Monday, August 16, 2010

Review: Waterworld (1995)

Directors: Kevin Reynolds, Kevin Costner
Starring: Kevin Costner, Jeannie Tripplehorn, Dennis Hopper

“…like a turd that just keeps floating.”
-Dennis Hopper about this movie (may be taken out of context...)

I have heard so much about this movie, this Waterworld. People panned it globally, but then of course there were also the chosen few who had to step up and claim, “Oh, it really isn’t that bad! People are being too harsh!” Well I can safely say I won’t be listening to any of those people again, because this movie is so bad it makes me want to drown everyone involved in it!

So it starts off with some narration:

“In the future…the polar ice caps melted, flooding the Earth with water. Those who survived…have adapted…to a new world.”

Well, gee, that was a quick run-down. What, no other explanations or back story? Why the hell even bother doing that if you’re just going to give us two sentences before you jump into the story? Imagine if Star Wars did that.  “In a galaxy far far away, stuff happened. There were aliens and they were at war.” Then cut to the first scene. Yeah, doesn’t hold up very well, does it?

Well, then we cut to our first scene, appropriately involving a man urinating into a cup and then pouring it into this weird filter-machine so that he can drink it. Yup, this science fiction epic opens with a guy drinking his own urine; I couldn’t even make that up if I tried. No doubt a fitting metaphor for the movie though. So our main character played by Kevin Costner is out on the open sea, dressed in a tattered uniform that looks like something out of…well, any other post apocalyptic film, really. He finds a bag of dirt and has to protect it from a bunch of other bandits and then he takes it to trade for supplies at a nearby town. It’s revealed that he is strangely enough, part fish…how that happened I don’t know, but at least they’re trying, I guess. Of course, like every other dime-a-dozen post-apocalyptic movie with terrible writing, the humans in the future have reduced seemingly solely to caveman-esque idiots who can’t be rational about anything, and so they sentence him to be “recycled” the next day.

Then we get some talk with a little girl who has a tattoo on her back that can supposedly map a path to “dry land” and an old guy who is watching her. She says maybe Costner can help them find it…woo, this movie is on a roll, isn't it? Goddamn, this is boring. I mean, what the hell, you couldn’t even provide us with one thing that is in any way exciting, interesting or thought provoking about this incredibly novel concept? It takes a lot of anti-talent to do that. And have you noticed that Kevin Costner is just completely ugly looking in this? I’m not asking for him to be a Casanova, just…a little bit cooler looking. He just looks like crap, as it is. It’s a terrible design.

So the old guy puts on a hat with a windmill spinning on it for no reason, and goes to talk to Costner, asking him to tell him about dry land. He doesn’t. The next day they try to kill him, but are very conveniently stopped by a bunch of other bandits attacking the fortress. They’re led by Dennis Hopper, who is bald and dressed in…well, it looks like a tuxedo with cheap carnival coins sewed on and bell bottoms; it’s just fashionably retarded. Yes, the world is now rid of any kind of coherent government, any kind of rational logic, but Dennis Hopper survives; someone kill me now. The fight scene that follows is full of all kinds of wacky stuff, ranging from cannons to machine guns to spears to WATER SPORTS VEHICLES!

Yes, you can tell these guys are the BEST water skiers Dennis Hopper could find. Such articulation, such balance, such TALENT!

Yes, the post apocalyptic world that is full of people with dirty hair, skin and clothes fighting to survive is full of jet-skis; go figure. Hopper and his motley crew destroy the whole city, the woman and her daughter with the map on her back free Kevin Costner and they try to make their escape in the midst of all the chaos around them. When Costner’s boat gets stuck, the little girl has to show him how to operate heavy machinery and open the gates to the city wider, because I guess he really couldn’t figure that out by himself or something…

Dennis Hopper gets blown up and loses an eye, but quickly recovers enough to start a new search for the girl with the map on her back, who is with her pretty young mother and Kevin Costner in a boat that has already gotten safely away. Costner says they have to kill her daughter, since the boat can’t handle too much weight anyway, and they would die either way. But instead, the mother bargains him with sex while the daughter goes below and finds out that Crayola crayons have not gone extinct in this very distant future. Costner turns down the beautiful naked woman in front of him because she was so rude to him before, and now only wants to be with him because he can get her out of the city. That’s right, you alien-fish-man-thing. You go right ahead and teach morals, you bland character, you.

Then we get…

Ahhhh! AHHHHH! Jesus, what the hell, movie? Did you really have to show us that? It’s bad enough Dennis Hopper is in this movie, but then you’ve got to go and do this shit? He doesn’t even wear it for that long, so…why even show it? And then we get to see his whole crew, and I think I just found the biggest problem with this. It’s not just the fact that this movie has no memorable dialogue, no likable characters and nothing original about it, but it’s just got no style. It’s not even a good looking movie. The costumes are bland looking and often even silly, the settings are drab and dull and nothing about it looks impressive at all. It’s like The Fifth Element except from the bargain bin; it’s just insipid.

 After a shockingly dull attack by some idiots in fighter jets and…one man planes from the 20s…Costner finds that the woman has damaged his boat while he wasn’t looking. He pins her down and cuts her hair off, and is then promptly scolded by the little girl for being mean when the mother already apologized. Great, so now we’re trying to teach the fish man morals instead of the other way around. Wonderful. He cuts the little girl’s hair too because she used too many Crayolas to color the boat against his will, and I guess the movie thinks this is important for some reason? And then we get, surprise surprise, another dull, overly long action scene! God, can’t these morons make anything exciting, just a little bit? How can they make action scenes so irrevocably dull? How is it humanly possible to make explosions and gun fights SO BORING like in this movie?

But then we get something even worse: the dreaded ‘sappy bonding moments’ scenes, where, like in every movie like this, the big tough guy finally chisels his heart out of the rock it’s encased in by having a lot of cutesy, touchy-feely moments with the innocent and childlike character. Except here it’s sugarcoated with gag-worthy hippie moralistic crap about finding yourself and being one with the Earth…UGH. This is just so worthlessly, insipidly awful that I’m not even going to spend any more time describing it. It’s like torture! Choose between a poorly done action scene and a melodramatic sequence of mushy, over-sentimental drama; it’s like choosing which one of your parents you want to murder first.

Oh, god, it's like a Hallmark card by a rejected PR guy from the lost city of Atlantis.

And wouldn’t you know it? Another droll, clumsily done action scene, this time with Dennis Hopper and pals on a boat full of dead people used like puppets...pretty elaborate set up when all they did before was shoot at them. And all they do this time is shoot at them too! Then Costner confronts the woman about the marks on the girl’s back, since it’s obvious they were after her this time. Costner says there IS no dry land, and then the woman gives one of the more hammy and over the top performances in this movie…just embarrassing really. It turns out that the remains of the Earth’s dry land have been submerged under the water for centuries, all but forgotten.  But while they’re on their whimsical journey of discovery, leaving the little girl alone, Hopper and his crew come to attack! Gee. Maybe you should have been, I don’t know, WATCHING THE SHIP, you retards. Maybe then Hopper wouldn’t have been able to kidnap the girl and take her for himself, hmmm?

On the ship, as she’s now their prisoner, Hopper comes in to talk to her, wearing some sort of patchwork baseball cap, as I guess the movie is still trying to look ‘out there,’ and then he invites the little girl to come sit on his lap and smoke cigarettes. Real role model right there, that Dennis Hopper. Real upstanding citizen. She refuses to help him, saying that Costner and the woman will come for her.

So, are they?

…I think their priorities could use some work.

After that, Costner finds some National Geographic magazines below deck…wait, what? National Geographic magazines? We’re…hundreds of years into the future and somehow National Geographic magazine has withstood the test of time, aging and…being submerged in water? I guess they must have found some kind of special indestructible, super-recyclable paper or something; I don’t know. It makes about as much sense as anything else.

So they get picked up by the old guy from the beginning of the movie on his weird flying contraption, but Costner leaves again soon after to track down the girl. And, I just have to say…it’s really, really lame to do what they do here, and have the little girl narrating how cool Costner is to one of the guards while Costner takes out all of the other guards. That’s just bad directing.

Long story short…Costner blows up the entire ship with one firecracker down the oil tank hole, yet he isn’t hurt, nor is Hopper or the little girl. He saves the little girl but Hopper keeps coming after them, shooting the flying contraption and knocking her off down into the water. Hopper and his goons are about to get her when Costner jumps and saves her, causing them all to run into one another and explode, like the Looney Tunes if they weren’t ever funny. Then our heroes travel on for a long time, judging by the amount of fade-ins and -outs, until they find dry land. This just ruins the only potentially good moral this movie had going for it, about peoples’ deluded hopes and dreams in dire situations (say, if the dry land really had been the myth Costner had thought it was). But no, they all just live happily ever after. Except for the woman and the little girl, who are sad about Kevin Costner, who leaves them to go back to the water, thus making all their vomit-worthy emotional connections throughout this damn movie completely pointless. Hooray!

This movie is wretched! The direction is cheap, the acting is mediocre, the plot has been done a million times before and it’s just boring, boring, boring and LONG AS HELL, too. I think the worst thing about this movie is just the way it expects you to really care about these characters and this situation. It sets up all of these situations where it seems like they’re trying to draw you into the characters with emotional appeals and awful pseudo-hippe-type philosophy, but then the writing is just so dull and so faceless that it’s flat out impossible to do that, and you really wonder how they ever thought any of this was compelling. It’s seriously infuriating. This movie didn’t make me care one iota about any character in it. And for a movie that focuses so much on its characters in such a desolate environment, to have a flaw this big is just unforgivable. I hate this movie, it could have been written better by any given fifth grader and I never want to see it again as long as I live! Keep your heads above the water, audience, and do not support dreck like this.