Kevin Costner's epic sci-fi sea adventure Waterworld splish-splashes its way into the post-apocalyptic future with a deluxe 3-Disc Limited Edition set from Arrow video! While not a complete dud when it released in 1995, the film's grown a cult following that would make the Deacon of the Deez proud and this set is a treat for those fans. Boasting a fresh new 4K restoration, this fishy flick has never looked or sounded better while giving fans a wake of impressive bonus features to swim through. If you love Waterworld you can find Dry Land with this impressive Blu-ray release. Highly Recommended.
Kevin Costner is the evolutionary freak known only as Mariner - a man with functional gills that allow him to breathe underwater. Since the earth was covered by water after the polar ice caps melted, that's a particularly useful trait! After picking up two female survivors - Helen (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and her adopted daughter Enola (Tina Majorino), Mariner is forced to flee from the diabolical Deacon (Dennis Hopper) and his tanker-full of marauders in the search for the mythical Dry Land.
Dubbed "Fishtar" by snarky critics and Hollywood hawks when it first released, Kevin Costner and Kevin Reynolds' massive post-apocalyptic sci-fi epic Waterworld is one of the most impressive productions ever attempted - even if it failed to light up the domestic box office. I feel like the carcass of this film has been fairly well fileted over the last 24 years, so I'll say that I was a fan when I saw this film in the theater on my 13th birthday and I remain a fan to this day.
When I was a kid, it as a quickly-established tradition that we'd go to the movies to celebrate. It didn't matter what movie, I got to pick it and we'd go. I eagerly chose Waterworld despite the bad press and meh reviews, I wanted to see it. That boat looked cool and I was a huge fan of Costner's Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Waterworld wasn't just another fun flick to watch on my birthday - I also experienced my first real migraine headache during the movie!
Through thumping temples and blinding pain, I enjoyed the hell out of Waterworld. It was a sight to see and a sonic delight in my local theater's newly renovated surround sound system! Sure it was cheesy. Yeah, its plot and themes were a little lunkheaded, and even I admit that Costner looked more than a little sleepy delivering an emotionally flat performance - but I loved it all the same. It wasn't long before I picked up the frustrating but still fun as hell Super Nintendo game. I have great memories of frequently playing a local Meijer store's demo Nintendo Virtual Boy system that had that red-lined 3-D game that burned leftover images into my retinas!
For the longest time, I felt like I had to be a bit of an apologist in my admiration for Waterworld. As the most expensive movie ever made at the time - until Titanic - it was known for its numerous production bloat issues, failures, and the constant onset rewrites and ultimately breaking the working friendship between Costner and director Kevin Reynolds.
I feel like the haters forget or can't be bothered to actually stop and look at the movie and see what it achieved. Look at the costumes! Look at the incredible set design! Look at all of the stunt work with Costner leaping and flying all over his boat - let alone the Atoll attack scene and practical in-camera visual effects that were created for this movie! Sure, the movie may not be great, but I still stand by it as an incredible visual accomplishment. Hell, Dennis Hopper's wild and fun performance is worth the price of admission alone!
Shot on the open water and in an era where computer effects weren't financially viable or entirely convincing - the film had to go for broke and just do it! You don't often see movies just go for it and actually make a movie any more leaving the majority of the creative visuals to be handled and manipulated by computers. This film looks and feels like it actually exists - as if you could reach out and touch it. So it's on that level that I admire Waterworld.
24 years after I battled through some of the most intense pain I'd yet experienced in my life, I remain a devoted fan of Waterworld and all of its cornball delights. Every year I dust off my old laserdisc and give it a spin. At this point, the film is comfort food and just puts me in a good mood every time I see it. Now with all three cuts of the film - you get to enjoy even more of the movie! While the Extended TV Cut and the even longer Ulysses Cut feature some great missing bits, a lot of the new stuff are mere scene extensions that only serve to throw off the pace. My preferred cut is still the Theatrical release, it's leaner and knows when to move along - even if it misses out on some of the mythology building.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Arrow Video gives dry landers the mother of all Waterworld Limited Edition Blu-ray sets with a 3-disc set. Pressed onto three BD-50 discs, the discs are housed in a clear 3-disc case with reversible artwork, lobby cards, double-sided foldout poster, with a booklet containing stills, press materials, and a number of essays and interviews all contained in a hard card slipcover. Disc One contains the 135-minute Theatrical Cut and all bonus features. Disc Two contains the 176-minute Extended TV Cut with Disc Three containing the 178-minute Ulysses Cut. All three discs load to animated main menus with traditional navigation options.
Boasting a brand new 1080p 1.85:1 transfer sourced from a 4K Restoration approved by Director of Photography Dean Semler, this transfer easily sinks the previous Universal transfer into the depths. From that iconic opening Universal Logo segue to the final shots, this is a damn beautiful looking image. Color, clarity, depth - all offer massive improvements while extinguishing troublesome speckling and print wear without any of the crunchy edge enhancement or banding.
You'll notice right away that this transfer isn't nearly as bright as the previous release which is a good thing as white blooming (especially along the horizon) is brought under control and the image features more natural inky black levels. Depth is very impressive now as the image offers up a terrific sense of dimensionality. Color saturation is another notable improvement across the board. Blues are particularly bold and much more vivid and vibrant. Within seconds of the film starting, I said: "That is really blue!" - but not in a bad way - just shockingly noticeable! All of the other primaries - reds and yellows - are strong and just as vivid. Greens also are much stronger giving some of the surfaces of the boats, the Atoll and the Deez a mildewed moldy look. Flesh tones are much healthier throughout with much of the cast sporting nice tans - and quite a few sunburns!
Details are sharper and clearer than ever. I love big costume and set productions like this and you can now see so many fine details in facial features, makeup, clothing, and the incredible set design. Film grain is visible but stable throughout without any sign of smoothing or reduction giving the image a splendid film-like appearance.
The Extended TV Cut and Ulysses Cut extra footage isn't quite on the same level as the fully finished Theatrical Cut. While they are in very good condition without damage or being SD inserts, they're a bit softer and some of the effects shots aren't complete. They still look very good, but there is an ever so slight quality difference. Overall all three cuts look far and away better than most folks would ever expect for a film with a reputation like Waterworld.
After doing some quick disc flipping between this new Limited Edition from Arrow and the old disc from Universal, it does sound like the English DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix has been given a little bit of a once over. It's not that dramatic of an improvement but during the big action sequences it felt like the sounds of gunfire and numerous explosions had a bit more kick to them. Dialogue remains clear and there is plenty of great surround activity and the ear-worm-inducing James Newton Howard score sounds fantastic. After basically watching this movie three times in as many days I can't get that damn theme song outta my head!
Also included on all discs is a new DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo track that is very good - but not as impactful as the 5.1. It's a strong track but with every sound element being pushed to the front/center key bits and pieces lose a bit of the thunder they once enjoyed. It's a fine track but it isn't as dynamic.
For the TV Cut and Ulysses Cut - the extra footage does experience a slight bit of quality loss as these elements weren't finished to the same quality. Sound effects are still strong and dialogue is clear, but James Newton Howards' score doesn't quite sound as strong and you can hear where it's been spliced in to cover the extensions - it's most noticeable during the Atoll attack and other action-heavy scene extensions. The stereo tracks for these extended versions cover up that side effect because it's more front-loaded as it's more noticeable in 5.1 surround. All around, all three cuts enjoy great audio presentations.
Stuffed to the gills with bonus features, Arrow Video gives Waterworld the truly limited edition treatment. The new documentary Maelstrom is a fantastic watch. I'm including the TV Cut and Ulysses Cut as bonus features because they are exclusive to this Limited Edition release.
Contains the great essay In Search of Dry Land by David J. Moore as well as an older interview with Kevin Costner and an article from American Cinematographer in addition to a look at all of the marketing and tie-in materials for the film like toys and video games.
Waterworld is the definition of a guilty pleasure flick. Fish-slapped with a less than savory reputation upon initial release, the film has grown into a fan favorite over the past 24 years. With its impressive action set pieces and incredible production design and costuming, there is a lot to see and love with this movie. Arrow Video delivers Waterworld to Dry Land with a stellar 3-Disc Limited Edition release. You get all three cuts of the film with excellent A/V presentations from a fresh and beautifully detailed new 4K restoration effort along with a terrific collection of new and some archival bonus features. If you're a lover of this flick it's time to turn in that old Universal Disc and upgrade - this is likely the best it's going to get and this set really is the complete Waterworld package. Highly Recommended.