A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
So here it is at last, "Waterworld," two years and $200 million in the making. In the old days in Hollywood, they used to brag about how much a movie cost. Now they apologize. There's been so much publicity about this movie's budget that a review of the story seems beside the point; I should just print the spreadsheets.
The cost controversy aside, "Waterworld" is a decent futuristic action picture with some great sets, some intriguing ideas, and a few images that will stay with me. It could have been more, it could have been better, and it could have made me care about the characters. It's one of those marginal pictures you're not unhappy to have seen, but can't quite recommend.
The movie begins with the trademark Universal globe spinning in space, and then we see the polar ice cap melting while a deep voice (not James Earl Jones for a change) sets the story in "the future," when all of the Earth is covered in water. Cut to Mariner (Kevin Costner), aboard his trimaran, a sailing vessel that looks made out of spare parts from "Mad Max." The first shot of an action hero is supposed to set the tone for a movie; remember your initial glimpses of James Bond or Batman, and compare them with "Waterworld," which shows Mariner peeing into a bottle, pouring the fluid into a home-made chemistry set, cranking a handle to process it, and then drinking it. Then he gargles, and spits on his little lime tree, so we know how he gets fresh water and vitamin C.
I would have welcomed more of those details about the global floating culture that Mariner is a part of. But like so many science fiction movies, this one bypasses the best possibilities of the genre: Instead of science and speculation, we get a lot of violent action scenes.