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Enemy Mine

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    C.D. Workman
    Senior Member

  • Enemy Mine



    Released by: Eureka Classics
    Released on: June 20, 2016
    Directed by: Wolfgang Petersen
    Cast: Dennis Quaid, Louis Gossett Jr., Brion James, Richard Marcus, Carolyn McCormick, Bumper Robinson, Jim Mapp, Lance Kerwin
    Year: 1985

    The Movie:

    In the latter part of this century, a war has broken out between rival species from different planets: the humans, represented by Willis Davidge (Dennis Quaid); and the Dracs, represented by Jeriba Shiban (Louis Gossett Jr.). When Jeriba crash lands on an unknown planet, Davidge follows, intent on killing his enemy. Instead, he's quickly taken hostage in the hostile terrain. Slowly, the two sentient beings begin to learn each other's language, and soon they're working together to survive meteor strikes, weird alien creatures, and snowstorms. After a while, Davidge decides to leave their makeshift home in search of an escape route from the planet, but while he does find evidence of human visitation, he fails to find an escape route. When he returns to Jeriba, he learns that his reptilian friend is pregnant. (Many questions arise from this, none of which are answered by the script.) After Jeriba dies in childbirth, Davidge must raise the child, Zammis, alone. The two quickly bond, but that bond is threatened when human scavengers visit the planet to raid its natural resources. Zammis is captured and enslaved, and Davidge must risk his own life to save his little 'nephew.'

    Enemy Mine had a troubled production. When it became evident to Fox executives that original director Richard Loncraine was failing to craft something that could be sold to audiences, he was terminated and replaced by Wolfgang Petersen. Filming was moved from Budapest to Germany, and the budget more than doubled its original price tag. Finally, when the film was released in time for Christmas 1985, it proved a resounding box office flop, not even making back half is costs in its entire domestic theatrical run. It's possible that the trailer didn't help things any; it not only gives away every single surprise, it also telegraphs the film's heavy-handed approach to issues of race and nationality. That the film is a metaphor is evident from the outsight, and Petersen fails to elicit any kind of nuance from the script. The result is an overly long message picture, albeit one with a fairly attractive, 1950s-style sci-fi look. The special effects may not be state of the art for their time, but they do manage to evoke a certain nostalgia for the science fiction films of the past. And despite a rather lengthy running time, the film is entertaining enough.

    Basically a two-man show, Enemy Mine has Quaid and Gossett Jr. acting off each other in the manner of a theater play. Academy Award-winner Gossett is phenomenal from the outset, while Quaid has to grow into his role. Where the film begins to fall apart is with the misstep of having Gossett die off a little over halfway through. The loss of such an interesting performance delivers so severe a blow that the film never recovers, and the final, action-packed reel feels remarkably out of place. What Petersen should have gone for was a small, dramatic, art-house approach.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Eureka has released Enemy Mine as part of its classics line. Placed on a BD50 for a higher bit-rate (not a bad idea, given how long it is), the film is presented with an MPEG-4 AVC encode in 1080p high definition. The film's aspect ratio is approximately 2.35:1 per its original theatrical release. The transfer appears identical to that supplied by Fox for Twilight Time's Blu-ray (released as a limited edition of 3000 units in October 2012 and long since sold out). For the most part, the BD is super-sharp, revealing exactly where the alien makeup begins and ends on actors' faces despite top-notch artistry. Even when the film utilizes optical effects for the outer space and battle sequences, detail remains strong and colors are striking, so much so that they approximate the look of a 1950s sci-fi film. Grain is mostly organic, with no evidence that noise reduction or sharpening tools have been used. In a few instances, mostly in dark sequences, the grain becomes a little more pronounced, but it's never all that distracting. There is a slight loss of detail during these sequences, but nothing viewers should worry about. (It should be noted that the film has always been dark in spots, from theatrical exhibitions to previous home video incarnations.) A bigger problem are the occasional sequences in which the image becomes soft, which has nothing to do with whether a scene is bright or dark. This doesn't happen often, but when it does, there's an appreciable loss of detail. In general, however, the film looks fantastic and is well worth an upgrade for fans who missed out on Twilight Time's release.

    For the film's primary soundtrack, Eureka has opted for English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0, which works wonders with the dialogue, score, and sound effects. Dialogue is always clear and easy to understand, while effects are nicely directional. Overall, the track is significantly rendered with an appropriately dynamic range. For those who are purists, there's also an alternate English LPCM 2.0 mix, which is also nice despite being more limited in aural scope. Included as an extra is a music and effects only track, also in LPCM 2.0. For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, optional English subtitles are included.

    Apart from the music and effects track, there are two extras: a trailer, which runs approximately 2 minutes; and a deleted scene, which runs approximately 3 minutes. The former does not contain optional English subtitles but the latter does. The deleted scene is from late in the film, as Davidge's body undergoes testing and healing; it was also culled from a German-language print.

    The BD release comes with a collector's booklet, but this was not provided to R!S!P! for review.

    The Final Word:

    Enemy Mine is a heavy-handed but entertaining take on racism and xenophobia masked as futuristic, interplanetary science fiction. Eureka's transfer is spot on, with a super-sharp image that falters only sparingly and never during the special effects sequences, which remain colorful and detailed. Extras include a trailer, a deleted scene, and a music and effects track. Not bad for a film that failed at the box office but has since found a cult audience on home video and in syndication.

    Note: The disc is locked to Region B.

    Christopher Workman is a freelance writer, film critic, and co-author (with Troy Howarth) of the Tome of Terror horror film review series. Volume 2 of that series (covering the 1930s), is currently available, with Volume 1 (covering the silent era) due out later this year.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!




















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