The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

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Announcement

Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

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Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.

--Matt

Friday, January 22, 2010

Waterworld (1995)

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When I was thinking of potential wild card posts, for some reason this one popped in my head. It has a reputation as being one of the great all time busts, but the data on imdb says the film did earn some money, just maybe not too much considering what it cost to make it. What's most fascinating is this was the Avatar of 1995 in terms of budget and hype, and it's kind of scary to think how much worse it would've been had everything been replaced with computer generated images.

Waterworld takes place well in the future, long after the polar ice caps have melted (I'm assuming the tea baggers won in that time line), and the Earth is almost completely covered in water. For Costner and the people he comes into contact with, it might as well be completely covered, because to them dry land is just a myth-- that is, until the girl from Napoleon Dynamite shows up with a tattoo on her back that may or may not be a map to dry land. Dennis Hopper and his men try to get her, and she and Jeanne Tripplehorn, who's taking care of her, rescue Costner from their townspeople so he can help them escape. I forgot to mention Costner is a mutant with gills and webbed feet, and the townspeople want to kill him for that. Anyway, a bunch of stuff happens, Hopper gets the girl, Costner saves her, and the group find dry land.

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Most movies tell me how they're going to be from the very first scene, and Waterworld, was no exception. You can infer all you need to know from that opening shot of Costner urinating. I felt it wasn't necessary to ask why, if there's a Dr. Seuss-like contraption that can convert urine into drinkable water, there isn't one for salt water too. Anyway, I loved the jet skis and water skiers attacking the ocean city, Hopper was great, and the use of actual mechanical special effects in a world today when all of that stuff would be done with computers was a breath of fresh air. I also kind of liked the Dr. Seuss quality to it all-- I mean, it would've been a lot cooler if someone was narrating it with Dr. Seuss style rhymes too, but a fella can't have everything.

Still, there was something about this that never worked for me, and when I was younger I just chalked it up to me not liking it because I thought I was above all that. Now I know why I don't like it, and I can put it into words. It's essentially a Mad Max remake on the water, only with a completely unlikeable hero. I mean, am I supposed to root for Kevin Costner's character? The guy was a complete tool bag. Mad Max was awesome, hence what was a silly post-apocalyptic film came off as awesome too. That's not my only major issue with Waterworld, the length was a problem too. If you're going to make a movie like that over two hours long, you better make it exciting. I realized after I fell asleep watching it this time that I had never seen it before without falling asleep. Still, the length would've been manageable if Costner's hero had been likable.

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I also realized that 90 percent of the movies people try to sell me as "fun" are completely stupid, including this one. "Oh Matt, it's a fun movie. Didn't you think it's a fun movie? Better than that Babylon AD movie you liked." Actually, no it isn't, it's just as dumb. When I try to sell people on Babylon AD, I don't try to make myself look good and call it "fun", I'll admit that it's dumb as all get out, and I still love it. I think we could come a long way in this country if everyone just stood up and admitted the "fun" movies they like are often dumb. "National Treasure is a dumb movie..." "Pirates of the Caribbean is a dumb movie..." "Star Wars Episode III is a dumb movie... and I'm not ashamed that I like it." There, don't you feel better?

Jeanne Tripplehorn turned in a great performance in this, despite acting opposite a dud like Costner. The film should've been rewritten to shift the focus on her struggle to get to dry land. Her character actually had some level of nuance and likability, while Costner's character was a cantankerous moron. I have to assume Tripplehorn only did this for the paycheck and exposure, because she was too good for material like that. The girl was played by the girl from Napoleon Dynamite, which was kind of weird, because she didn't really look like a child, but just a miniature version of the girl from Napoleon Dynamite. One of the interesting things about her character was this idea that she talked too much. Everyone kept telling us how she talked too much, but she really didn't. I think Costner's character, who was supposed to be the stoic silent type, had more lines than her, even in the scenes they did together. It was like having a blond and referring to her flaming red hair the whole time, when we can all see it's not red.

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Finally, this film sports the coolest product placement this side of Ski School's Miller Sharps boxes. Black Death cigarettes, which were what I smoked when I was a smoker back in the early oughts. I tried getting them recently, and couldn't find them, so now I keep a pack of Nat Sherman's for those sudden nicotine cravings. What was cool about living in Portsmouth, NH at that time was how cheap cigarettes were compared to Mass and Maine. They still are, but they've gone up. I could get Black Deaths for $5 a pack back in 2004, now I don't think you could get Camels for that much in NH. Definitely not in Maine or Mass.

Waterworld is currently available on Netflix's Watch Instantly, so if you're getting nostalgic, that's an easy way to check it out. One thing that is worth watching it for, if you haven't seen it in a while, is to see what films were like before computers took over. This was kind of a last gasp, and I have to feel if it was made today, Waterworld would've been shot primarily in front of a green screen, which would've removed even the little charm it had.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114898/

2 comments:

  1. I think it does have a few computer effects in it, like that water creature that emerges for a couple of seconds. I need to rewatch this one soon, dont remember much about it except that I didnt see its big ass budget on screen.

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  2. You're absolutely right, it does have some computer effects, the fish thing being the most prominent. What you'll notice if you haven't seen it in a while, though, is how a lot of the gadgets and Dr. Seuss-type stuff would've been done with computers today. It made the film a little more charming to me now than it did back in 1995.

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