Excess is Waterworld’s most endearing quality. It is obvious that director Kevin Reynolds took it upon himself to use the budget fully. Each set is loaded with details, typically run down and rusted from the water. For all of its ridiculousness, much of the sci-fi trappings seem to make sense, and that can be attributed to the set design.
Waterworld carries a distinct sense of humor, with a wild Dennis Hopper in the lead role of the villain Deacon. It creates a contrast however, as Kevin costner’s character is downbeat, probably even too serious for the role. His interactions with a child played by Tina Majorino are too rough for such a light-hearted film. He practically tortures her, throwing her into the water forcefully (and she can’t swim) when she misbehaves by drawing on his boat.
Even during its downtime, Waterworld offers something to look at. The ocean is used well as a backdrop, consistently keeping the film in motion. Even though the chintzy story doesn’t offer enough, the visuals do.
In the end, Waterworld is a giant plot hole. Their goal of finding dry land is blatantly obvious. The tattoo on the girl’s back that the entire film centers around actually gives the location of what everyone is fighting for with latitude and longitude markers. Intelligence is not a strong point of this future civilization.
Waterworld was previously released on HD DVD and it seems as if Universal has used the same master for this Blu-ray effort.
This AVC encode is rough and over processed. Edge enhancement is evident and grain tends to clump together. Detail is fair at best and almost nonexistent in long shots. Dennis Hopper’s face late into the film is the best evidence for the level of detail this transfer is capable of. Unfortunately, few other shots reach this level. Definition is poor, and generally soft. Shadow delineation is decent with only a small amount of black crush.
Contrast is bright and when the grain is not overly digital, the film appears quite clear. Colors are wildly inconsistent, the water changing shades of blue during the same scene. Flesh tones are bronzed, although this is a result of scorched skin from the amount of sun the inhabitants are forced to endure.
A DTS-HD track initially is impressive. Waterworld delivers early action utilizing the surrounds effectively and the front soundstage equally. The subwoofer is rocked mildly although still somewhat flat.
The biggest issues are in the highs. Gunfire and the musical score are incredibly flat, lacking a general crispness that uncompressed audio should deliver. Dialogue is somewhat lacking as well. The low-end never truly gets going but still has showcases some beefy explosions.
The track’s best quality is the constant flow of water. Liquid crashes into shores, into boats, and splashes in all channels as jet skis complete their jumps. It is very immersive, certainly something the film needs given its shaky quality.
Universal skimps on the extras, offering only a trailer and D-Box motion control support. BD-Live is utilized but offers nothing on the film itself. Oddly, the artwork is shared with an extended version DVD, but that cut is not included here, nor are any of the extras.