Enemy Mine

Review by David Paul Hellings
@HellingsOnFilm

“Enemies because they were taught to be. Allies because they had to be. Brothers because they dared to be.

From director Wolfgang Petersen (Troy, The NeverEnding Story) comes a tale of two enemies thrown together in a hostile world where to survive they must become allies.

A soldier from Earth crash-lands on an alien world. Eventually he encounters another survivor, but from the enemy species he was fighting; they band together to survive on this hostile world. In the end the human finds himself caring for his enemy in a completely unexpected way.

Starring Dennis Quaid (The Right Stuff, The Day after Tomorrow) and Academy Award Winner Louis Gosset Jr. (An Officer and a Gentleman) this sci-fi adventure is a tale of an unexpected friendship and newly found respect. Eureka Classics presents the film in high-definition for the first time in the UK in a special edition Blu-ray”.

  • via Eureka!

Review:

A victim of internal studio changes, a director fired after a week, and a disastrous marketing strategy upon its release, “Enemy Mine” also found itself being made in an election year that would see the re-election of Ronald Reagan and not much public love for the message of ‘love and befriend thy foe’. “Enemy Mine” bombed at the box office in 1985, a time of ‘make war-war, not jaw-jaw’.

Director Wolfgang Petersen, whose superb “Das Boot” had captured audience imagination with its dark portrayal of a U-Boat and its crew, then followed up with “The Neverending Story”, the latter doing well at the box office, but not so positively with critics. The swift move to the director’s chair on “Enemy Mine” came after Richard Loncraine was replaced due to budgetary and quality concern with the incoming dailies.

Based on writer Barry B Longyear’s novella (forming part of his ‘Enemy’ trilogy), history has been kinder to the film version of “Enemy Mine”. It may initially be a softer variant on John Boorman’s “Hell in the Pacific”, but it pushed a science-fiction film onto the market that offered a vision of brotherhood and working together rather than the seek and destroy politics of the time. This was a human that was prepared to work with the seemingly equally bloodthirsty alien agitator.

These are two beings marooned on a planet that is deadlier than they are. Working together is the only solution. This new release of the film brings a clarity and beauty to the visual nature of the production. The planet looks splendidly mean and we get a renewed sense of how initial audiences would have viewed “Enemy Mine”. It’s a film about friendship, parenthood, surrogacy, adoption, and family and how those values overcome the xenophobia that initially fills the minds of enemies.

Dennis Quaid, as the arrogant Willis Davidge, shows again why he has been respected yet underrated as an actor, seemingly choosing the curiosity pieces rather than the predictable. But, it was an unrecognisable Louis Gossett Jr. as Jeriba Shigan, that stole, and still steals, the acting honours.

“Enemy Mine” fell foul of audiences that were more interested in “Back to the Future”, “Rambo”, and “Rocky IV”. Petersen’s film did, indeed, go against the grain. Its release in an excellent print is welcome and well worth taking a look at again in times when the political world view seemingly hasn’t moved on, in fact, and has actually got worse.

Special Features:

  • Trailer
  • Deleted Scene
  • Collectors Booklet
  • Released via Eureka Classics

This review originally appeared on SFFWorld at:

http://www.sffworld.com/2016/06/film-review-enemy-mine/

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