Enemy Mine (1985)

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Enemy Mine (1985)

Post  BoG on Tue Oct 07, 2014 8:40 pm

To me, this was a blatant remake of Hell in the Pacific, the 1968 WW2 film starring Lee Marvin & Toshiro Mifune about two soldiers stuck on an island; they were from opposite sides but were forced to work together. The premise of this sci-fi version is similar and overall it's very simple: narration by star Dennis Quaid explains that the nations of Earth finally  began to work together in the late 21st century towards the goal of space exploration. But, new wars began again with "non-Human" aliens (as if there are also human aliens in outer space according to this film - the Star Trek influence is also apparent).  Quaid's pilot soldier, Will, crashlands on a planet after a scuffle in space and immediately notes that an enemy alien has also crashed about a mile away. This alien is known as a Drac, played by Lou Gossett Jr. in heavy make-up.  The planet is apparently inhabited only by primitive lifeforms.
Will walks over to the Drac's crash site and attempts to kill him but fails, instead getting captured.  Will's enmity towards the Drac is obvious but the Drac doesn't kill him for some reason.  Then, during one of the frequent meteorite showers, the Drac drags Will to safety in a cave. So, Will also refrains from killing the Drac when he frees himself. He reasons that they must work together to survive.  Their mutual hatred soon evolves to good-natured ribbing and later to actual respect.  Months pass as they deal with local predators and the meteorites. After about a year, Will decides to explore another part of the planet; he finds an abandoned human mining operation, but his hopes of rescue are dashed when he realizes that these are lowlife scavengers who use Dracs as slave labor. Journeying back to his buddy, he finds that the Drac is pregnant (Dracs are asexual, becoming pregnant without choice).

Things come to  a head when  their shelter is destroyed and the Drac has to give birth. By this point, the film has veered away from the expected - Will ends up raising the Drac child as a couple of more years pass.  Unfortunately, the outlaw miners return to their mining site and, despite Will's instruction, the little Drac has a lot of curiosity about them - this does not go well. This film is an attempt at a real sci-fi saga, spanning years, and there is indeed enough material here for a mini-series, so the final act especially seems rushed.  Somehow, Will is found by the BTA (the future Earthling society) after all those years of no contact with fellow humans and then it's a rush job to return and rescue his foster son.  The obvious theme is the, ahem, humanizing of an enemy once you get to know them.  Will becomes much more enlightened by the end compared to what he was, including in his role of a father (or "Uncle" as he's called).  It all tells us that war is wasteful.

One weakness to me was a lot of the set design in the early going on the planet, where it all comes across as a movie set (possibly related to a fitful stop-and-start to the filming when director Wolfgang Petersen took over from others). Other later scenes are obviously location filming and have more of a reality to them.  The early space scenes also have the look of phoniness about them - sort of like what a kid might envision outer space to look like, with colorful planets-as-play balls situated next to each other. For some reason, the visuals are better later in the film.  I'm also not a fan of Gossett's gargling speech patterns; it gets irritating after a time, even as one gets used to understanding all that he's saying.  The evil miners, led by Brion James, are kind of hammy. Overall, though, it's a game attempt at interesting social commentary in a sci-fi setting, including exposition on an alien culture's philosophy and beliefs.  BoG's Score: 7 out of 10
Enemy Trivia:
Lance Kerwin is in a small role in the first act as Quaid's co-pilot; he was a teen star on TV in the late seventies (James at 15, Salem's Lot)
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