Dry land is not just our destination, it is our destiny!
Starring Kevin Costner and directed by Kevin Reynolds, co-released with a tie-in Novel and Game. It used a then record-breaking budget of $175 million, but was a massive flop in the U.S., only grossing $88 million at the box office. However, it did quite well at the foreign box office, where it managed to make $176 million, saving it from becoming a financial failure, or not; it's complicated
Set In a World where the polar ice-caps have melted
(due to a havoc caused by a geomagnetic reversal) the world is covered by water. What's left of humanity is surviving on ramshackle crafts tied together to make Atolls (villages). The Mariner (Costner) enters one of these Atolls to trade, but is discovered to be a mutant and sentenced to death. After a group of pirates known as the Smokers attack the Atoll, a woman named Helen and her adopted daughter Enola bribe the Mariner to take them to Dryland, the legendary last remaining island. Enola conveniently has a map on her back.
The Smokers chase the Mariner and kidnap the girl. The Mariner sneaks onto their base of operations ( the Exxon Valdez
, now converted into a city) and saves the girl. The heroes are finally able to read the map on Enola's back, which leads them to Dryland.
Contains Examples of the Following tropes:
- Adaptation Distillation: Not for the movie itself, but the Universal Studios show based on it is actually quite good and has been going on for seventeen years.
- After the End
- All Hail The Great God Mickey: Deacon every so often mentions "Old Saint Joe" with the same reverence as an actual saint. Near the end of the movie it's revealed that the Smokers' base is the remains of the Exxon Valdez and "Old Saint Joe" is a portrait of the ship's disgraced captain, Joseph Hazelwood.
- All of the Other Reindeer: Don't like Kevin Costner's gills.
- Always Chaotic Evil: The smokers seem to fit this to a t.
- Anti-Hero: In typical 90's fashion.
- Apocalypse How: Class 2
- The Apunkalypse: Civilization has collapsed humans are adrift and the punkish, scavenging Smokers play the part of a large jet ski gang.
- Artistic License - Biology: Somehow, the Mariner can inhale water with his gills and exhale breathable air indefinitely to allow Helen to breathe underwater. Um... gills do not work that way.
- Artistic License - Geology:
- If you melted all the ice on the planet, you would cause a 60m (about 180 feet) rise in sea level, which is not nearly enough to create the ocean planet depicted.
- Not to mention the shores of the island at the end had sandy beaches. It takes a long time to erode rock to sand...
- And if there were enough ice to cover the world to the extent depicted, the ocean salt water would become diluted enough to be drinkable. (And kill everything that's adapted to live in salt water.)
- And if the underwater city he visits is indeed Denver there should be any number of islands within spitting distance. Not to mention Everest towering six miles above the sea. Not to mention that they fly TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD in that balloon to get to Everest.
- Artistic License - Physics
- Barbarian Longhair: Pretty much everybody has barbarian hair except for the villain who is bald.
- Big Bad: The Deacon
- Brutal Honesty
- Bullet Holes and Revelations
- But Now I Must Go
- City On The Water: Atolls and the Exxon Valdez.
- Changed My Mind, Kid: played straight.
- Character Development: Kevin Costner's character changed from Jerkass to Jerk with a Heart of Gold halfway through the movie and lost his "jerk" persona by the end of the movie.
- Conflict Ball: Helen, listen, first of all, when you've just blackmailed someone into saving your life, expecting trust is a little much. On top of that, in the middle of a firefight when that someone is trying to save your life and his is a really stupid time to answer any random question he asks you with "Can I trust you?!"
- Crapsack World: All that appears to be left is small communities on the edge of genetic extinction, traders, and marauders.
- The Dragon: The Nord
- Dull Surprise: Costner, a notorious contrast to Dennis Hopper's Ham and Cheese.
- Which is kind of justified, as he's spent most of his life alone on the ocean, keeping away from people to hide his mutation. Some people deal with that much solitude by going bonkers (like the sailor they encounter at the halfway point of the film), and others react by emotionally shutting down.
- Epic Movie
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: The Mariner. Subverted in the extended edition, wherein after the heroes reach Dry Land, Helen gives the Mariner a real name just before he heads back out onto the ocean. It's Ulysses, the Latin name of the main character of Homer's Odyssey.
- Eyepatch of Power: The Deacon gains one during the movie.
- Fantastic Racism: You'd believe that being able to breathe underwater would be quite a disereable trait in a ocean world, but people seemed to think otherwise.
- Forgot About His Powers: Leaving Enola alone on the ship to get kidnapped by the Smokers.
- Future Imperfect: While going through The Mariner's belongings, the Atoll's citizens assume that a yo-yo, flute, and exercise machine are garrote wire, a spy listener, and a torture device.
- Well, the last one isn't completely wrong...
- Green Aesop: Surprisingly averted, considering the film's portrayal of a ruined Earth and the bad guys' use of an oil tanker, which would have been a perfect opportunity to exploit an environmental message about pollution.
- Jerkass: The Mariner. He tossed a little girl overboard to drown.
- Justified in that he didn't know she couldn't swim. He even lampshades it.
- Lamarck Was Right: Kevin Costner has evolved gills behind his ears.
- The comics imply that the mutation may have been brought about by deliberate engineering.
- Large Ham: Dennis Hopper as the Deacon, the leader of the smokers.
- Logo Joke: The Universal globe floods to the levels seen in the movie proper.
- Long Runner: While the film bombed, the stunt show based on the film has been running at Universal Studios Hollywood since 1996. The parks in Japan and Singapore opened with the attraction in 2001 and 2010.
- MacGuffin Girl: Enola.
- Made of Explodium: A Wronski Feint between two smokers on jet skis creates a giant fireball explosion. What fuel they used to create the massive, towering fireball is still unknown. There are also traces of Outrun the Fireball, but on a bungee.
- Mood Whiplash: So the world has gone crap, few survivors left are squabbling against each other and there's tension between the protagonist and two female he saved... Suddenly, over-the-top Smokers hijinx!
- More Dakka: the smokers' idea of a siege weapon is a four-barrel anti-aircraft machinegun emplacement trained at your enemy's floating citadel. It gets hijacked by the good guys, and shows itself very effective against ships too.
- No Indoor Voice: "Maybe he has some FOOD!"
- Ocean Punk
- Of Corpse He's Alive: The Smokers make the residents of a small trading post, whom they've recently killed, appear to be waving to the Mariner as the latter approaches, intending to draw him into a deadly trap.
- Orphan's Plot Trinket
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "MU-TA-TIOOOON!" "HE'S-A-MU-TAAAANT!"
- Rasputinian Death: The Deacon.
- Recycled IN SPACE!: It's Mad Max... on JET SKIS!
- Religion of Evil: In the extended edition, The Deacon refers to the Smokers as the Church Of Eternal Growth when talking with Enola.
- Ruins of the Modern Age
- Scavenger World
- Scenery Gorn
- Sdrawkcab Name: Enola is "alone" spelled backwards. Fitting considering she was orphaned.
- Spent Shells Shower: A Smoker operating a Maxon Mount four-machine gun chassis in the atoll assault scene showers the boat it is mounted on and his crew with hundreds of .50 calibre brass shells.
- Technology Porn: Done for Padding.
- This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman
- Throwing Your Sword Always Works: When the Smokers raid the atoll, the Mariner impales one of them with a thrown machete.
- Title Drop: "Nothing's free in Waterworld"
- Token Romance: The Mariner and Helen.
- Too Dumb to Live:
- Enola, who lives in a world covered in water and doesn't know how to swim.
- The people who persecute "mutants" who can breathe under water.
- Traumatic Haircut
- Underwater Ruins