‘Waterworld’ is not a good movie, but I can’t stop watching it


1995 witnessed many things: the triumphant return of Batman, the trial of OJ Simpson, the liberation of Toy storyand the end of the Bosnian civil war. He also saw the launch of Kevin CostnerEpic of thunderous action Aquatic world, which somehow manages to contain the energy of all those things I just mentioned. The most expensive movie ever made at the time of its release, Aquatic world it also secured the dubious distinction of becoming one of the most infamous box office flops of all time.

If you’ve never seen it, and why would you have, the movie takes place on Earth in the distant future, after global warming has melted the polar caps and flooded the entire planet. Costner plays The Mariner, a homeless man who meets a young woman named Enola (Tina Majorino) with a map of the legendary Dryland tattooed on his back. The Sailor decides to help Enola and her caregiver Helen (Jeanne triplehorn) find Dryland and protect them from a gang of bloodthirsty pirates called the Smokers, one of which is Twenty in a plane. Somehow the movie manages to contain all of these elements and still finds a way to be extremely boring.

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Image via Universal Pictures

When it hit theaters 26 years ago, Aquatic world he already had a number of things against him. Its extremely troublesome production was widely reported, with several journalists criticizing the film as the worst kind of arrogance in Hollywood. Those critics were 100% right. And while that arrogance can occasionally make for a great movie (see: the entirety of James Cameronrace), Aquatic world It wasn’t one of those times. It’s a boring job with a repulsive lead actor, built entirely around said actor’s considerable ego. That said, every inch of this movie is riveting and I haven’t been able to stop watching it for the last quarter century.

To be clear, I’m not saying Aquatic world It’s a good movie, and I never will. I approach it with the same obsessive joy that I do when I look again Congo for the 80th hour. It’s a truly captivating artifact of so many broken parts that I can’t help but laugh like an idiot every time I start to think about seeing it again. There are also a handful of things in Aquatic world that really work. But I’ll start by talking about the biggest problem in the movie, which is Costner himself. Made during the height of his power as a superstar, Aquatic world It’s such an ego-driven project that I’m legitimately surprised that Costner’s face wasn’t stuck on all of the flat surfaces that appear in the movie. Each of the Smokers’ jet skis must have a vague Costner form, making vroom sounds with Costner’s voice as they traverse the ocean.

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Image via Universal Pictures

Aside from the bold distraction of his hair (the movie makes big jumps to disguise the fact that he’s balding, including having his mane incredibly flat against his head every time he comes out of the water), Costner is just an anti black hole -the charisma collapsed in the middle of the production like a wet cereal box. He starred in movies that draw on his midwestern charm from “aw shucks,” but Aquatic world He tries to turn him into a badass antihero and he becomes an irredeemable jerk. One of the first things we see him do is sell Helen and Enola to a crazy tramp, barely changing his mind in time to save them from harm. And well, I get it: the filmmakers wanted The Mariner to be a character who starts out selfish and villainous, but eventually learns to care about other people. But the movie forgets to make The Mariner really nice at any point, and despite its overall appeal, Costner never had the acting ability to pull off any nuanced acting. Consequently, The Mariner is just a fucking bastard until suddenly he’s not. And it’s hard to feel great excitement during an action scene when your hero is a deadpan bastard.

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Image via Universal Pictures

Dennis Hopperon the other hand, you just can’t help but be entertained, no matter how shitty the movie is around you. Like I said before, there are some good ideas in Aquatic world, and without a doubt the best one is to choose Hopper as the leader of a group of pirates of the end of the world worshiping oil. He lives among the wreckage of the Exxon Valdez, which was a current environmental landmark in 1995, but by 2021 he should be living in one of Jeff Bezo’s abandoned superyachts. The movie tries to get us to call Dennis Hopper “The Deacon,” but he’s only interested in being Dennis Hopper, for the benefit of all.

Hopper is obsessed with capturing Enola and using his back map to find Dryland, for some reason. I guess because living in the ocean sucks and because they are running out of oil in their tanker. In any case, Hopper and the pirates are the engineers of their own destruction, sabotaging themselves as Wile E. Coyote in almost every action sequence, up to and including the ending where Hopper dies after crashing his jet ski. against another jet ski. at several hundred nautical miles per hour because he was literally not paying attention. In another scene, Hopper turns his head too fast and his fake eye flies out of his skull and rolls across the floor, and the movie behaves like this isn’t the craziest thing ever captured on film. Yeah “Dennis Hopper spits a stick eye out of his gangrenous face” is a box Aquatic world cross out emphatically.

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Image via Universal Pictures

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Ironically, the best parts of Aquatic world They are the ones who made it such a colossal failure. First of all, it’s a cool idea! A dirty dystopian action movie on a planet covered entirely in water sounds like hell, especially when you add crazed pirates and giant mutant sharks to the mix. (The movie would only have benefited from more of these turbo sharks, to be honest.) The different ships all have an appropriate Mad max feel for them, effectively conveying the “Road Warrior On the Ocean ”that the filmmakers were looking for. The production design is excellent, creating a believable universe for the characters. The atoll built for the film is equally impressive and is the setting for the film’s signature action sequence. It is the same sequence recreated in the Aquatic world Live stunt show at Universal Studios, which opened the same year as the movie and is still running at the time of writing. By the way, the idea that children who attend a theme park in the year of our lord 2021 get so excited after seeing the stunt show that they ask their parents to rent it. Aquatic world only to have their gleeful hopes crushed when the bloated vanity project appears on screen like a dead whale is something I often think about.

Sadly, making a movie set entirely on the open sea, with the cast and crew scattered across countless boats and actual floating sets, is incredibly expensive and time-consuming. Jaws (also produced by Universal) went over 100 days over schedule, and it was just three guys sitting in a boat. Aquatic world created an entire post-apocalyptic world at sea, including several massive action sequences. Even though it was shot in a seawater enclosure, it was still basically in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, which notoriously doesn’t matter how many takes you need to do on any given day. The many production delays and ever-increasing budget were a favorite subject of entertainment journalists during its 1994 shoot, so when the finished movie came out, audiences were aware of its problems and critics were ready to go. immerse yourself in it. (In addition to going over budget by nearly $ 100 million, a stunt double was briefly lost at sea and Costner himself nearly drowned in a storm while filming a scene where he was tied to the mast of his ship.)

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Image via Universal Pictures

The critics nicknamed Aquatic world “Fishtar” and “Kevin’s Gate” and I honestly can’t be mad at them because that’s pretty smart. It’s not the worst movie ever made, but it’s definitely not a good one, and its $ 200 million price tag did Costner’s career no favors. It was like the beginning of the end for him, as he continued Aquatic world with a series of other bombastic failures like Wyatt earp Y The postman. (I actually like The postman, but that’s an article for another time). Still I am grateful Aquatic world exists, if only for the scene where a man locked in the Exxon Valdez’s tanker truck looks up from his task to see a wall of flames approaching and says “Oh thank God” just before exploding. In fact, that sums up the whole movie.

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