By Chaz Lipp
With all the hysteria surrounding their recent Blu-ray release of Tom Savini’s 1990 Night of the Living Dead, it’s nice to see Twilight Time back in their element with Enemy Mine. Not that the Living Dead Blu-ray is nearly as problematic as some of the more ardent detractors might have you believe. It features a transfer made by Sony that altered the color timing and overall brightness levels, giving the film a moodier, sometimes blue-tinted appearance. Revisionist, yes. Understandably upsetting for fans of the film? Yes. Bad product? I’ve argued no.
No such controversy accompanies Wolfgang Petersen’s 1985 sci-fi character study, Enemy Mine. As is customary for Twilight Time, this edition is limited to 3,000 copies. Unlike the Living Dead, which also carried an official release date of October 9, this one hasn’t sold out yet and can still be ordered exclusively at Screen Archives. What they’ve delivered with Enemy Mine is a rock solid, high definition picture that accurately matches the film’s original look. The Drac makeup worn by Lou Gossett Jr. has never looked more vivid. The 4.0 DTS-HD mix is also a great representation of the filmmakers’ original presentation, albeit with greater clarity.
I’ve never been wild about the film itself, though I appreciate its sentiments. Dennis Quaid stars alongside Gossett in this tale of understanding, tolerance, and respect. Quaid is Will Danvidge, a hot-headed – and very much human – fighter pilot engaged in in a fierce spacebound dogfight with an alien race called the Dracs. The story is set, of course, in the future. Humans and Dracs are born enemies. But when Will and a Drac named Jeriba (Gossett) crash land on a strange, uninhabited planet, the two must learn to live and work together.
Both Quaid and Gossett have subtle fun with their roles (Will convinces Jeriba that Mickey Mouse is humankind’s spiritual leader). They learn each other’s language and come to respect each other’s culture. If anything, it may all be a little too human-centric in a way. It turns out that Jeriba is more human-like than Will is Drac-like, by quite a wide margin. I would’ve liked to know a little more about what makes the Dracs tick, besides the queasy fact that they sponaneously conceive children asexually. In fact, Jeriba reveals midway through that he is pregnant and the film takes an entirely different direction.
Critics and movie fans seem awfully divided on this one. I think it’s certainly remains watchable after 27 years, but in the end its message is a bit trite. Plus the special effects haven’t aged as well as the Drac makeup appliances. There aren’t a ton of space scenes, but when we do see spaceships flying around it looks pretty unconvincing. I didn’t ever feel I was truly looking at an alien world either, as the sets look like, well, sets.
In addition to strong audio/visual presentation, Twilight Time has included Maurice Jarre’s score as an isolated track. The Blu-ray booklet has an essay with some good information about what was actually a pretty troubled (and way over-budget) production. Definitely worth snagging while it’s still available, if you’re a fan of the film.