This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

Category Post-Apocalyptic Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1995 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 129:38 minutes Other Extras Production Notes
Cast & Crew Biographies
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (68:16)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director Kevin Reynolds

Columbia Tristar
Starring Kevin Costner
Dennis Hopper
Jeanne Tripplehorn
Tina Majorino
Michael Jeter
Case Transparent Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music James Newton Howard

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 5.0
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages
Region 4
English (Dolby Digital 5.0)
Soundtrack Languages
Region 2
English (Dolby Digital 5.0)
German (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
French (Dolby Digital 5.0)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Region 4
English for the Hearing Impaired Annoying Product Placement Yes
Region 2
English for the Hearing Impaired

Plot Synopsis

    Kevin Costner has had mixed success at the box office. Dances With Wolves is acclaimed, but much of his work after this has not enjoyed a great deal of success. I approached Waterworld with an open mind. I was aware of the fact that it had been poorly received, but I was also aware of the fact that The Postman was also poorly received, and I actually quite liked it - at least I quite liked it the second time I watched it. The first time I watched The Postman I thought it was boring and far too long.

    Waterworld is set in the future, when the polar ice caps have melted, and dry land is but a myth. Kevin Costner is an unnamed Mariner, going about his own business until an unfortunate series of events, after which he finds himself a prisoner on a floating man-made island. The island is attacked and Kevin is almost killed. He is saved at the last minute by a woman, Helen (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and her smart-mouthed daughter, Enola (Tina Majorino). The price? Helen and Enola want to be taken to the mythical dry land which they believe the Mariner knows the location of. Unbeknownst to the Mariner, Enola has a map tattooed onto her back which allegedly shows the location of dry land, and hence Enola is in great demand. The band of pirates that attacked the island now come after Enola, led by Deacon (Dennis Hopper).

    The remainder of the movie focuses on the capture and recapture of Enola and on the search for dry land.

    The movie almost works, but not quite. There are problems with the story. Firstly, there are far too many amazing and lucky coincidences for my liking. Secondly, there are far too many improbable stunts. Thirdly, I could never understand why the Mariner didn't just kill Helen and Enola early on in the piece - there was plenty of just cause for doing so, and the Mariner was portrayed as quite a ruthless character who thought nothing of killing. Fourthly, there was no chemistry between the leads.

    Add to this equation some very fake and cheesy looking CGI effects, and the net result is a movie that could have been great, but instead was only very pedestrian.

Transfer Quality


    Warner Advanced Media Operations were responsible for the compression of this disc.

    This is a magnificent transfer, and is of reference quality.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was razor sharp and crystal clear throughout. Water, in particular, was well-encoded and without any visible artefacting, and water is notorious for being difficult to MPEG encode because of the high degree of movement it exhibits between images. Shadow detail was excellent and there was no low level noise.

    The colours were marginally more muted than they perhaps could have been, but this is being very picky indeed. They remained consistent throughout the entire transfer.

    There were no MPEG artefacts seen. There were no film-to-video artefacts seen. Film artefacts were exceedingly rare.

    Subtitles can be selected from either the remote control or from the menu. The main menu selections are dependent on which Region the DVD player is set to, whereas the remote control allows selection of all the subtitles no matter what Region the DVD player is set to - clearly a slight authoring glitch which actually makes the disc easier to use.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed within Chapter 6, at 68:16. This is mildly disruptive.


    The audio tracks available on this DVD are dependent on the Region that the DVD player is set to in the same way as for subtitles. As is the case with the subtitles, audio selections are selectable on-the-fly rather than only selectable through the menu system, and all audio selections are available independent of the Region setting of the player via the remote control, but not via the menu.

    There are five audio tracks on this DVD; English Dolby Digital 5.0, German Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded, Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded, French Dolby Digital 5.0, and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded. I listened to the default English Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack. There is no .1 track encoded onto this disc. This is common to all versions of this disc in all regions.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand.

    There were no audio sync problems with this disc.

    The score by James Newton Howard is another superlative effort on his part. The music sets just the right mood for the movie at all times.

    The surround channels were used superbly throughout this movie, both for the action sequences, and also during the non-action sequences, when ambience, music and special effects were mixed aggressively thoughout the entire soundfield. The soundtrack was very immersive and gave a great sense of being out there on the water, with water surrounding you on all sides. The entire soundfield was active throughout pretty much the entire movie, rather than just coming in to play for the action sequences.

    The .1 channel was not encoded, but a reasonable amount of bass was present in the other channels during the action sequences. It would have been even better, however, if some additional bottom end was included via the .1 channel. I believe that the movie was released theatrically with a 5.0 mix rather than a 5.1 mix, so this DVD is true to the original soundtrack.


    There are only limited extras on this disc.

What's Missing / What's Extra

    The Region 1 and Region 4 versions of this disc have the same features.


    The menu design is plain but effective.

Theatrical Trailer

    This shows many of the film's best scenes, and is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, non 16x9 enhanced, and with Dolby Digital 2.0 surround sound.

Production Notes

    These are detailed, interesting and easy to read.

Cast & Crew Biographies

    These are also detailed and easy to read.


    Waterworld is a valiant attempt at creating an ambitious post-apocalyptic world that sadly falls short of its goal. It is still definitely worth at least a rental, though.

    The video quality is of reference quality.

    The audio quality is excellent, despite the lack of a .1 channel.

    The extras are limited.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
28th July 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer