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Want to make a movie with social commentary, and then make it palatable to a large audience? Well then, you best bet is to package it as science fiction. Social commentary has been laced into science fiction, as long as the genre has existed. You can find it in literature in the writings of H.G. Wells (as well as many others), as well as in films such as THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL and INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, and finally in all of the STAR TREK television series. Therefore, it comes as little surprise that a film like ENEMY MINE ($25) shows an audience that those we perceive to be our enemies are little different from us, even if the face of such an enemy is totally alien.

ENEMY MINE takes place in a future in which mankind has begun its conquest of space by laying its claims to numerous alien worlds. As one might have guessed, mankind is not alone in the cosmos and their expansion into space has lead to a war with a race of beings know as the Drac, that also claim many of the same worlds. During one of the battles, a fighter pilot from each side crash-lands on an uninhabited planet, where they continue their attempts to annihilate one another. Because of the planet's inhospitable environment, the two enemies soon realize that they will need each other if either one of them is to survive. Although, their relationship begins out of necessity, each of the two antagonists eventually come to see the other as a person, which causes them to realize that their similarities outweigh their differences. ENEMY MINE stars Dennis Quaid as the Human pilot Willis Davidge and Louis Gossett Jr. as the Drac, whom Davidge dubs "Jerry." Both actors quite do well fleshing out their roles, making their characters credible and likable. Gossett, who is unrecognizable in his role, deserves extra praise for having to overcome heavy prosthetic makeup to bring the character to life. Although director Wolfgang Petersen does a great job with the material, too much of the alien world looks as though it were shot on a soundstage, which works against the audience’s ability to suspend disbelief. In addition to the two leads, the cast of ENEMY MINE also includes Brion James, Richard Marcus, Carolyn McCormick and Bumper Robinson.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made ENEMY MINE available on DVD in a wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Framed at 2.35:1, the transfer is really great, which makes this 1985 film release look better than I expected it to. The good looking is image is sharp and very well defined. Because of the excellent definition of the transfer, the studio bound alien landscapes become all the more obvious and some of the special effects shots appear outdated. Colors are quite vivid on this release and are reproduced with maximum stability and no signs of chromatic distortion. Human flesh tones look good, as I would image the drac (although I have no other point of reference). Blacks are accurately rendered, plus the picture produces a very good level of shadow detail and smooth contrast. This well authored DVD doesn't display any appreciable digital compression artifacts.

Since ENEMY MINE predates discrete surround encoding, the original sound mix has been transcribed to Dolby Digital 4.0 from the original stems. Dolby Surround had its limitations and those limitations are somewhat evident in the existing sound mix. Sure, the dialogue is fully intelligible, but it isn't as lifelike as a new recording. Directional sound effects remain in the forward soundstage, with the surround channels providing occasional back to front activity. Ambient sound and musical fill are the mainstays of the monaural rear channels. Maurice Jarre's score sounds pretty good, but there are frequency limitations that keep it from having a full and transparent musical quality. There is no separate bass channel in the 4.0 mix, but at least there is enough low frequency information fed to the main speakers keep the mix from sounding anemic. English and French Dolby Surround soundtracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and Spanish subtitles.

The basic interactive menus allow one to access the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a couple of extras. A theatrical trailer and three production stills are the only extras that pertain to the feature. Bonus trailers for other Fox sci-fi DVDs are also included on the DVD.

ENEMY MINE is an entertaining bit of social commentary dressed up to look like a science fiction movie. The DVD looks great and sounds reasonably good, so fans should be pretty happy in picking up the disc.


Enemy Mine


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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