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Enemy Mine
cast: Dennis Quaid, Louis Gossett Jr, Brion James, and Lance Kerwin

director: Wolfgang Petersen

104 minutes (12) 1985
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
20th Century Fox DVD Region 2 retail
[released 3 June]

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Steven Hampton
This space castaway drama (based on a story by Barry Longyear) is an SF version of John Boorman's Hell In The Pacific (1968), inspired by Robinson Crusoe. As such, there's no avoiding comparison with Byron Haskin's Robinson Crusoe On Mars (1964) and yet, in spite of all these genre and literary associations, German director Wolfgang Petersen's story of tolerance and unlikely friendship is still an entertaining film, one that's emotionally intense without being too melodramatic or sentimental.
   During an interstellar war, space fighter pilots from opposing battle fleets are stranded together on the unexplored and inhospitable alien world of Fyrine IV. In no time at all, human spacer Davidge (Quaid), and reptilian drac, Jeriba - alias Jerry (Gossett), are trying to kill one another to follow the dictates of prejudice and propaganda their respective races have given them. Slowly these bitter enemies overcome the language barrier that hinders co-operation, and work together to ensure mutual survival. Their antagonistic jibes of 'toadface' and 'irkman' are set aside when frequent meteor storms and indigenous life threaten both of their lives. There's also the matter of the drac race's hermaphrodite reproductive cycle. Davidge becomes an uncle to the orphaned offspring and must return this young alien to its home world...
   Dennis Quaid had starred in psychic thriller Dreamscape (1984), and went on to his breakthrough role as a cop in The Big Easy (1986), before returning to genre SF for Innerspace (1987). Here, he's on good form, especially when playing opposite his co-star, black actor Louis Gossett. Gossett does an excellent job playing the lizard-like alien dubbed 'Jerry' by his human friend. The actor's hissing and purring to suggest an alien language makes this a film that the creators of Star Trek and Star Wars ought to study more closely. When Davidge makes an attempt to learn the drac's culture and philosophy, the drama becomes mystery for the planet squatters, but later events move too quickly.
   The birth of baby drac, Zammis (Bumper Robinson), and subsequent human education only ensure the bond between man and alien child will cause Davidge to rescue his young 'nephew' from scavenger villains (led by Brion James, playing OTT evil scum of the universe) using aliens as slave labour in their secret mine on Fyrine IV. The finale has a rushed air that's at odds with the slower pace of earlier scenes, and this detracts from much of the thought-provoking SF elements. What makes Enemy Mine an unforgettable film is the excellent design work and superb cinematography, by Rolf Zehetbauer and Tony Imi, respectively. Their use of rich colour schemes helps to create a fantastic milieu for the story, both on and off the alien planet.
   DVD extras: scope presentation with Dolby digital 4.0 sound (in English, Italian or French), three photos, original trailer, extended scene (three minutes) in ratio 4:3 from the German TV version.