I hate being nostalgic about movies, but I do remember a time when imagination was evident in every part of a production, when film posters were dynamic, visceral and iconic, when films looked like they were shot on film and not an HD camera with a sunset tint, when scores were done by orchestras instead of synthesizers and death metal guitars and, most important of all, when the lack of CGI technology forced the filmmakers into achieving visual effects through more practical means. The 1980s were filled with such movies and, looking back, I am glad that I grew up in that decade. Children now are exposed to altogether soulless movies.
Set in the late 21st Century, Enemy Mine has humans reaching out into the depths of space after achieving world peace. But a rival species, the alien race of the Drax, don't take to kindly to humans poking about the galaxy and an interstellar war kicks off. A human pilot (Dennis Quaid) and a lone Drac (Louis Gossett Jnr.) crash land on a remote desert planet and learn, the hard way, to stick together if they want to survive. Despite their ultimate conflict they discover that they are not all that different from each other and neither yet both are to blame for the war.
Enemy Mine suffered from severe problems during production. Apparently the original director, Richard Longcraine (Wimbledon, Richard III), shot the entire film on location in Iceland before being replaced by Wolfgang Petersen who re-shot the whole film all over again but changed the story somewhat in the process. So, in reality, there are two completely different versions of Enemy Mine. One which was released into cinemas that has become a classic in its own right and another that only exists in the vaults of Twentieth Century Fox. I would love to see this alternate cut.
The fantastic photography and production design look very, very good for a film from 1985. Some of the effect shots and matte paintings are simply gorgeous and the cutting between desert locations and desert sets is almost seamless. This isn't like an episode of the original Star Trek series in which the cast simply take a half hour drive to a bit of desert outside of LA, the desert locations with the matte painting backgrounds look utterly authentic.
If you like the look and feel of films like The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth then you'll appreciate the fantasy of Enemy Mine. I know I am going to sound like an old coot but they just don't make films like this anymore. Everything these days seems to be geared towards the average ASBO teenage boy. In ten years time I honestly think that films will be no more than a test card that offends and stimulates no one.
I will consider myself lucky that films like this were once made and that they were a part of my formative years.