Waterworld (1995)


Directed by Kevin Reynolds

Writer by Peter Rader and David Twohy

Run Time: 135 minutes

A guest review by Karl Hoegle.

I must admit that at the beginning of this stinker I was impressed; the Universal globe that denotes the studio that foisted this gem on us slowly filled with water and the land masses eventually disappeared. Kudos to the marketing genius that thought that one up. It is, unfortunately, the best part of the entire 2:15 minute snooze-fest. No clouds; I guess the entire Earth had great weather that day. (I presume the Picture was taken from surface of the Moon.)



“THE FUTURE!!!” booms a loud, authoritative voice that informs us redundantly that the polar ice caps have melted (no reason why is ever given or even wondered about). “…Covering the Earth with water”… No! I thought that if the polar ice caps melted we would all be covered in green cheese. Sigh. I hesitate to point this out, as there would be no movie otherwise, but all of my research gives a top limit of 200 feet of additional water above sea level if all of the polar ice melted, including the bulk of the ice that lies unseen under water. Ice takes up more space than water, so melted ice would actually tend to even out, if not lower the average sea level. Also, the ice there can’t melt, as the average temperatures in the Antarctic are around NEGATIVE 31 Fahrenheit in the summer.

Sooo…I guess that in the “FUTURE” water has become fluffier and takes up much, much more space than is physically possible now. I’ll suspend my disbelief for Kevin this one time, I guess. We get our first bit of action as we see some feet, hear some odd sounds, and a stream of urine fills a container. Lovely. Talk about setting the tone for the movie. The protagonist (Let’s call him the Mariner, since they don’t let us in on his name) pours this vile fluid into a Rube Goldberg device, pumps a handle a few times, and voila! fresh, drinkable water pours out the other end, although it must still be pretty damn warm… Yuck! He greedily downs this fluid, and rinses his mouth out with a bit and spits it into his lime plant, that I will call “Fred” from now on since it never gets named either. Ugh, this movie already has me gagging.


Question: If all the Mariner needs is fluid that can be filtered and drunk, why not use some of the FREAKING ocean that is all around? All that has to be done is the salt filtered out to make it potable. Urine has myriad poisons, acids, and whatnot. Sigh. There is a throwaway line in a deleted scene that has Helen ask why not use hydro, but the Mariner tells her that the seawater clogs the filters. Since the line was cut, I feel it not germane to the argument.

Anyhoo, our fish-man with no name sets his anchor and dives for the bottom, looking to loot some treasure from the watery grave of our technological society. While he is doing this, a bandit sneaks up, steals lots of his stuff including Fred’s fruit .He is about to escape when the Mariner comes up for air and eyes his unwanted guest with suspicion. They talk a bit, and just when the Mariner finds out that he has been boarded, the new guy points out that there are 2 “Smokers” on the horizon. Smokers are the nominal “bad” guys, still using eeeevil fossil fuels and mechanical conveyances whilst the “good” guys are using politically correct wind power to get around. I’d like to point out that everyone wears “Mad Max” type clothing, and is oddly filthy dirty for being on a world where you can literally take a bath by stepping wrong. The Smokers give chase, Mariner hits a cleverly placed lever, and his boat hoists sail and runs like a bat out of hell. He drives over the thief’s boat, disabling it and making him easy pickings for the Smokers who let the Mariner go.


Meet the Smokers

The Mariner sails for a bit, and then finds a floating metal island and decides to trade with them. They let him in only when they see that he has a huge jar full of dirt. They stare in awe of this bounty, and allow him entrance. Question 2; if anyone wants dirt, all that they would have to do is to put a bucket on a rope and drag it behind them. Sigh. One would think that fruit and vegetable seeds would be more valuable than mere dirt. Question 3: wouldn’t said dirt be rendered useless from residual salinity?


He trades for a bunch of items and the prize he was after; a tomato plant (complete with a pound of … you guessed it… DIRT!!!) I guess no one thought that was odd when they wrote the script, he pays for a bunch of items including a plant with a pound of dirt in it with… a pound of dirt! As he is leaving, the villagers ask him to impregnate a local girl before he goes, to help keep their gene “pool” clean- ha ha. He declines, and instead of allowing him to leave, they look behind his ears and see the reason he can stay underwater for hours at a time… gills!! This is a capitol offense, and he is tossed in a metal cage above the sewage pool they apparently keep for just such occasions. The locals wanted to kill him outright, but the local cop saves him.

We are introduced to the other main characters, the barmaid Helen and her adopted daughter Enola (Alone, spelled backwards) who, coincidentally, has a map to mythical dry land tattooed on her back. Ouch! They try to escape in a makeshift balloon with her gran-pappy, but he bungles it and flies away without them. She shifts instantly to plan B, namely seducing the Mariner (who she knows is a mutant) and use him to escape the nameless atoll with her adopted daughter. He tells her to bugger off at first, but as they are lowering him into the cess pool, he has an amazing sudden change of heart and agrees. A “pack” of Smokers attack, (sorry!) perfect bad timing for all as the barmaid easily breaks the lock with a big knife. The Mariner then gets free, grabs a machete and promptly tosses the weapon 50 yards into a bad guy about to kill the cop who tried saving his sorry ass earlier on. Debt paid in Waterworld.


The Mariner and the girls escape the atoll, and run into Dennis Hopper slumming as the main baddie named Deacon, who is so over the top with overacting that I just know he saw the script and thought “ What the hell, one last paycheck…”. After a lot of bad shooting and some really excellent music, they escape again and find open water. I really don’t see how, with a clear day and a visible horizon they should be easily spotted until they pass 4 miles or so away. The Mariner wants to toss Enola to the sharks, as she is excess baggage. Nice guy, our hero! Helen refuses to let him and offers herself to him in exchange. He declines sex for some strange reason ( second time in 1 day! ) but agrees to let Enola stay. He vacillates quite a bit in the movie, I think he may have borderline schizophrenia.


Deacon then returns to his main ship, the Exxon Valdez, complete with a picture on the wall of Cap’n Joe Hazelwood. After some more patented overacting that would frankly make Shatner jealous, they set a trap for the Mariner and his crew at a floating repair shop. Question; during the day with no stars at all to navigate, how would anyone find anything? A compass shows only magnetic north, it can’t help you find a nameless atoll or a floating repair shop, much less a non-anchored, free wheeling boat under sail. Yet the Smokers find anything and everything they want with amazing regularity. Anyhoo, Deacon surprises our stalwart group with the trap, and shoddy henchmanship allows Enola, Helen and the Mariner to escape yet again. Deacon gets upset.

In an unbelievable scene, the Mariner inflates a see through dome he must have made for this purpose and uses it to allow Helen to go underwater with him and see the sunken cities, with (I must admit) amazing special effects. I saw a nuclear sub rusting away on the sea bottom, which would tend to lend credence to a war being the cause of the ice-melt. This explains how he can get so much dirt and the odds and ends that he has festooned about his boat. When they re-emerge, (ignoring the bends as the dissolved nitrogen in their bloodstreams doesn’t kill or cripple in Waterworld) they find that Smokers have Enola in their possession, kidnapping no longer a serious offense. We now also find out how the Smokers find everyone; a pair of bloodhound sharks, trained to go after scents. Riiiiight! I wonder who trained them… Roy Scheider would be proud.


The Smokers torch the Mariner’s boat and leave, having little Enola squirming and screaming in their grasp. Mariner and Helen find what is left of the original atoll that Helen and Enola came from, and restock there. They grab weapons, provisions, and even the grand prize of a stolen smoker Jet-ski.I am sure that the good citizens of … (Well, I’ll call it Atoll-Town since it is never named) would give up all this booty just to hopefully get a bit of revenge on the Smokers. The Mariner takes the stolen Jet-ski and tracks down the Exxon Valdez by following empty plastic containers floating in the water. Did those Smokers have tapeworms to leave a trail as easy to follow as that?

The baddies think that the Mariner is one of their henchmen limping back home and allow him entrance, and he promptly kills everyone. Enola tells Deacon that the Mariner has no name so that death cannot find him. ( Note to self, in ten or so years, change name and move!). In the final showdown, ( thank goodness!) The Mariner drops a road flare that he didn’t have down a pipe and ignites the oil. There is an old man in a rowboat floating on the oils surface, and when he sees the flare (and his imminent doom) he says quietly “Oh, thank God” and everything explodes. I must admit, this scene tugged at my heartstrings for some reason. Not the explosion, that was the usual ho-hum Hollywood fare, I meant the old man. In just one line, he stole the show. I guess the fumes from that particular fuel oil aren’t toxic.

The Mariner grabs Enola and escapes, Deacon jumps in the plane that somehow survived the destruction of the world, and gives chase. Then the impossible happens, the old man (Helen’s dad from the beginning) swoops in and saves everyone in the balloon that barely was big enough in the beginning of the film for three and is now large and very roomy. Deacon crashes his Jet-ski into two others all gunning for Enola at top speed, with the moppet treading water ( Earlier we found out that she can’t swim, but the Mariner taught her ). Last question: Why does Deacon still need her? He made a copy of the map, and has it in his possession. Sigh. The Mariner rescues Enola with a bungee jump rope, and they float off, using Enola’s back map as a guide to find dry land. If this is the only dry land available, so one would assume it is Mount Everest. Our intrepid explorers find Enola’s parents dead in a Gilligan’s island type cottage and all present tell her how much her parents must have loved her, as they presumably suddenly developed mental powers.


The Mariner has to leave, dry land just isn’t for him. He makes a replacement catamaran and goes, the music swells, and we realize that this movie is in reality nothing more than an elaborate 2 hours and 15 minute chase scene. I want my 2 hours and 15 minutes back.

Things I have learned from this movie:

1.) In the future, water is much fluffier and takes up more volume.

2.) If you use tracking sharks, you can find anyone on the ocean.

3.) If there was no land masses, the wind on our world would gale at near hurricane speeds pretty much constantly. Not on Waterworld.

4.) Waterworld has zero cloud cover and little shade, but no one tans.

5.) This movie is referred to as “Fishtar” or “Kevin’s Gate” for a reason.


Karl Hoegle (June 2011)

16 comments to Waterworld (1995)

  • Thanks Karl for using your free-time on this one…ouch! 🙂

  • I have yet to even start to sit down to watch this one. I think I may wait another decade or so…

  • Ericb

    “Also, the ice there can’t melt, as the average temperatures in the Antarctic are around NEGATIVE 31 Fahrenheit in the summer”

    Just a little science nitpick. The scenario of this movie actually is impossible. There is not enough water trapped in Artic and Antarctic ice to completely submerge the continents. In fact during the “Greenhouse” world of the Mesozoic and early Cenozoic eras there were no icecaps but there was still plenty of dry land.

  • Ericb

    Sorry, the nitpick being, yes, it can get warm enough for the ice caps to completely melt.

  • Guts3d

    If you say so, but all the research I did gave some seriously cold temps in the hot months, and in the cold months it was unbelieveable. As I stated in the review, I found that there are sections of Antartica that never got above negative 31 degrees, year round. But aside from this, did you like the movie? I thought that the score was excellent, not as memorable as “Raiders of the Lost Ark” or the original “Superman” or even “Star Wars”, but it was rousing.

  • Ericb

    Well, it was warmer back in the Mesozoic. Over the history of the Earth there have been cycles of times with ice caps (called “Icehouse” worlds )and those without (Called “Greenhouse” worlds). The current ice caps are a relatively (geologically speaking) recent phenomonon.


    I saw the movie when it was first on broatcast TV. Of course it was bad but it’s wasn’t unentertaining. It was’t Ishtar or Heaven’s Gate or anything painfull to sit through.

  • Northbayteky

    Just a little nitpick of my own; don’t we have to suspend reality for many of the movies we watch that are actual entertainment? I mean, I like Bruce Willis and his Die Hard movies. But Live Free or Die Hard some amazingly unreal scenes. If we didn’t suspend reality for a few hours, we might never relax.

  • Sean Ledden

    Thanks for the fun review! I remember when this movie came out amid rumors of production troubles. Everyone predicted it would be a big bomb, and it pretty much was. I don’t think Kevin was ever again the super star he was before this project. I think I also heard rumors that his thinning hair was digitally enhanced! Regarding the nitpicking, I think it’s valid in a movie that constantly ignores reality in favor of action cliches. Good fantasy needs some grounding in reality – ironic, but true. Thanks again Karl. Dennis should give you a medal for sitting thru this one.

  • Guts3d

    I cried… a lot… But Battlefield Earth left me hollow inside. This one just gave me gas.

  • Sean Ledden

    I just hope it was helium – it’s not flammable!

  • Guts3d

    Well, the gas I usually have is quite flammable… Especially after exotic food!

  • Robert

    I remember the science gripe that stuck with me during this crapfest was the fact that all tidal action had apparently ceased. With no continents to act as impediments, shouldn’t the waves rapidly build to roughly the size of skyscrapers? But no, everywhere you look, it’s as flat as a pond. Maybe the same aliens who melted the icecaps with their super IceCapoTron also stole the moon…

  • Me

    if the ice caps melted (all the way) all the fresh water would lower the salinity of the ocean and this would stop the convection flow (heavier cold, saltier water flowing to the bottom pushing warmer, less salty water up higher resulting in the convection belts). Because the colder water isn’t being warmed and the oceans are no longer as salty, the oceans would actually begin to freeze resulting in a semi-ice age. In other words: it wouldn’t work that way.

  • Guts3d

    I still liked the music…

  • Jimmy Sanson Jr.

    I LOVE THIS MOVIE, question is, didn’t the Exxon Valdez get stripped for scrap after the “accident” in 1989?

  • Smoker

    195 Great movie 2020 Cult Classic …Back in 95 on the Black Cable Box used to watch this steady SeaDoo 2 Strokes Jet Skis ,,, fun to watch still ……………

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