Today I watched Wolfgang Peterson’s Enemy Mine (1985)
In the near future humans have begun colonizing space, but this has brought them into conflict wit the Drac race of reptilian extra-terrestrials. Dennis Quaid plays Will Davitch, a fighter pilot with the Human space forces who engages in a dogfight above the fourth world of the Fyrene system. During the battle he and a Drac ship crash land on the planet which turns out to be quite inhospitable. Davitch and the Drac pilot, whose name is Jeriba are at first obviously hostile, but a meteor shower forces them to cooperate and as the planet continues to unveil new threats, they are forced to put their trust in each other and learn to work together.
The message here is pretty obvious, when two seemingly alien sides are forced to come together, they just might realize that they have more in common than they think, thus exposing one of the basic criticisms of warfare. Deep down the individual has very basic needs that are fairly universal to all life forms, but war is this abstract thing which happens for the most complex of reasons and it is not for soldiers to understand this. So the film asks what might happen if two strangers on the field of battle began to question their place in it.
Aside from this basic premise, Enemy Mine brings it’s universe to life with some really great special effects and some very solid performances from Quaid and Louis Gosset Jr. who plays Jeriba. The look of the film is heavily inspired by the old school ray gun and robot style sci fi and this might make it hard to take seriously among some audiences. The bombastic adventure movie style score is also a little too excessive for the intimacy of the plot. This leads to an inconsistency of tone as humorous moments and dramatic ones don’t quite blend as well as they could. That being said the film still manages to express the emotions it needs to when it needs them.
Enemy Mine is a bizarre and entertaining film that takes the tropes of the older B-movie style and wrings a surprisingly coherent theme from the style. It is quite emotional for how hokey it can be at times and between these two modes it finds room for plenty of effective humour. The film has a strangely loose tone because of the jarring music and the aforementioned humour which may work for some more than others, but I think if you have the capacity to see the seriousness in the silly, this is a fine film indeed. You have to watch the film on it’s own terms because it is so unique, but it ends up being quite a rewarding watch that offers plenty of unique and memorable images and moments for your time. 4/5