PictureWaterworld comes to Blu-ray in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen with a decent enough 1080p High Definition rendition. The setting should make the video a little more vibrant, the colours a little more deep, but perhaps they look this way because the film hasn't been given a glossy sheen like many recent flicks - i.e. it is just plain more realistic. The detail is generally very good, facial close-ups are excellent and the longer shots stand up to the test of time, without too much processing evidence or signs of digital defects. Edge enhancement and noise are kept to a minimum, the grain that is evident only helping to give the movie a slightly more gritty post-apocalyptic feel although, for the budget, you would expect things to be more perfect and less low budget Mad Max 2. The early-era CG Effects look particularly noticeable on the High Def format, and do not work so well when compared to the latest blockbusters, but then again the big set-pieces (Costner riding the zip-line as explosions break out all around him) do still look good. Black levels are decent enough, although the film does not have that many, and the colours - as aforementioned - are realistic if, therefore, a little bland. I certainly would have preferred a deeper blue sea and more of a sun-drenched feel rather than lacklustre blue-grey water and bleached colours. Overall this is easily the best Waterworld has ever looked.
SoundTo accompany this action-adventure we get a boisterous DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio mix that does a cracking job. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently, from the Deacon's demented posturing to the Mariner's gruff mumblings. The effects are commonplace, from noisy buzzing jet-skis to the mechanical grinding of cogs and winches and the like - as much of the machinery is unpowered. We also get the more punchy noises, like explosions and gunshots (the massive mounted repeating cannon thunders across your room), which offer up some keen dynamics. The thrashing of the water gives the ocean setting some presence and it is quite an immersive mix. Despite my praise for the way in which the soundtrack is presented, I cannot help but note the horrendous score, which - in its moments - truly takes over and ruins the feel of the film. It is an annoying, flashy and massively dated effort that gets carried away with itself, particularly in moments where the Mariner is riding his trimaran and posing a lot. Still, purely from a technical standpoint this is a solid offering.
ExtrasThe worst thing about this bare bones release is that we know there's an Extended Cut out there, and that it has been released on DVD, and we still don't get it here, even on the superior format! But beyond that we actually get nothing in the Extras department. We don't get Deleted Scenes. We don't get a Commentary. We don't get a single revealing Extra on this release. Well, apart from the lousy Theatrical Trailer, in the wrong aspect ratio, which shows a couple of the scenes that we don't ever get to see. Massively disappointing.
VerdictWaterworld is a lot more fun than people would like to admit, but it is clearly also a prime example of monumental over-spending. Even though it probably cost ten times as much, it is far inferior to its predecessor, Mad Max 2, which is clearly the basis for almost everything that happens in this nautical variation. I suspect Costner's ego itself must have added to the disaster of it all, and it is a shame that his is the only version of the film that we get on this Blu-ray release, despite the fact that the extended cut could have easily been seamlessly integrated onto the disc as an alternative option. Aside from this, and the distinct lack of extras (which could have perhaps shone some light on the film's sordid production history), the disc is actually quite a technically decent offering - the video good and the audio excellent. Fans of Waterworld will be pleased enough to see the film on Blu-ray, newcomers should check it out for its unusual setting - but a rental will probably suffice in that respect - especially when it's more than likely that, sooner or later, they are going to double-dip and release the extended cut. Probably still trying to make up their losses.
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