Waterworld – The Post-Apocalyptic Movie Roundup
June 10, 2015
The Apocalypse Scenario:
Water covers the entire surface of the planet. Pollution and oil drilling caused the polar ice caps to melt and drown the earth in several hundred feet of water. Humanity survived by building small floating villages on bits of scavenged ships and other debris. Most of the characters travel on sailboats, trading food and trinkets of the old world to survive. There are myths of a fabled “dryland,” but no-one has even seen it. A villainous group called “the Smokers” kill and plunder in their endless search for oil (insert anti-capitalist cliches here). A few humans have mutated, developing webbed feet and gills to better survive in the ocean depths.
2500. While the movie gives no time reference, the production designer said “the date was 2500.” Enough time has passed since the apocalypse that no-one has ever stepped on dry land. Fishnets, fish-bones, and various maritime gear make up the costumes.
What They’ve Run Out Of:
“Nothing’s free in water world.”
Despite its infamous faults, Waterworld gives us a unique look at what would happen to civilization if there was no land. Fruit, paper, clean water, a handful of dirt; things we take for granted become priceless commodities in this aquatic wasteland. When someone dies, their body is “recycled” in a vat of muddy goo that eventually biodegrades into dirt. The film opens with Kevin Costner peeing into a cup, which he then pours into a filtering machine and takes another drink. (There’s a fitting metaphor for this film in there somewhere.)
What this Film Adds to the Post-Apocalyptic Genre:
“Mad Max on water.”
From story, to visuals, to over-the-top insane villains, Waterworld seems to be a cut and paste job of the Mad Max films. Mel Gibson’s lone antihero “Mad Max” becomes Kevin Costner’s bland “The Mariner.” Crazy biker gangs tearing across the desert wasteland in search of gasoline are now jet-ski gangs racing across the ocean in search of gasoline.
Despite borrowing heavily from Mad Max, Waterworld has some unique features and (like it or not) is iconic in its own right. So much of our experience on planet earth is tied to life-giving dirt. Waterworld gives us a glimpse at what our planet would be like without it. The ending is iconic; a green and lush refuge is a welcome relief from the harsh blue and gray of the ocean landscape.
Isaac’s Rating: “So bad its good.”
1 out of 5 Zipped Lips.
There’s potential for a great action movie here (especially in its bloated $172 million budget) but the script and acting are painfully bad. Kevin Costner tries to play an unattached, self-serving antihero which results in bored and monotone acting. The villain (Dennis Hopper) is a mad, oil-drilling fanatic so cliched you’ll swear you recognize him from the environmentally themed cartoon, Captain Planet. Between a bland Kevin Costner, an annoying 9yr old girl, a cartoonish villain, and female lead Jeanne Triplehorn hysterically trying to compensate for them, Waterworld completely flops in the character department. The real star of this epic is the Mariner’s 60ft trimaran. The crew built an incredibly complex and unique ship and its a lot of fun to see Costner swinging around on it during the action scenes.
Waterworld is goofy, poorly acted, and hopelessly cliche, but it also boasts some fun, big budget action in a unique setting. I have a blast every time I watch it, and I hope you’ll also find it “so bad its good.”
What do you think, fans? – Don’t forget to check out the other films in our Post-Apocalyptic Roundup!