Enemy Mine – Sean Derbyshire

So I’ve been given an opportunity to expand my horizons and post something a little more different on my blog. Working with various PR agencies, gives me the chance to really create a diverse blog that will keep you, my readers interested. One of these agencies, sent me over a copy of Enemy Mine in Blu Ray. Now I know someone (pretty well), who loves watching films and that’s my housemate Sean. So I gave this dvd to Sean because well…he can definitely do a better job at reviewing it than I could. You may see a few of these popping up every now and again so be sure to keep your eyes peeled if this is for you. Take it away Sean!

Tale as old as time, true as it can be, barely even friends, then you grow to love the alien that you were trying to kill – not quite the love story one might expect. The 1985 film ‘Enemy Mine,’ directed by Wolfgang Peterson (Troy, The Never-ending Story) and starring Dennis Quaid and Louis Gosset Jr., tells the story of a fighter pilot who crash lands and is forced to align himself with the very enemy whom he had intended to destroy. This movie has many enjoyable moments, but fails overall in coherently telling the story that it set out to tell.

It is difficult to distinguish where the flaws originate from; The screenplay, written by Edward Khmara, tries to tell a story of the growth of love and friendship that spans three years. Unfortunately, due to the pacing of the story, the audience is rarely ever allowed to become invested in any particular situation or moment of character development. At times, the film jumps ahead by an unspecified amount of time without allowing for any full resolution of the issue at hand. A prime example of this can be seen in the few scenes in which the two leads are attempting to learn each others language. In one scene, Davidge (Quaid) is trying to communicate with the alien using crude sign language, and in the next they are instantly conversing in reasonably coherent english, denying the audience the ever so popular ‘Me Tarzan, You Jane’ moment, which would have no doubt added to the development of their relationship.

This could, however, be attributed to the choppy editing that sees some pivotal scenes (no spoilers here) ending extremely abruptly, so that the narrative doesn’t flow naturally but jolts forward time after time. Key plot points that would otherwise drive home the film’s theme and message (one of enemies overcoming their prejudices and growing to become friends) lose their impact and believability. In particular, there is a moment early in the film when it is abruptly implied that the two adversaries are suffering from some sort of ‘cabin fever’ but there is nothing leading up to this reveal to even hint at it, leaving it feeling forced. This isn’t to say, however, that there aren’t moments that do hit their mark, as on the rare occasions that the story stays in one place for long enough, we are allowed to see some genuine moments of character development.

Dennis Quaid gives a fairly good, if uneven, performance as the pilot who has to battle his own prejudices in order to work together with his enemy in order to survive. One genuinely feels his connection with his friend in the second act of the film, even if the moments leading up to it feel slightly rushed and at times unnatural. Louis Gosset Jr., on the other hand, gives a fantastic performance as the alien adversary with a much more organic evolution (possibly owing to the writing) and some very well delivered comedic moments. Their on-screen chemistry really shines at times, lending far more weight to moments later in the film when their relationship and care for one another must overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

The music, art design and cinematography are a mixed bag to say the least. The opening credits, for example, accompanied by the score of Maurice Jarr (Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago) is something akin to the opening of Ridley Scott’s Alien, with gravitas and feelings of imminent threat and uncertainty; before long, however, the audience is subjected to a bouncy, almost playful, melody as Davidge attempts to hunt the indigenous life on the planet, creating conflicting tones that do not link cohesively within the narrative.

The special effects leave a fair amount to be desired, with paper-thin spacecraft design and an obvious green screen to create backdrops of the alien world. This is particularly  notable when one considers that revolutionary films such as Blade Runner, The Terminator, ET: The Extra-Terrestrial and of course Star Wars Episode V were released  years prior, and all were filled with such technological innovations that it’s hard to ignore the deficiencies here.

Conversely, certain elements of the art design really impress. The design of Louis Gosset Jr.’s alien is fantastic as are some of the indigenous creatures on the planet. It could be said, however, that the design of the planet might have benefitted from richer flora and fauna, as it did fail to deliver a fully immersive and living environment that such science fiction films are often known for (though this may be attributed to the source material, which I admittedly have not read). The world, while quite barren, does however create that feeling of hostility and danger that believably challenges the characters’ skills of survival.

The cinematography is nothing to write home about. Mostly switching between static shots  and tracking shots with occasional use of wide angle to add an element of diversity. It must also be mentioned that on occasion, the overuse of cuts can be quite jarring when the audience is trying to follow events on screen, particularly in the action scenes.

Overall, ‘Enemy Mine’ suffers from a crisis of identity. Thematically and tonally, the story fluctuates constantly, at one moment hinting at a deeper story of overcoming prejudices and respecting cultural differences, and the next becoming what amounts to a sci-fi ‘buddy comedy.’ Sadly in flirting with both, the movie fails to successfully court either, landing roughly in the middle and delivering an uneven narrative which, while as a whole enjoyable, leaves very little to be remembered after the credits roll.

Reviewed by Sean Derbyshire

Thanks Sean! Be sure to drop him an e-mail for any business enquiries here.

Disclaimer – I was gifted this product in return for my own honest opinion.

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