Enemy Mine | Chicago Reader

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Director Wolfgang Petersen has packed a little bit of everything into this SF tale about an American fighter pilot (Dennis Quaid) and an enemy alien (Lou Gossett, in reptilian makeup that suggests the Creature From the Black Lagoon on a bigger budget) who are stranded together on a desolate planet and overcome their prejudices to become friends. You've probably already recognized the plot of The Defiant Ones, but there's also a dose of gooey horror out of Alien, some infant-centered whimsy on loan from E.T., and an outer space shoot-out from Outland. In trying to cover so many bets, Petersen has created a film without an identifiable style or subject of its own. Shot largely on elaborate studio sets in Germany's Bavaria Studios, and augmented with some lovely matte paintings from Industrial Light & Magic, the film has the same artificial, claustrophobic feel that defined Petersen's Das Boot and The NeverEnding Story; it's distinctive and not displeasing, but Petersen has yet to use his atmospheric talents to truly expressive ends. Still, it's nice to see a piece of leftist pulp (the film's antiimperialist, antiracist message is bluntly but forcibly developed) to counter all the rightist fantasies of the Rambo mold (1985).

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