12 -The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, August 9, 1995
'Waterworld' a solid effort
uanaaian nae-rocxers Jaie piay tne wino rig on Aug. 27 with Versus.
National Poetry Slam- Ann Ar-
bor hosts the sixth annual national con-
test. Call 810-645-6666 for ticket info.
The Plumbobs -Local insanity at
the Blind Pig Tomorrow. Call the Pig at
996-8555 for info on this or any other
Blind Pig shows.
The Bucket - CD release party at
the Blind Pig on Saturday.
The Softies -K Records artists
play all-guitar jangly pop at the Blind
Pig Tuesday, Aug. 15.
Wayne Kramer -Ex-MC5 gui-
tarist and current Epitaph recording art-
ist play the Pig Wednesday, Aug. 16.
"Crumb"--Terry Zwigoff's six-
year project filming the wit and perver-
sion of infamous cartoonist Robert
Crumb and his equally eccentric and
absorbing family. An absolute must'
see. At the Michigan from Aug. 18-30.
TruckStop Love-- Kansas coun-
try punks invade Rick's and hold you
hostage Saturday, Aug. 19. All ages
show. Call 996-2747 for more info.
"The General" and "The Rink"
- Live organ accompanies the two si-
lent comedy classics starring Buster
Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, respec-
tively. At the Michigan Sunday, Aug.
20 at 5 p.m. for free.
"Bandit Queen" - The highly
acclaimed story of Phoolan Devi, at
the Michigan Aug. 25-31.
Ida-Simple Machines recording
artists perform at the Blind Pig Friday,
Versus - Teen Beat recording
artists performing with Sub Pop's Jale
at the Pig Sunday, Aug. 27.
Blonde Redhead - Lollapalooza
second stagers play Zoot's on the cam-
pus of Wayne State for two shows on
Tuesday, Aug. 29.
By Michael Zilberman
Daily Arts Writer
It's one of those strange occasions
when with the arrival of something
long-awaited, the fun stops. In a
matter of weeks, the last newspaper
page bearing a headline with an aw-
ful "water" pun will be put to the
eternal rest in a recycling bin, and all
we are left with is ... a movie. After
all that's been said about Reynolds /
Costner's "Waterworld," it comes as
a shocking revelation that once
we're dealing with an actual product
instead of a mythical black hole of a
project, there's not much to write
The premise of the movie nicely
fits into the form of a 25-word pitch.
(In the future, the polar ice caps have
melted, flooding the entire planet
with H20. Dirt is a gold's equiva-
lent, and dry land but a myth.) The
story itself centers around the Mari-
ner, a strangely named (under the
circumstances, everybody's a mari-
ner of sorts), strangely idiosyncratic
anti-hero. The Mariner's a "muto,"
one of the first to adapt to a new
world: he has webbed feet and a pair
of extremely unpleasant-looking
gills. After a narrow escape from the
Atoll, a floating colony of nautical
weirdos, he is joined by a beautiful
young woman (Jeanne Tripplehorn)
and a girl (Tina Majorino) with a tat-
too on her back that might just be a
map to the legendary Dryland. More
narrow escapes follow: the girl is
also of an immediate interest to the
Smokers - a ragtag crew of ma-
rauding bikers headed by the Dea-
con, a sinister dude played by, who
else, Dennis Hopper. And so the trio
sails on, fighting off one attack after
another, bickering and bonding.
As is the case with most recent
grand-scale productions, the plot is
kept to a healthy minimum and built
around a quest motive - the better to
lead our heroes through as many set-
tings as possible. To say that
"Waterworld" somewhat overempha-
sizes its sets would be equal to saying
that it had cost a buck or two: in fact,
Directed by Kevin Reynolds;
with Kevin Costner, Jeanne
Tripplehorn and Dennis
At Briarwood and Showcase
I've never seen a film so utterly ob-
sessed with the background of its every
shot. This peculiar quirk comes to the
point when you wish the heroes in the
forefront would just leave the frame.
It's awfully tempting to compare the
whole movie to its main set, the horse-
shoe-shaped Atoll: both are towering,
intimidating presence cobbled together
from recycled parts.
And boy, I mean recycled. Costing
more than all Mad Max movies had
grossed, "Waterworld" still can't resist
lifting characters, motives, entire
scenes from the original Aussie post-
apocalyptic biker film. Knowing the
history of the project, it's not too sur-
prising - "Waterworld" was, after all,
conceived as a "Death Race 3000"-like
cheapie. It's saddening nonetheless -
to see that after hundreds of rewrites
and budget adjustments it somehow
preserved visible traces of its previous
identity: "Waterworld" is essentially a
B-movie with a budget that could get a
couple of Third World countries out of
Not that the lack of financial re-
straints hurt the production.
"Waterworld" might be the first film
ever to radiate a distinct feeling that
its creators didn't have to compro-
mise a single frame out of technical
concerns. Visually, it's a director's
wet dream: if something could be
drawn on a storyboard, it went
straight into the film. Individual se-
quences are structured with crazed
inspiration that makes "Ben Hur"
look like "My Dinner With Andre",
and I'm pretty sure at least two of
them - 10-minute-plus "Smokers'
Assault" and a short yet dazzling
"Dive" will end up in textbooks. The
film is a triumph of movie making as
a craft. Its ads could have sounde
like this: "From the people who
brought you the arrow's point-o
view shot... comes the most excitin
underwater steadicam sequence eve
committed to film!"
The A-list talent also doesn't ex-
actly sink the movie. Costner, oper-
ating with simple dialogue, his face
remaining virtually expressionless,
succeeds in conveying two feuding
desires that tear the Mariner apart:
he seems to be begging for attention
- and desperate to be left along
Dennis Hopper brings a jolt of ma-
levolent energy as a Napoleon-in-
rags villain. Jeanne Tripplehorn is a
beauty, and although Tina Majorino
is a bit too precocious..far her own
good, together they make a touching
Yet still, when the movie comes
to its inevitable "Mad Max Returns
To The Blue Lagoon" coda, there's a
faint feeling of dissatisfaction li
gering. Only when the end credits
roll, do we realize that it has to do
more with our expectations than
with the movie itself: yes, we were
entertained and, more than once,
awed. Yet "Waterworld," for all its
grandeur, is not a step to a new level.
All the visual razzle-dazzle aside,
there's nothing in this film that
would make it substantially, drasti-
cally different from "Surf Nazis
Must Die." Ultimately,
"Waterworld" is neither a dawn of a
new era for movie making nor a sign
of Apocalypsis. Just good stunts, re-
spectable direction and Costner with
gills. As promised.
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