By: Corey Lack
Waterworld was a movie released back in 1995 and starred Kevin Costner as the main character known only as the Mariner. The movie had the plot of the Earth being covered in water with only the mythological “Dryland,” makeshift floating cities, and boats of all sizes keeping the surviving humans’ feet dry. Costner’s Mariner arrives in one of these cities to trade for supplies only to be exposed as a mutated human with gills and webbed feet and subsequently sentenced to death. He is saved from this fate, ironically, by an attack by marauders known as Smokers due to their addiction to tobacco and their preference for gas-powered engines over sails on their ships. The Mariner was rescued from his cage by a mother and her adopted daughter. The Mariner makes a deal with them to take them to Dryland in exchange for them freeing him from the cage. The Mariner finds that this brings more trouble than he thought it would as the Smokers are hunting the mother and daughter in order to use the tattoo on the daughter’s back to find Dryland before anyone else.
In terms of plot, I have to say that it’s surprisingly good. Ignoring the basic premise, which was really ahead of its time regarding the whole climate change debate, the movie’s plot is a unique one. There are a lot of movies, especially nowadays, about the post-apocalypse and this one is one of the few I’ve seen that has the world as we know it at the bottom of the ocean. Also, it builds the threat of the Smokers easily and it’s also easy to understand why the people would want to find Dryland, between the Smokers’ desire to strip-mine it for resources and the average person’s desire live on a place that won’t likely sink one day. The only downside of the plot is that there isn’t really much of a slow build-up. Each change in the plot tends to be rather sudden.
The action was, well, passable. They don’t exactly age well, but you could say that about most movies of the time. When nowadays people can create computer-generated beings and have them interact with actual actors, the green screens and older movie magic tricks don’t exactly hold up. That said, the action sequences are still pretty enjoyable as the audience gets to watch as the Mariner outsmarts and outfights hordes of Smokers.
It is the characters, though, that really steal the show, specifically the Mariner and the Deacon of the Smokers (played by Dennis Hopper). The Mariner’s distrust of humans is quickly established and understandable between the first interaction he has with another character to his treatment by the people of the floating community. That said, he is never overly cruel and usually seeks to the right thing, though he usually does so against his first impulse. The Deacon, though, is perhaps my favorite character of the movie. He is one of the few villains that actually made me laugh. Unlike most villains that accomplish this, however, he is not some kind of bumbling idiot. It’s clear by the end of the first attack by the Smokers that he’s actually a skilled strategist and a devious leader. He just happens to have met his match with Costner’s Mariner.
Waterworld is a movie many proclaim to be a bad one. I have to agree that it is by no means perfect, but it was a fun one to watch. If you need something to help pass the time, you could do worse than this one. I’d give it 6.5 burned trimarans out of 10.