#64 | Waterworld 2: The Shape of Waterworld

Waterworld | Kevin Costner | Beyond The Box Set | Best Movie Podcasts


Listen to our Waterworld episode on:

Full disclosure: this episode was a mistake.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been running a little mini-season on movies directed by famous actors. So far we’ve looked at films by Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, Ben Stiller, Danny DeVito and Drew Barrymore. Not all of them classics, but all varying degrees of passable. So what better way to wrap up this season than by looking at a Waterworld – the notorious 90s bomb that helped to derail the career of director and star Kevin Costner.

There’s just one problem – Kevin Costner didn’t actually direct Waterworld. So why did we assume he did? Is the movie’s failure so inextricably associated with Costner’s spectacular fall from grace that we were somehow primed to believe that the responsibility lay squarely with him? Or did we just subconsciously really, really not want to sit through The Post?

Waterworld was actually directed by Kevin Reynolds, who had previously directed Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. However, while that collaboration was wildly successful, the Waterworld shoot was notoriously fraught, running massively over schedule and over budget, and plagued by accidents including destroyed sets, injured actors and a stuntman quite literally being lost at sea.

Ultimately – and fortuitously in terns of our slim justification for running this episode – Reynolds ultimately quit the movie during post-production, allegedly as a result of Costner’s incessant back-seat directing. The director later told Entertainment Tonight “In the future Costner should only appear in pictures he directs himself. That way he can always be working with his favourite actor and his favourite director.”

As a movie, Waterworld certainly bears the hallmarks of a troubled production. The movie is overlong, with a barely comprehensible plot and a bizarrely dislikable hero in Costner’s nameless Mariner. There’s a joyless quality to the movie that starts with Costner’s performance, but extends through the rest of the cast, none of whom seem to be having any fun whatsoever – with the possible exception of a reliably demented villain turn from Dennis Hopper.

On the plus side, it’s the kind of misbegotten disaster that’s great fun to talk about. We spend the best part of an hour in this week’s episode just trying to unpick the myriad baffling choices the movie makes – from opening with a shot of Costner literally drinking his own piss, to the frequent horrifying abuse of women and children in what was presumably supposed to be a relatively family-friendly film.

In the second half of the episode we pitch our sequel ideas, which this week feature a Wonder Woman-inspired return to Dryland that attempts to go some way towards correcting the seriously dodgy gender politics in this movie, and a crossover with some other notable 90s disaster epics and a popular time travelling cartoon scientist… all in a week’s work, in other words.

You can listen to this week’s episode on all good podcasting platforms using the links at the top of this blog post. If you enjoy the show, please subscribe and consider leaving us a review – it really helps us to find new listeners. You can also become a VIP supporter on Patreon, where we offer a wide variety of bonus content from as little as $2 per month, and you can contact us via Facebook or Twitter for any other comments or feedback you might have.

Next week, we’re joined by one of our most erudite guests to date, Dr James Mason PHD, to discuss a rare Disney misfire that wasn’t even successful enough to justify a direct-to-DVD sequel. Until then, stay dry, happy listening, and if you touch our crayons, we swear to God…