I saw Kevin Costner's Waterworld this afternoon and I found it to be a pretty interesting and engaging film. The main reasons that the film kept me engaged were:
1. I'm a sucker for pirate films or films involving the ships and oceans, or whatever you call this genre
2. Fast enough pace to keep the action moving as well as good enough action in itself. The film even moved faster than Dances with Wolves and even if you felt Goodfellas was a better film, Dances with Wolves was considered somewhat of a masterpiece. Long epics (Waterworld is over 2 hours) generally have a hard time keeping audiences on their seats.
3. Fairly imaginative blending of genres: pirates picture and sci-fi to create an imaginative world.
4. The chemistry was pretty good between the leads
Really minor point: I don't like Kevin Costner's girly hair style in the picture, but other than that it seemed Terry Gilliam-esque.
This film, of course, is remembered as being a humongous flop and poorly reviewed. It's up there with Gigli on the pantheon of bad films, but you also have to figure that like Gigli, no one actually has seen this film in the last 10 years. Gigli isn't the most hated film in America, because you have to actually watch the film to hate it, and very, very few people watched the film Gigli. It was only out for a week in the theaters and died very quickly, so it didn't have much of a box office take.
The same is probably true for Waterworld, in terms of DVD sales (it did make quite a bit at the box office, just not enough to recoup their costs).
My point: Don't let the media universally decide on your behalf, what a bad film is and what you shouldn't see