A film heavily ridiculed during its original release in 1995 due to an obscene budget (of $175 million—high even by today’s standards), Waterworld received no shortage of joking and prodding at its expense. While not undeserved, the film itself was quite a mess in its chopped up state and the box office numbers later proved to reflect that. While it eventually recouped its losses with a worldwide intake of $264 million, a near $100 million profit, the film itself faded away into obscurity, only to be mentioned again as the butt of a joke.
See one of the screen’s biggest action-adventure epics like never before in WaterWorld Extended edition! One of the most talked-about movies in film history is now available in two versions: an extended cut with over 40 minutes of additional footage and the original theatrical cut – both digitally remastered for optimum picture quality. Set in the future when Earth is completely covered in water and the human race is struggling to survive, mankind’s one remaining hope for a better future is a drifter (Kevin Costner) who gets caught up in a battle between the evil Deacon (Dennis Hopper) and a child secret key to a wondrous place called “Dryland.” Featuring groundbreaking special effects, WaterWorld Extended Edition is a visually stunning, futuristic thriller beyond your wildest imagination!
I’d previously avoided this film at all costs, as it’s often been the punch line to several media-centered jokes in our family. My father enjoyed the film (for what it was, I suppose—a fair action/adventure flick with bad acting), but everyone else in my family who saw it ridiculed it to no end. So whenever he’d say that he didn’t enjoy a film that the rest of us enjoyed, we’d retort back “Well, you liked WaterWorld!” I did this for years because I’d assumed the film was the most atrocious thing ever put on film to have earned such disdain by everyone I talked to about it, so I never made an attempt to see it. With the new extended edition announced, now was the time for me to finally confirm that this movie is a giant sack of crap.
Only…well, I can’t. I honestly didn’t think it was that bad of a film. Granted I’m basing this off of viewing the three hour cut initially, so it had a much more fleshed out and developed story than the prematurely cut theatrical edition. The forty minutes really does a lot to bulk up the film and add more depth to it all, even if it is riddled with unfinished visual effects shots. Even with the three hour cut, I did find a myriad of things about it that I thought were stupid, but how this film received such a blasting when it’s dry land brethren Mad Max is a beloved cult classic, I don’t know. Granted, WaterWorld really is just a water-based version of that film, so that much I can imagine is a reason for the dislike of the film, but if that’s not the reason then…really, what is it? There’s nothing about this film that makes it any worse than any other mindless action/adventure film.
Well there is, I guess. Dennis Hopper single handling makes this film into a serious ham fest. Costner’s role is relatively subdued in nature (although he does act like a giant jerk for the first portion of the film with very little explanation) and he and Jeanne Tripplehorn and Tina Majorino make for some of the most entertaining sequences in the film. But every time Hopper gets on screen it is immediately dragged down to an incredible degree of stupid, to the point where the film switches from something serious and dramatic to something that feels like a bad version of Hook (and I say “bad version” because I liked that film, despite what others may feel about it). The inclusion of a constantly crying Jack Black as one of Hopper’s henchmen is a humorous touch, but only due to Black’s success today.
Overall I certainly don’t think this film is unwatchable; while the extended cut is apparently nothing more than the version that aired on television years ago (complete with dubbed over profanity…nice), the extra depth added to it really does help the film feel less ridiculous and rushed, if only because it adds more to the film that made the theatrical cut moderately enjoyable in the first place. While neither films are all that great, the new extended cut isn’t too bad and may be worth checking out if you’re a fan of the film. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who already despises the theatrical cut, as at three hours the new cut may be a bit more than anyone wants to sit through, but if you have the patience…well, you won’t necessarily be rewarded to a great film, just one that doesn’t quite suck as much. This one is worth a Rental.
Despite receiving an HD-DVD release (of the theatrical cut), Universal is opting to release this two-disc edition of the film on DVD only. The set itself comes in a standard two-disc amaray case with a combo matte/glossy slipcover (upon which, I just now noticed, Dennis Hopper’s eye patch is reversed. Guess they flipped the image…). Inside are the two discs with some blue washed cover art (hey at least it’s not just a mirrored surface…), although it should be noted that although the rear cover states that disc 1 is the extended and disc 2 is the theatrical, although there is no disc numbers on the art itself. In fact, with my copy at least, the theatrical cut is presented first in the set, so be sure to double check which disc you’re putting in since both have the same art. Menus are nearly identical for both discs, without much to look at or flip through.
The video for these releases are largely the same, with a decent presentation given for both cuts of the film. The extended version is a bit rougher around the edges what with the unfinished VF/X shots cropping up rather frequently, but the non-CGI portions of the film really look quite magnificent. There’s an enormous amount of grain on the entirety of the film (in particular there’s a shot of the flying machine in the air that looks like something out of Predator) that doesn’t do anyone any favors, but the sea-shot and man-made film really does look quite impressive at times. Audio for both films sport a 5.1 mix, although the extended cut is noticeably flatter, with a lot less bass mixed in. It’s also rather confusing as to why the extended version is dubbed over; I’m not an audio engineer by any means, but one would think they could just splice in the new scenes audio and retain the theatrical cuts heavier audio and dialogue, rather than create two entirely different mixes. Alternate French and Spanish 5.1 tracks are available for the theatrical version only, while English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles are available for both.
Moving onto the extras we have a “Trailer” (2:12) on the first disc and absolutely nothing else. A brand new two-disc edition with two different cuts of the film and all we get is a trailer. Oh well. Not even a piece on how a 1995 film about global warming is still relevant today or a commentary by Costner or director Kevin Reynolds is included. I guess Universal didn’t want to invest anymore money into this release than they had to.
Considering the Region 1 release has long been out of print, those looking to add this film to their collection can’t go wrong with this release. Two cuts of the film for the price of one is a decent bargain, although I’m sure some would argue that that wouldn’t apply in WaterWorld’s case. Rent It if you’re curious.
WaterWorld arrives on DVD on November 4th.