What does that mean, you ask? It’s that film that you love that the rest of the world hates. I’m not talking about a guilty pleasure that you accept is in some sense deeply flawed, but love anyway. No, I’m interested in a film that you truly consider great and you don’t understand why it isn’t hailed as a classic.
Unsurprisingly, Waterworld is my Waterworld.
I’ll readily concede that this film is imperfect, but all films are imperfect. The fact that there’s simply not enough water on the planet to submerge Denver is a valid point. The slim likelihood that humanity could survive on a collection of poorly constructed rafts is also a good point. But, in the words of David Letterman, you buy the premise, you buy the bit. All apocalyptic tales are hard to swallow, but they aren’t usually quite so exciting or so visually interesting.
Costner plays an unnamed Mariner who plies the waves in the coolest movie ship ever, a lovingly fitted trimaran with a seemingly endless collection of nifty bits and bobs. He narrowly escapes an attack by a group of Smokers, raiders who use gasoline-powered ships and like to blow stuff up. They are led by a not-as-over-the-top-as-he-might-have-played-it Dennis Hopper as the Deacon. In the process the Mariner takes on a couple of passengers, Helen (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and her little charge, Enola (Tina Majorino). Enola has a mysterious tattoo on her back, which is purported to be the directions to Dryland, the mythical place where men can walk on solid ground.
The action scenes are well choreographed, the mechanics of a chase on water are unique enough to make it more interesting than a simple car chase, and the Mariner is portrayed as a bad-ass, but not a supernatural one. Well, except for the gills.
I even enjoy the characters-stuck-on-a-boat scenes during which Enola slowly charms the Mariner and builds a bond with him that pays off in the slam-bang sequence in the third act, wherein he singlehandedly rescues her from the Deacon’s oil tanker lair.
The film does show its age now, what with some less than special effects, and, perhaps more interestingly, the fact that this was the height of the 90s aesthetic that required the hero to be taciturn, the the villain to be the more fun screen presence. But, nonetheless, I still find it thoroughly enjoyable.
Now, Kevin Costner was in Waterworld with Jeanne Tripplehorn, who was in…