(Second viewing, On DVD, August 2017) I’ve grown soft on some of the movies I loved to dislike back in the nineties (see: Independence Day), but as it turns out, Waterworld is just as dumb now than it was back then. From the first moments, the idiocies accumulate quickly, and it’s hard to remain immersed in a Science Fiction movie when you keep muttering “no, no, that’s just stupid” every thirty seconds or so. Soaked dystopia Waterworld desperately tries to make audiences believe in a world entirely covered with water, in factions repeatedly meeting on a featureless ocean, in scarce resources being expended wildly, in … oh, forget it. But there’s more to the annoyance than nitpicking the film to death: it really doesn’t help that Waterworld’s action sequences are so repetitive, either taking place on water or in rusted-out low-imagination post-apocalyptic environments. The film is dull and blurs in trying to recall specific moments. Costner himself is almost a caricature of his own stoic persona, and there’s added irony in contemplating that the film largely takes place on a sea over the American west … that’s right: Westworld is another Costner western. If the film does show most of its then-record breaking budget on the screen, it’s not particularly exciting nor engaging. Sure, Jeanne Tripplehorn is always interesting and sure, it’s OK to see Dennis Hopper ham it up as a villain made to scare kids but … really? Now that I’ve watched Waterworld again, I’m ready to go another twenty years (or more) not thinking about it.
(On Cable TV, August 2013) This quasi-sequel to 1991’s Cast a Deadly Spell brings us back to an alternate 1950s Los Angeles suddenly awash in magic, but nearly everything else has changed: The noir aesthetics have given their place to bright Hollywood glam, the lead Private Investigator role is now played by Dennis Hopper and the tone of the film shifts from criminal horror to social commentary. Recasting McCarthyism as literal persecution of witches, Witch Hunt does get to be a bit too obvious at times. Still, there are a few things to like here and there despite the limited budget, including the background details and emphasis on a glamorous era for Hollywood. Hopper isn’t too bad as the lead, while Julian Sands is arresting as an evil magician and Penelope Ann Miller has an eye-catching role as a threatened starlet. The ending is a bit weak and obvious in its hurry to denounce witch-hunting for political gains, but the real fun of the film comes before then.
(In theaters, November 2000) The first time I tried to watch this film on TV, I drifted off fifteen minutes later, distracted by housework. This time, stuck in a second-run movie theater, I had no choice but to keep on watching, and I must that that the end result isn’t bad at all. A lot of famous names and faces (including one good sequence between ever-dependable Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper) plus an odd script from the pen of Quentin Tarantino, built around only a few sequences that last a long time each. Some surprises, a good action finale and crunchy dialogue make up for ridiculous plot development seemingly lifted from teenage fantasies and a roster of largely unsympathetic characters.