Waterworld is a 1995 post-apocalyptic science fiction film. The film was directed by Kevin Reynolds and co-written by Peter Rader and David Twohy. It is based on Rader's original 1986 screenplay and stars Kevin Costner, who also produced it. It was distributed by Universal Pictures. The film was the follow-up project to the last collaboration between Kevin Costner and Kevin Reynolds, who previously worked together on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves in 1991. The setting of the film is the distant future. Although no exact date was given in the film itself, it has been suggested that it took place in 2500. The polar ice caps have completely melted, and the sea level has risen many thousands of feet (hundreds of meters), covering virtually all the land. The film illustrates this with an unusual variation on the Universal logo, which begins with the usual image of Earth, but shows the planet's water levels gradually rising until virtually all the land is submerged. The plot of the film centers on an otherwise nameless antihero, "the Mariner", a drifter who sails the Earth in his trimaran. Waterworld was released to mixed reviews, despite being moderately successful at the international box office. The film's release was accompanied by a tie-in novel and video game, and also three popular themed attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Singapore and Universal Studios Japan based on the film, called Waterworld: A Live Sea War Spectacular, which are all still running as of 2010.
In the future, the polar ice caps have melted, and the sea level has risen hundreds of meters (thousands of feet), covering every continent. An antihero drifter known only as "the Mariner" (Kevin Costner), sails the seas in his trimaran. He enters an artificial atoll seeking to trade dirt, which is now a precious commodity. It is later revealed that he is a mutant with webbed feet and gills, an evolutionary step to accommodate the changes in climate. The fearful atollers vote to "recycle" him by drowning him in a yellow sludge brine pool. At that moment pirates, known as "Smokers", raid the atoll, as they were tipped off by a Smoker spy posing as a trader (Gerard Murphy), known as "the Nord." The Smokers are searching for an orphan girl named Enola, who has what appears to be a map and directions to Dryland tattooed on her back. The girl and her caretaker, Helen (Jeanne Tripplehorn), the atoll's shopkeeper, plan to escape with Gregor (Michael Jeter), the atoll's expert inventor, in the hopes of finding Dryland. Unfortunately, Gregor's escape method, a hot air balloon made of old rags, launches too early with him on it, leaving Helen and Enola stranded. Instead, they escape with the Mariner, who agrees to take them with him as they saved his life. He is ill at ease with their company, though, as he prefers solitude, and he finds them to be a nuisance. Chasing them is "the Deacon" (Dennis Hopper), who is the captain of a derelict oil tanker, the Exxon Valdez, and the leader of the Smokers. He wants the map to Dryland and has a number of skirmishes with the Mariner while trying to get Enola. After Helen's naive actions during a battle with the Smokers results in significant damage to the Mariner's boat, he angrily cuts their hair very short. After this incident, however, the Mariner gradually warms up to them, and teaches Enola to swim. Helen, convinced that Dryland exists, demands to know where the Mariner finds his dirt. The Mariner, able to breathe underwater, puts her in a diving bell, and swims down to the ruins of Denver. While they are underwater, the Deacon and his Smokers board the boat. The Mariner and Helen escape as the Deacon burns it and captures Enola. Since Helen cannot breathe underwater, the Mariner breathes for the both of them, resulting in an underwater kiss of life. They resurface and board the wreckage of the Mariner's trimaran, where they are later rescued by Gregor. He takes them to a new makeshift atoll where the survivors of the first atoll attack have regrouped. Using a jet ski, the Mariner chases down the Exxon Valdez and boards it. There, the Deacon is having a celebration, tossing gifts of cigarettes and Spam to the crew, proclaiming they have found the map to Dryland. After they have all gone below decks to row, the Mariner walks out onto the deck and threatens to drop a flare into the oil reserves unless the Deacon releases Enola. The Deacon, believing that the Mariner is bluffing, refuses. The Mariner drops the flare into the vent leading to the oil reserves. The ship explodes, and the Mariner escapes with Enola by climbing a rope up to Gregor's balloon. The Deacon, still alive, makes a grab for Enola, but Helen throws a metal object which strikes him in the forehead, causing him to fall into the water. He then pulls out his pistol and shoots at the balloon, hitting one of the lines, causing Enola to fall into the sea. The Deacon and two other Smokers, all on jet skis, converge on Enola. The Mariner ties a rope around his ankle and bungee jumps down to grab Enola, pulling her out of the water just as the jet skis collide and explode. Gregor figures out the map, translating the Asian symbols using an old and tattered China Airlines magazine, and realises they are latitude and longitude coordinates and steers his balloon in that direction. The group indeed finds Dryland, which turns out to be the peak of Mount Everest, which is still above sea level. Gregor, Enola, Helen and the others land on the island and find the skeletons of Enola's parents. They then begin civilization anew on the island, but the Mariner decides he must leave. Enola, saddened to hear the Mariner is going, asks why. He explains that he does not belong on land, and that the ocean, his only home, calls to him. He builds a new, wooden boat on the beach and sails off.