STARRING: Dennis Quaid, Louis Gossett Jr., Brion James, Richard Marcus, Lance Kerwin

1985, 108 Minutes, Directed by: Wolfgang Petersen

enemy.jpg (10606 bytes)Description: Lizard-like Draconian Louis Gossett Jr. and his mortal enemy, earthling Dennis Quaid, crash-land on a hostile planet during a brutal space battle. Forced to rely on one another for survival, they overcome their differences and become fast friends.

Enemy Mine suffers from what can be called the Sleepless in Seattle school of film-making: there must be a happy ending at all costs! Which is rather strange since the film was directed by German import Wolfgang Petersen (also director of The NeverEnding Story) who gave us Das Boot which had the worst ending possible - and was much more all the memorable and powerful because of it! But other possibly great sci-fi films also suffer from the Sleepless in Seattle school: The Abyss and Strange Days are perhaps the best examples in the genre. Because Enemy Mine insists on its happy (and extremely unlikely!) ending, the film suffers because of it.

It starts off as one of the more interesting sci-fi stories we have seen in quite a while. A human and an alien star fighter pilot are stranded on a hostile planet. Both are from opposing sides and when the film started we saw them (obviously) trying to blast each other from the sky.

However, to survive the planet with its hostile creatures, bad weather and regular meteor storms they find that they have to co-operate in order to survive. Sure, the story is as old as they come: replace the setting with that of two fighter pilots in WWII, let's say one American and the other Japanese, and you know the rest. But at a point in Enemy Mine one doesn't know how the several plot issues it throws up will be resolved.

Maybe that is the problem: the script-writers didn't know either and instead relied on some very unlikely deux ex machina plot mechanisms. And this is sad. The film boasts some excellent acting, a real science fiction premise, interesting production designs (actually the special effects doesn't go for the Star Wars hardware look, but rather a 1930s pulp Buck Rogers look) and some excellent alien make-up.

If you're into Asimov or Clarke or any of the golden age of sci-fi, then you should see Enemy Mine, because despite its many faults it's still a far better sci-fi movie than many of the so-called "sci-fi" movies (Independence Day comes to mind) thrown at us by Hollywood in recent times.

Nonetheless, the film's biggest problem is that, unlike many of the sci-fi luminaries mentioned here, it doesn't know what to do with its material.


Sci-Fi Movie Page Pick: Lame ending, good acting, gripping. More sci-fi than anything recently thrown in our direction, Enemy Mine ultimately suffers from an extremely unlikely ending. However, if your literary tastes includes "hard" sci-fi such as Asimov and Clarke, then you'll be, er, hard-pressed to find a better way to spend two hours of your life.


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