Enemy Mine (1985)
Hell in Space
Following another dog fight with the Drax enemy, Willis Davidge (Dennis Quaid) crashes down on a planet, the only survivor from his fighter. At the same time Jeriba 'Jerry' Shigan (Louis Gossett Jr.) the Drax enemy also crashes. Programmed to hate each other Davidge's initial plan is to kill Jerry but both realise that in order to survive they will need each other leading to an unlikely friendship as Davidge realises that Jerry is both male and female.
"Enemy Mine" is one of those movies which starts of as one thing but quickly becomes something very different which unless you are grown up to appreciate that something different will end up being disappointing. It was and still is the movie's problem as when I first saw it in the late 80s as a teenager I expected this sci-fi movie with plenty of action and for five minutes that is what I got but then it turns all Robinson Crusoe as Davidge and Jerry must survive on this uninhabited planet. But not only that as we also have this relationship drama where enemies become not just friends but emotionally close which means Jerry has to be humanized for them to be able to communicate. This drama about friendship whilst admittedly clever is not what I was expecting when I was a teenager during the 80s and whilst the Robinson Crusoe drama entertained overall I felt let down.
Visually "Enemy Mine" is a bit of curiosity as it starts with a space dogfight with effects not too dissimilar to those in "Star Wars" and part of the reason why when it changes track you end up feeling let down. Yet when Davidge and Jerry find them selves stranded on this alien planet it has the look of a 1960s space adventure where creatures scurry across the alien terrain and you have dangers from monsters which lurk beneath the planet's sandy floor. There is no doubt that visually "Enemy Mine" is very good and a welcome distraction from the drama especially when you have scenes of the vast landscape against a fiery setting sun,
As for the acting well "Dennis Quaid" is his solid 80s self but not as full on as in some movies. Yet Quaid is in some ways part of the movie's problem as it is hard to take him seriously when it comes to emoting the depth of character and when they have him bearded and long haired after months on the planet it looks far too biblical. Then there is Louis Gossett Jr. who spends the entire movie behind a full body costume and does a brilliant job of giving Jerry a very unique personality. Or at least that is to start with because once Jerry is humanised so that we can have this friendship so much of his unique personality is lost.
What this all boils down to is that "Enemy Mine" isn't a bad movie, in fact visually it is very good but what first appears to be a regular sci-fi/ space movie turns into something less exciting as it focuses on a relationship between a human and alien stuck on a planet.
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