Costner's Literally all at Sea
"Waterworld" sounds like a name for a theme park where you go purely for fun and excitement which is in fact the best way to watch "Waterworld". The storyline may be about the future where the ice-caps have melted and the search for dry land preoccupies everyone but it has absolutely no depth. Instead "Waterworld" is a theme park ride of action and comedy, a big budget one at that which only works if you ignore the storyline and just be entertained by the various action scenes and the comedy of Dennis Hopper as a bad guy. As such technically "Waterworld" is a bad movie because the storyline ends up being pointless, the dialogue often corny and seems to go nowhere for long lengths of time. But when you accept that there is no depth or deeper meaning "Waterworld" ends up entertaining.
Sometime in the future the polar ice caps have melted leaving the world one big ocean. Those who have survived either try to live on floating fortresses or sail the seas alone looking for buried goods which they can use to barter for goods. But everyone lives in the hope that dry land will be discovered and a Mariner (Kevin Costner - The War) finds himself in the thick of the search when he takes on two passengers called Helen (Jeanne Tripplehorn - Basic Instinct) and Enola (Tina Majorino - Andre) who may have the key to discovering dry land. But with a group of bad guys lead by the evil Deacon (Dennis Hopper - Speed) also wanting to find dry land, the Mariner must protect his passengers at all costs.
The way "Waterworld" goes about setting up the story makes you think that maybe the movie will have some depth, some environmental message as it takes us to the future where the ice-caps have melted and dry land is a thing of legend. But there is no depth, none at all and what we get is basically an action story, a quest where a loner finds himself in the company of a woman and girl trying to find dry land whilst also protecting them from a bunch of bad guys called 'smokers'. Why there are bad guys boils down to a tattoo on the girls back which is supposed to be some form of cryptic map leading to dry land. But what this really means is that as the loner protects them he also bonds with both the young girl and woman making him change as a person. None of which is anything new, all of these elements have been used in various movies before and there is no new angle in "Waterworld".
So whilst we do have a storyline there is zero depth to it and "Waterworld" is a movie all about being a visual treat, which to be honest it is. From the way Kevin Costner looks as the lonesome Mariner through to the futuristic sets all of which are at sea and on to the numerous big action scenes everything is impressive. And accompanying the big action is comedy most of which comes from Dennis Hopper going purposefully over the top as big bad guy Deacon. It all works from the comedy of Deacon losing an eye through to the first time we meet the Mariner filtering his own urine because drinking water is scarce.
And to be honest the acting also works although there is not one standout performance in the whole of "Waterworld". Costner may look a bit amusing with the long hair but his action hero antics work and whilst there is a falseness to the way he bonds with his female passengers it ends up sort of in fitting with the movie. Out of his female passengers Tina Majorino as Enola ends up being the most memorable because for a young star she manages to deliver the subtle emotion of the weak dialogue, whilst to be honest Jeanne Tripplehorn as Helen ends up just going through the motions and seeming unable to deliver a single believable facial expression. But it is Dennis Hopper which steals "Waterworld" because he plays bad guy Deacon with so much over the top relish that he just has to appear and you laugh.
What this all boils down to is that "Waterworld" is a no brainer movie because you don't need to think about it to enjoy it. It is a movie all about the visual entertainment, the big action scenes, the futuristic sets and the comedy of Dennis Hopper going over the top as a bad guy. The minute you start to look for any depth to "Waterworld" is when it comes undone because it is completely devoid of any depth, any meaning or to be honest character progression.