunately, is now.
I also enjoyed the element of the Mariner (Kevin Costner) and his mutation. The fact that he’s the only one that we had ever seen must mean that the humans have cleansed the Earth of their kind. Very Nazi-like = NOT cool.
The cast was really good as well. From small roles for Rick Aviles (Willie Lopez from Ghost), Kim Coates (Sons of Anarchy) as a delusional drifter, Michael Jeter as a crackpot scientist-type character (The Green Mile, Open Range), a young Jack Black, to leads like Costner, Jeanne Tripplehorn (The Firm), Tina Majorino (Andre), and of course the villain of the decade:
The man was the undisputed KING of over-the-top villains, from Frank Booth in Blue Velvet, Howard Payne from Speed, and the cheesiest of them all: King Koopa from Super Mario Bros.
What’s the franchise like?
The film never received a sequel, but it does still have a theme park attraction at Universal as of press time.
Where/ when did I first see it?
As a kid, I loved this movie. I remember first watching it as a rental from the Video Market in Fort Kent for one of the only times we were babysat at my Mom’s place. I remember popping this in and instead fantasizing about my really hot babysitter. Hey, I was eleven when I finally saw this, and she was only fourteen. All good in my book.
At any rate, I had to rewatch it the next day before it was due and that’s a long movie to rewatch. There were times she wondered if we should have been watching such a movie. Like when Jeanne Tripplehorn offers herself to spare Tina Majorino from harm. That scene was definitely not for kids.
Speaking of kids, is Anya-Taylor Joy hers? They look SO similar!
How does it hold up?
The film was always insane and campy, but it was also fun and touched upon some cool ideas. I like Waterworld now as much as I did as a kid. There were a few shots of shoddy CGI, but what else do you expect from a 90s film?
Cleary this is Enola (Tina Majorino). She enjoyed pissing off the Mariner so damn much that when she found dry land, she discovered a time machine and traveled back into the indeterminate past to bug another odd person: Napoleon Dynamite.
- Who drew the map on Enola’s back? Oh wait, the parents. Nevermind. Why did they let her leave?!
- How did the Smokers get fuel so far in the future?
- “Where have all the mutants goooone?”
Where can you see it?
Check out Waterworld on CanIStream.It?