Waterworld and troubles for Blu-ray? (Mania.com)

By:John Sinnott
Date: Sunday, December 10, 2006

PS3 Hurting Blu-ray?: Sony has always touted the PS3 as the key to winning the format war between HD DVD and Blu-ray.  When the PS3 is released, so the original argument went, there would be hundreds of thousands and soon millions of Blu-ray players in American homes.  Well, it seems the Blu-ray component is actually hurting the PS3.  The market influence analytics company Cymfony just released a report on the next generation video formats.  One of the more surprising findings was that gamers resent the Blu-ray capability of the PS3.  The complaint is that Sony is forcing people to buy a feature they don’t want.  The Xbox 360’s HD DVD player is a $200 option, but the BR capability is mandatory on a PS3 and has that feature worked into the $500 and $600 MSRPs (depending on the features.)  Some days it seems like Sony can’t do anything right.   

From Hell in Limbo:  The Jonny Depp Jack the Ripper thriller From Hell was supposed to be released on Blu-ray last week, but disappeared from the Fox schedule at the last minute.  There was no reason given for the lack of release, and no new date has been given.  We’ll keep you posted on the film’s fate. 
 

This week’s Spotlight:  Waterworld on HD DVD 

Ahhh, Waterworld.  Even before it was released there were rumors swirling around that star/producer Kevin Costner was out of control on the set.  It was reported that he would trash weeks of filming, reworked scenes on the fly and over-rode director Kevin Reynolds frequently.  Reynolds even walked off the picture when it was near completion because of these frequent clashes leaving Costner to direct the last scenes himself.  Writer Joss Whedon was flown out to do script rewrites at the end of the production, something he’s described as “seven weeks of hell.”  The costs spiraled out of control finally reaching $175 million dollars making it the most expensive movie ever made at that time.  Is it all true?  Who knows.  What is known is that when the movie was finally released it was slammed by the critics and became a legendary flop, joining the ranks of such films as Ishtar and Heaven’s Gate.  (Though this is not really accurate.  The film eventually did make money.)  This film has now been released on HD DVD, so viewers can decide for themselves if it’s as bad as everyone says. 

The story centers around The Mariner (Costner) a loner who sails across the oceans that have encompassed the Earth since the polar caps melted.  Mariner scavenges items left over from before the flood and trades those, along with dirt the current currency, to groups living in ‘atolls’, man-made islands that are the last refuge of humanity.  He’s also careful to avoid the Smokers, evil pirates lead by the near-insane Deacon (Dennis Hopper), that raid the Atolls and are the scourge of the sea. 

Into this picture comes Helen (Jeanne Tripplehorn), and a girl named Enola (Tina Majorino) who live in an atoll that Mariner visits.  On Enola’s back is an odd tattoo that seems to be a map that shows dry land.  Deacon has heard of this map and will go to any lengths to get it.  It’s up to Mariner to save the young girl, defeat the Smokers, and find the legendary dry land. 

There’s so much wrong with this movie it’s hard to know where to begin.  The thing that turned me off the most was the frequent plot holes that left me scratching my head.  If the polar ice caps melted the sea level would rise, but not by thousands of feet that is shown in this film.  Okay, it’s stupid, but I can ignore that.  Maybe there was a secondary cause that no one knows about or something.  But what about the Smokers?  Where did they get all the cigarettes?  Dry land is just a myth so some time has obviously passed since the great thaw. You can’t tell me that there were decades worth of cigarettes on the oil tanker that they live on.  For that matter, where did the jet skis come from?  Or how did they convert raw crude oil into gasoline?  Why is dirt a valuable commodity?  What are the small quantities of it used for?  The list goes on and on. 

The acting was also fairly abysmal.  Costner himself has little dialog and spends most of the movie glaring and looking constipated.  He’s way to serious in this role and the time he’s on screen are some of the slowest in the film.  The rest of the cast, with the exception of Hopper who does a great job, are too cheesy to be really convincing. 

The plot, basically Mad Max on water, is simple, derivative and very predictable.  From the first mention of the mythical Dryland viewers will be able to figure out how the movie ends.  The script drags a lot, especially in the middle, and it just has a hard time holding a viewer’s interest. 

There were some good aspects to the film.  The action scenes were fun and some of the underwater photography and ocean panoramas were beautiful.  These weren’t enough to make up for the movie’s failings however. 

The HD DVD version of this film looks pretty good.  Actually it’s too good in a lot of places.  The special effects shots are readily apparent and they don’t hold up well, looking a bit dated.  There are also some specs on the print though, which is unfortunate. 

This movie has its share of fans, though I’ve never enjoyed it.  While I’ll admit some of the action scenes are exciting to watch, there are just too many plot holes and not enough story to hold my interest.  There are much better HD DVD discs to spend your money on. 

Upcoming High Definition Discs:  
 

December 12, 2006 

Blu-ray 

The Devil Wears Prada 

Kung Fu Hustle

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby 

World Trade Center 

HD DVD 

Field of Dreams

Hulk

World Trade Center 

December 19, 2006 

Blu-ray 

All the King's Men 

Invincible

Lady in the Water

Pearl Harbor 

The Sopranos: Season Six, Part One 

HD DVD 

Casino 

Derailed

Jet Li's Fearless

Lady in the Water

The Matador

Scary Movie 4

The Scorpion King

The Sopranos: Season Six, Part One

Wolf Creek 

December 26, 2006 

Blu-ray 

The Descent

Transporter 2 

HD DVD 

Casino

Jet Li's Fearless

Lady in the Water

The Matador

Scary Movie 4

The Scorpion King

The Sopranos: Season Six, Part One

Wolf Creek 

January 02, 2007 

Blu-ray 

The Covenant 

HD DVD 

(none) 

January 16, 2007 

Blu-ray 

GoodFellas

Resident Evil: Apocalypse

Scooby-Doo (2002) 

Winged Migration 

HD DVD 

The Mummy Returns

Poseidon

Scooby-Doo (2002)

The Sting