Written by / 5/11/2014 / No comments / , , ,

DEFENDING KEVIN COSTNER FOR WATERWORLD & THE POSTMAN

year: 1995 rating: ***1/2
WATERWORLD: When Dennis Hopper, playing a snarky villain named Deacon, the head of a rogue band of villains called Smokers, who, in a world where there is no land, only ocean, thanks to global warming’s effects having melted the polar ice caps…

When Deacon pulls down his eye patch to show us one eye missing, it's followed by an evil cackle… which is as corny as this mega-budget Kevin Costner vehicle, originally deemed a box office flop, gets. 

The best scenes have Costner’s Mariner, partly fish with gills behind his ear and an ability to swim with skillful resilience, on a sleek, primitive catamaran surviving through various drifters and those Smokers that appear out of nowhere, riding gas-grumbling jet skis. But there is a plot: A little girl named Enola exists on a floating city along with her caretaker Helen, played by Jeanne Tripplehorn. Enola has a map on her back which will supposedly lead to dry land, and the bad guys really want it.

Mariner winds up reluctantly protecting Enola and Helen, and we have a good twenty minutes as our hero survives in the deep blue sea, with company. His boat is a character it itself... With everything from a gun to sails that extend from hidden contraptions, we experience this neat skeleton-like vessel through the eyes of not only its captain but two strangers learning, the hard way, how and how not to keep it running. 

Sure it's a lot like Mad Max… this is, after all, THE ROAD WARRIOR on water… but Mariner can be even more selfish and independent, and potentially cutthroat and cold-blooded, taking a while to warm up to the only people who can help him find land: not a transition that comes quickly or easily.

Bookended by two raging battles, WATERWORLD really works when we have fewer characters. Dennis Hopper goes overboard, spouting the kind of dialogue you wouldn't expect from someone stuck in a landless post-apoc future, although he can be ghoulishly charming. And thankfully, Costner plays the part of a loner so well, he and FANDANGO director Kevin Reynolds make this isolated world a place that seems very real and, for the most part, genuine and unique. 

year: 1997 rating: ***
THE POSTMAN: Kevin Costner took a huge gamble with the Western epic DANCES WITH WOLVES... one that paid off considerably... And another on WATERWORLD, directed by Kevin Reynolds, which basically got him all wet...

So it was time for Kevin to try another epic, this time set on land in a post-apocalyptic future, which Costner, like he did with WOLVES, directed himself. 

Beginning with the most involving scenes, the first fifteen minutes has Costner’s unnamed character traveling the barren landscape with his pet mule, grabbing cigarettes from a broken machine and wiling away the hours of a dead world. They wind up in a ragtag conclave of survivors, performing Shakespeare, when the lead villain and his henchman appear... way too soon. Will Patton’s General Bethlehem is a nomadic Napoleon crossed with Hitler crossed with... you name the dictator and Will plays him to the hilt, and beyond.

THE POSTMAN keeps an intriguing, action-packed pace when Costner’s desperate rogue is taken prisoner and, through the next twenty minutes, has to escape. Then, seeking shelter in a cave, No Name becomes The Postman when he finds a mailbag with letters strapped to a skeleton.

In order to exist in a “small town” of survivors, complete with a hard nosed sheriff and a wispy love-interest, reminiscent of any old school Western, Costner’s scruffy hero pretends to be a Postman in a world that’s “getting better.” But the problem with Costner’s third epic are the long, dragged-out moments between the action, and the melodramatic score when Postman realizes his importance in rescuing mankind: He was much more intriguing as a reluctant maverick fighting to save his own skin than when he's out to save everyone else’s.
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