A Blu-ray of Kevin ReynoldsWaterworld came out last Tuesday. It’s been 14 years since it opened and I’ve never seen it twice. I honestly don’t know if I’d even watch a free screener, much less rent or buy it. The more I think back on it the more nothing it seems — an over-produced high-concept thing that nobody really wanted to see to begin with.

Kevin Costner in Waterworld.


The story is hugely disappointing, particularly the windup over last 20 or so minutes. The only things that have lingered from my first-and-only viewing are (a) that device that converted urine to fresh drinking water, (b) Dennis Hopper‘s ridiculous one-eyed bad guy, and (c) Jeanne Tripplehorn‘s performance, which had gravity and sincerity.

I remember being shocked when I realized that the first of the two dps (I forget if it was Scott Fuller followed by Dean Semler or vice versa) had decided to shoot it in 1.85 rather than 2.39 Scope. The dominant idea had to be about visually conveying how overwhelming and absolute the sight of a world cover by water would be, and yet they decided not to use a Scope image? I read somewhere that the producers were afraid that widescreen footage of a constantly bobbing-around milieu would make audiences sick, but that strikes me as ridiculous.

I’ve written this before, but I’ve always felt a much stronger sense of the raging energy and fearsomeness of the ocean from Alfred Hitchcock‘s Lifeboat (1943), which was shot in an indoor studio tank with wind and rain machines and whatnot.

Kevin Costner, Jeanne Tripplehorn in Waterworld.