Waterworld appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. I felt pleased with this satisfying presentation.
Sharpness was positive. A little softness cropped up in a few wide shots, but the movie mostly showed strong delineation.
I saw no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes were absent. Print flaws also failed to appear, and the moderate abundance of grain meant I didn’t suspect any issues with digital noise reduction.
Waterworld went with an earthy palette, as rusty browns and greens dominated the affair. Given these choices, the colors appeared appropriately rendered.
Blacks appeared dark and full, while low-light shots offered good delineation. Across the board, this turned into a solid image.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Waterworld proved similarly satisfying. My only complaint about the soundfield stemmed from the manner in which the elements meshed.
At times the various components didn’t blend together particularly well, so the film took on a rather speaker-specific vibe. This wasn’t a terrible flaw, but it meant that the audio wasn’t as seamless as I’d like.
At least the movie kept things active. The many action scenes created good opportunities for dynamic audio, and the track managed to flesh out the visuals well. Lots of unique sound came from all around the room, so expect the track to draw you into the action.
Audio quality was also positive. Speech appeared natural and crisp, without edginess or other distractions.
Music got a little buried in the mix and occasionally lacked great pizzazz, but the score was usually pretty solid, so that side of things offered generally solid vivacity.
Effects showed nice clarity and definition, and they also boasted fine bass response. The track didn’t work well enough to enter “A” level, but it still seemed good.
How did this 2019 “Limited Edition” Blu-ray compare to the prior BD from 2009? Audio felt similar, so I didn’t notice any obvious changes to the soundtrack.
On the other hand, visuals showed an obvious uptick. The 2019 disc appeared better defined and it lacked the minor edge haloes of the original. This turned into a definite improvement over the prior release.
Whereas the 2009 BD included virtually no extras, the 2019 LE comes with a bunch, including three separate versions of the film. In addition to the Theatrical Cut (2:15:06), we find a TV Cut (2:56:01) and the Ulysses Cut (2:57:12).
The “TV Cut” was created for an ABC broadcast, and “Ulysses” used the “TV Cut” as its basis. Compiled by fans, “Ulysses” essentially blends the added footage from the “TV Cut” with material deemed too spicy for broadcast TV.
As such, the nudity that disappears for “TV” appears in “Ulysses”. Profanity and a bit more violence comes back for “Ulysses” as well.
Because it lacks the TV censorship, “Ulysses” becomes the more satisfying of the two alternate versions. Nonetheless, both function the same in terms of how they tell the story.
Whichever extended edition you choose, Waterworld indeed undergoes a notable expansion. Of course, the basics remain the same, but the alternate cuts flesh out characters and circumstances better and fill in some plot holes.
Do any of these changes make Waterworld a great film? No – many of the theatrical cut’s flaws remain, and the fact the alternates push up against three hours means they can turn into an endurance test.
That said, “TV” and “Ulysses” do become superior versions of the story. They seem more coherent and flow better. Nothing will ever turn Waterworld into a classic, but at least the extended cuts give us a more coherent tale – albeit one with an awfully long running time.
The remaining extras appear on the Theatrical platter, and the main attraction comes from Maelstrom: The Odyssey Of Waterworld. A one-hour, 42-minute, 22-second affair, we find comments from writer Peter Rader, film historian Justin Humphreys, producer Charles Gordon, director Kevin Reynolds, executive producer Ilona Herzberg, production designer Dennis Gassner, director of photography Dean Semler, special effects technician Eric Allard, production assistant David Bernstein, lead scene artist Michael Denering, stunt coordinator RA Rondell, second AD Robert Huberman, script supervisor Ana Maria Quintana, pyrotechnician Gary D’Amico, special effects assistant Jeff Bresin, special effects manager Gabe Videla, miniature effects supervisor Mark Stetson, and film music journalist Tim Greiving.
Actors Kevin Costner, Jeanne Tripplehorn, and Tina Majorino also appear via circa 1994 footage.
“Maelstrom” looks at the project’s origins and development, the original script and changes, story/characters, production design, costumes and stylistic choices. We also hear about cast and performances, shooting on water, photography and sets, stunts and action, various effects, music, editing, controversies, promotion, and release/legacy.
Unquestionably, the biggest flaw found in “Maelstrom” comes from the absence of the actors in new footage – especially Costner, as he obviously provides the most prominent “name”. Even without Costner, though, “Maelstrom” becomes a strong documentary.
It covers the film in a thorough, logical manner and it does so in a lively, insightful way. “Maelstrom” turns into a comprehensive and informative show.
One footnote: producer Charles Gordon claims Waterworld eventually made a profit. I’m not sure how he figures that, as it cost $175 million and ended up with $264 million total worldwide.
Given the usual calculation that a film needs a good 2.5 times its cost to go into the black, I don’t know how Gordon came to his conclusion. Waterworld made more money than its production cost but everyone knows movies need to cover other expenses like promotion to be profitable.
From 1995, Dances With Waves runs nine minutes, 20 seconds and includes notes from Reynolds, Costner, Tripplehorn, Majorino, Gordon, Semler, Gassner, Rondell, costume designer John Bloomfield, property master Michael Milgrom, and actor Dennis Hopper.
A promotional affair, “Waves” offers a general take on the production. Given the reason it exists, it’s better than average.
Critic Glenn Kenny looks at the film’s genre in Global Warnings. During this 22-minute, 21-second chat, Kenny covers the “apocalyptic movies” from over the years and makes this an engaging, informative chat.
In addition to two trailers and 14 TV Spots, the disc wraps with two Image Galleries. This domain splits into “Production” (258 across 5 areas) and “Promotional” (40). Plenty of good images appear, especially in the “Concept Art” section.
Does Waterworld deserve its status as an infamous flop? No, but it also shouldn’t be viewed as an unjustly maligned classic, as it offers a mix of thrills and idiocy. The Blu-ray provides very good picture and audio along with a useful mix of supplements highlighted by two alternate cuts of the film. Fans should feel pleased with this fine release.
To rate this film visit the prior review of WATERWORLD