Saturday, May 7, 2011


This post is actually about Waterworld full-stop.

The question mark is there because I'm trying to address that thing that happens when someone comes into your gaff for the first time and they're checkin' out your bookshelf and video-stack and they get this smile on their face like they've 'caught you in the act', and they're partly curious as to why Waterworld is there, partly delighted they've found something about you they can laugh at, and partly patronising as if they're about to nudge you in the elbow and whisper conspiratorially;

"Waterworld is a CRAP film... I'd put that video away where people can't see it if I were you! friend-to-friend, y'know... just a heads up!"

When I hear it from another room (because people only really openly ogle your shite when you nip out for a second) when I hear the sudden exclamation of surprise/gloating/nervous pity combined in the jocular inquiry "Waterworld?" it always makes me regret letting a stranger into my house in the first place.

Now Waterworld is hardly a great film. But it seems to have the reputation of the most shite film ever and as for 'reputation' . well...sometimes people quote Shakespeare on reputation, i.e.:

"Reputation is an idle and most false imposition;
oft got without merit, and lost without deserving."

As if Shakespeare was Socrates or Mohammed or somebody, just dropping his pearls of wisdom left right and centre for posterity to contemplate.
Nay! - I say this quote is a line, from a play, from a villain, and Shakespeare being Shakespeare,- it was designed to appear to the audience not as the author's opinion or as universal truth, but to illustrate what a sneaky and and manipulating, conniving so-and-so Iago was.

Still, we can see how it convinces Cassio because it is kinda true. I reckon Waterworld garnered its reputation as a shit-storm of a fillum from it's historical context and it's association with Costner and not from it's strength or weaknesses as a stand-alone cinema-story.

When it came out, everybody was pretty much browned-off with Kevin Costner.
Kevin Costner had been jammy enough to be picked as the lead in several really good and popular fillums, and had come to the entirely understandable conclusion that 'Robin Hood' ,'Dances with Wolves' , 'Field of Dreams' and 'The Untouchables' had done so well because he was in them. ( As opposed to the other conclusion, that these were good stories,, so good in fact, that his presence hadn't ruined them, and the reason he kept getting consistently good parts in good films was because the films had done well... and he was just being passed around Hollywood like a lucky rabbit's foot by silly lazy people who presume it must always be the main actor guy who everybody comes to see...)

As I remember it, by the time Waterworld came out, far from being enthused about the idea of Kevin Costner being in a film; most people I knew were sick of him turning up in otherwise perfectly good films, making us all sit through Kevin Costner being Kevin Costner and then taking the credit for something that somebody of his limited appeal and abilities was extremely lucky to be included in in the first place.

It seemed, that by the time Waterworld came out, that global cinema audiences had decided to themselves:

"D'you know what?- it's time to send this fool a message; let's not go."

And so they didn't and it was a satisfactory act for many to know that Costner had put his neck on the line and possibly made the most expensive movie ever, encouraged by his own belief in his personal ability to draw an audience which was never that mad about him in the first place:

Seriously, have you ever, in your life, heard this phrase:
"I'm a big Kevin Costner fan"

Waterworld is the film where everybody decided ' fuck him - he's a wanker! - I am going to take a personal delight in not going to this film, because Costner's an 'up-his-own-arse cuntbag' and any contribution I that can make to his failure is actually more satisfying to me than an hour and a half's entertainment could ever be.

An understandable sentiment.

But here's the thing... it's not that shite a film, it's really not.

It's like a Mad Max film, I think it's just as good as Mad Max 1 or 2, and probably superior to Mad Max 3. The future dystopia is more fully realised in Waterworld than it is any either of those three fillums, and it's an interesting concept.
It has silly bits and it aint as clever as it thinks it is, but it's okay and I like it, and I shant be removing it from my shelf anytime soon.
Even if that means I run the danger of hearing

one more time,

when I'm in the kitchen,

where there are knives...


  1. Hmm, I quite agree. In the pantheon of tolerable films, Waterworld rates in my view as "hokum" (not as good as "enjoyable hokum" mind, or as poor as "passable hokum" either , just "ho-hum: your pays your money and you takes your chances - hokum").

    Having said that it's worth pointing out that, despite all the over run budget and it being incredibly expensive and what not, it actually went on to make a considerable amount of cash, on, you'll be disappointed to hear, of all things, video sales. Score one up for Marzy's shelves then.

    What kills me about any discussion of Waterworld and similar films that are deemed "turkeys" is that box-office takings are somehow equated directly with every possible form of merit (artistic and commercial, commonly know as "critical and box office success"). In fact one of the greatest, if flawed cinematic masterpieces of all time, Cimino's "Heaven's Gate" is also boringly quoted as one of the most commercially unsuccessful films of all time, and bankrupted UA. Likewise Terry Gilliam's "Adventures of Baron Von Munchausen", which is actually a good film.

    Whereas unsurpassed total gank, like any James Bond film you care to mention, makes money (chiefly because they are marketed so heavily) and so the franchise oozes forward, despite being devoid of the least particle or any artistic, cinematic, scripted or acting merit whatsoever. No one names them for the monumental failures of morality and human spirit that they are, just because they happen to be a bit profitable. Ah the way of mammon.


  2. I care to mention 'Live and let die' which I would personally put in the 'enjoyable hokum' pile for three things:

    #1 where Kananga peels off his rubber face in a Scooby-doo stylee.

    #2 The set-piece of the New Orleans funeral party that collects a murdered man in the street with a bottom-opening coffin, and then turns into a Mardi Gras.

    #3 Bond's sneaky trick that he plays on 'Solitaire' by having her pick a card that depicts 'lovers' from a deck that he has put together comprised of just the 'Lovers' card over and over. — I just love the idea of him in the card shop," I'll have 52 packets of tarot please!"

    But as for your general point, I could not concur more: this whole idea of commercial 'turkeys' tells us nothing.
    ( Incidentally, for my VHS copy of 'Waterworld' I paid 50¢ in the Limerick Animal Welfare shop. I may not have significantly contributed to the recovery of Paramount's investment but it was, I believe, a fair price).