- Movie Rating -

Enemy Mine (1985)

| December 20, 1985

Enemy Mine reminds me of the kinds of science fiction that I read as a child in books as varied as “A Wrinkle in Time” and “Starship Troopers.”  It’s simple enough to digest but intelligent enough to be about more than just ray guns and starships.  I like that approach because it gives the material a sense of childlike wonder.  I think kids will love it.

The movie takes place a century from now on a volcano planet called Fyrine IV, the kind of landscape that that Chesley Bonestell might have envisioned if he set his work on fire.  There are two warring factions: we humans and the lizard-like Drac.  Two pilots crash land on this hellscape, one from each side.  The human is Davidge (Dennis Quaid) and the Drac is the alien (Lou Gossitt, Jr. under a ton of makeup).  They hate each other, distrust each other, and initially give in to their natural urge to want to kill each other.  Eventually, though, they grow to learn from each other and even become friends.

That you expect.  What is special about Enemy Mine is the way in which Drac is developed.  Their speech patterns are made up of a lot of clicks and groans that are as fascinating as any found in Star Wars, and so too is the idea that this species has both sexes in the same body.  That leads to a very interesting child birth scene and the emergence of a Drac child that is about as cute as an reptile alien can be.  Both Davidge and the Drac are defined by more than their circumstances.  Communication becomes a challenge and eventually a bonding agent from all of the tension.

Those scenes make up the best parts of this movie.  What isn’t as thrilling is the third act which boils down to bad guys who want to kill the Drac and Davidge’s attempts to save him.  There is a warehouse fight, the bad guys, the slavery of the aliens and the belated rescue by the cavalry, which are scenes developed with some polish, but I got the feeling that it was done much better in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.  That doesn’t discount this movie. I just wish the ending had a little more originality.

I don’t hold the third act against the film.  I liked it very much.  I liked the characters, I liked the Drac, I liked a great deal of the film.  Even with it’s flaws I give Wolfgang Petersen points for at least trying to create a sense of wonder and excitement.  It doesn’t completely work, but I enjoyed it.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1985) View IMDB Filed in: Sci-Fi/Fantasty