Waterworld (1995)

Rating: **
Review Date: 5/20/12
Cast: Kevin Costner, Dennis Hopper

The disastrous big budget science fiction spectacle that sank Kevin Costner's career and made him a liability in the film industry. And yes, it's remarkably bad. In the future, the polar ice caps have melted, leaving most, if not all of the planet underwater. What few humans remain survive on small, remote floating communities, and the entire race is on the brink of extinction. Myths and legends speak of a mystical place known as "dry land", and a young girl has a cryptic tattoo on her back that might lead the way. Unfortunately, a band of marauders led by Dennis Hopper discovers the girl's secret and they decide to take her by force. As luck would have it, a wandering stranger known as "The Mariner" (Kevin Costner) happens to show up and reluctantly saves the girl and her mother from certain death. However, he's not quite the heroic type and doesn't have a friendly bone in his body, so their situation hasn't really improved much. The entire middle hour of the film revolves around Costner slowly, tediously, and painfully bonding with his newfound friends and ultimately leading them to safety.

It's really unfortunate to watch a film like this self destruct before your eyes, because it has some neat ideas and some impressive visual effects. But the writing is pretentious and cliché, the characters are unpleasant, and the acting is downright awful. Costner's delivery is decent enough, but his character is so barbaric and unlikable that you can't sympathize or relate to him. And since he's in almost every shot, that's a lot to put up with. An orange-tinted Dennis Hopper is an over-the-top villain on a mad power trip, and he comes across as a laughable caricature. The film desperately wants to be "The Road Warrior" (1981) on water, but it spends too much time on character development and makes the fatal mistake of assuming that the film can survive on charisma and star power alone. You can definitely tell a lot of money was spent on the film and it looks great, but it fails to be entertaining and is a serious chore to sit through.