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Movie Renter's Guide - November, 2009

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"Waterworld" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

movie-november-2009-waterworld

Synopsis

In a far-off future, the Earth’s polar icecaps have melted covering the entire planet with water. Human survivors live on boats and in small communities on the few remaining atolls. The Mariner (Costner) is a drifter living alone on his catamaran scavenging for supplies and food. He sails into an atoll and is quickly discovered to be a mutant with gills and webbed feet. He has evolved to adapt to the “Waterworld.” When the atoll is attacked by “Smokers”, jet ski riding mercenaries, he escapes with a woman, Helen (Tripplehorn) and a young girl, Enola (Majorino). As it turns out, the little girls back is tattooed with a map to the mythical “Dryland.” This makes her a target of the Smokers led by The Deacon (Hopper). After a series of encounters, the girl is captured and The Mariner’s boat is destroyed. The Mariner manages to board The Deacon’s ship, the Exxon Valdez and rescues Enola. After a fortunate rescue by Gregor (Jeter), our heroes manage to decipher the map and they eventually find Dryland. The Mariner feels the pull of the sea however, decides that’s where he belongs, and sails off into the sunset.

Specifications

  • Universal Pictures
  • 1995, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hrs 16 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring Kevin Costner, Dennis Hopper, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Tina Majorino, Michael Jeter
  • Directed by Kevin Reynolds and Kevin Costner
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Mild with brief nudity
  • Language:Yes

Commentary

This is another film I have always been curious about so I was glad to finally see it in this recent Blu-ray release. The hype surrounding its release in 1995 was extensive due to its immense cost (twice the original budget) and publicized friction between Costner and director Reynolds. It was a flop at the box office but it has enjoyed great success in its various home video releases.

I didn’t find it as bad as some would have you believe. It’s a pretty good action flick as there is rarely a slow moment. Dennis Hopper is truly funny as the over-the-top badguy. Costner delivers his typical deadpan performance but it fits the role well. Jeanne Tripplehorn is a far better actress than this film deserves but she does a fine job. It really wasn’t any worse or any better than other post-apocalypse movies I’ve seen. It’s well worth a rental but I wouldn’t add it to my library.

Technical

This new transfer is fairly typical for a catalog release. It doesn’t measure up to the latest films in terms of sharpness and cleanliness but it is a faithful representation of the original. Film grain is preserved nicely though there is added edge enhancement which I thought unnecessary. Color is highly saturated and sometimes looks pasty and flat, especially in flesh tones. The actors do look like they have spent a lot of time in the sun which is certainly realistic. Contrast levels are consistent with good shadow detail and fairly deep blacks. Dirt is evident on the film which detracts a bit. I wouldn’t say this transfer was done with loving care but I have seen worse.

Audio is above-average for a 14-year old film. The surround channels are used extensively to create the sounds of the sea and of course in all action scenes. The environment is very realistic due to the excellent sound mix. The subwoofer channel is used reasonably well but without the super-low extension of a more modern film. The musical score is composed by James Newton Howard and is a typical Hollywood blockbuster style with a full orchestra and lots of percussion effects.

Extras

There are no on-disc features save for a trailer. The box advertises BD-Live content but doesn’t specify what that is. I did not view this during my review.