The Dirt Man
“On this scale though, Waterworld is about the showmanship. Released in 1995, this is one of the final pieces of old Hollywood in the pre-digital age. The ambition of this film cannot be denied. Braving real waters is a catalyst for disaster, and sea salt-corroded metals draw the eye toward their potential peril. Glorious tattered costumes look either overly cluttered or barely useful. Golden skin cracks and peels in each shot. When needed, hundreds of extras rush on a barge, no digital bodies in use.”
There’s not a grandiose improvement over the Blu-ray in terms of raw fidelity/detail. Waterworld appears somewhat fuzzy much of the time, but it’s not a master lacking in definition when at its best. Facial definition shows off in places, with wide shots generally dull. Arrow’s encode handles the grain structure decently with a handful of gaffes, mostly within smoke and haze. Side-by-side though, it’s a minor jump, and likely a 2K scan.
Moderately warm color benefits on UHD. Bronzed flesh tones make sense in context. Flames erupt in a brilliant orange, and water’s blue-ish tinge becomes quite noticeable with the extra oomph.
The major gain for Waterworld comes via Dolby Vision. Sunlight reflects from water brilliantly. When Costner shines a rearview mirror at kids early on, the effect is legitimately blinding. This helps the disc maintain a consistent sense of improvement given the gains in dimensionality.
Note only the theatrical cut is offered in 4K.
A rare occurrence, Arrow includes a brand new Dolby Atmos mic for this double dip, and it’s infinitely better than the flat DTS-HD track of before… if a bit too much. Bass was non-existent on the Blu-ray, and now it’s a brutal, room-shaking powerhouse. Arguably, this is an over correction, lacking balance and nuance, but at least it’s showing range. The rest of the mix is a proper success.
Water is an appropriate constant, splashing in the surrounds and stereos around dialog. It’s specific too. Watch for waves. When seen, they pop in the needed channel. Accuracy is a marvel. Atmos effects in the ship’s underbelly captures grinding gears overhead. Sails creak above the characters as appropriate, and this is all in addition to the great directionality of before.
Major action scenes pepper the stage with bullets and shredded metal. In crowds, screams jump channel to channel. Vehicles pass through speakers flawlessly, especially a bi-plane that begins a full circle pattern. Each speaker catches on something during that attack. Superb stuff.
This three disc set includes a trio of versions. On the first disc is the theatrical cut. Over on the second, a TV cut with 40-minutes of added footage. Disc three includes the fan-made Ulysses cut that fills in some plot holes with additional dialog.
All bonuses reside on disc one, beginning with a fantastic documentary titled Maelstrom. At 102-minutes, it covers the full production (and its troubles) in detail, although sadly doesn’t interview any of the cast. Film critic Glenn Kenny looks at post-eco apocalypse movies and their history in an interesting video essay, running 22-minutes. A ‘90s featurette shows up for the sake of completeness, a nine minute bonus. A gallery and trailers remain.
Full disclosure: This UHD was provided by the label for review. This has not materially affected DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit DoBlu’s about us page.
User Review( votes)
The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 44 full resolution, uncompressed 4K screen shots ripped directly from the UHD: