Blu-Ray Review: Waterworld

Hollywood has a long and infamous tradition of producing big budget blockbusters which bomb at the box office. Two of the most famous examples are Elaine May’s Ishtar which flopped back in 1986 and Michael Cimino’s epic financial disaster Heaven’s Gate which set the standard in 1980. Despite eventually turning a profit, Waterworld has long been considered to be a failure. Whilst admittedly under-performing in the US upon release, Kevin Reynolds’s film has been harshly criticised. This is largely due to the size of the budget and production problems, both of which spiralled out of control. In retrospect, it’s a pretty good action film.

The melting of the polar icecaps in the 21st century has resulted in water covering the Earth. Land has become a long-forgotten memory. Whilst there’s water everywhere, drinkable water becomes the main currency. Those who are left cluster together in floating communities. A loner, The Mariner (Kevin Costner), arrives at one of these atolls to trade a rare commodity (dirt). Due to his mutations he is captured by the locals. A group of pirates arrive, led by Deacon (Dennis Hopper), seeking a young girl (Tina Majorino) who has a map to a mythical dryland tattooed on her back. The Mariner manages to escape along with the girl and her guardian (Jeanne Tripplehorn) but pursuit is not far behind.

Waterworld has all the making of being a classic post-apocalyptic action movie. Owing a huge debt to Mad Max, there’s nothing especially new or fresh (especially not the water) about this Kostner vehicle. However, the sheer scale of the sets and the impressive stunt choreography gives it an authentic feel which is rare in modern cinema. It’s so refreshing to see real sets and painstakingly created live action set-pieces. Waterworld makes for entertaining viewing but it is impeded by the ongoing struggle between director and star. Whilst it’s good, it could have been so much better.

Limited Edition Special Features:


  • Three cuts of the film newly restored from original film elements by Arrow Films
  • Original 5.1 DTSHD Master Audio and 2.0 stereo audio options
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Six collector’s postcards
  • Double-sided fold-out poster
  • Limited edition 60-page perfect bound book featuring new writing on the film by David J. Moore and Daniel Griffith, and archival articles
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Paul Shipper


  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the original theatrical cut
  • Maelstrom: The Odyssey of Waterworld, an all-new, feature-length making-of documentary including extensive cast and crew interviews and behind the scenes footage
  • Dances With Waves, an original archival featurette capturing the film’s production
  • Global Warnings, film critic Glenn Kenny explores the subgenre of ecologically themed end-of-the-world films
  • Production and promotional stills gallery
  • Visual effects stills gallery
  • Original trailers and TV spots


  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the extended US TV cut, which runs over 40 minutes longer than the theatrical cut


  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the extended European “Ulysses” cut, which include previously censored shots and dialogue

Waterworld is released on Blu-Ray by Arrow Video on 21 January.

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