30 October 2013

FWS Top Ten: My Favorite Anime

To us old-school fans of Anime and Manga, like me, it is still strange to see the amount of Manga and Anime available in mainstream book stores and online. I've been watching Anime since 1978 and until the mid-1990's, Anime and Manga were underground, and suffered from poor translations and video quality...but I was completely hooked. So much so, by the time I was in high school, I could carry on a basic conversation in Japanese. During those dark years, we got what we could take and afford, and fans were few and far between...unlike today. In the small towns in Oklahoma, where I grew up, Anime fans were few, and often I was the only one with videos to spread the gossip of Japan animation over that Disney shit. Anime has had a huge impact on my life and writing, and I thought I should share my top ten anime works. You will notice that Akira does not appear on this list. And there is a good reason for that. While I read the manga of Akira, I was never impressed with the Anime, it was just too much with annoying characters, and I think it over-hyped.

Back when my family lived in Dallas in the late 1970's, I fortunately enough watch Starblazers, Mobile Suit Gundam and Battle of the Planets on local TV. The series that made the most impression was Starblazers, and for the rest of my life, theme song and the imagine of the Yamato would give me chills. For years, I collected everything Starblazers I could get my hands on. To me, Space Cruiser Yamato was a great story, backed up with impressive space battles, and interesting characters...and of course, Nova. Even today, Starblazers is one of those cherished childhood memories that is getting better because of the remake Space Cruiser Yamato 2199. 

2. ROBOTECH (1985)
Love. That is the one word that I can pick for how feel for this groundbreaking Japaneses/American animation series. This changed my life, and will be forever in my heart for the effect it had on me back in 1985. Even today, I still pop in the saga in my DVD player, and journey back to those heady days of grade school. While Harmony Gold may have cobbled ROBOTECH together from three separate unrelated Anime series, you would never know it by integration of the central storyline. ROBOTECH as been cited as one of those Anime that got the ball rolling for the acceptance of genre in the West. For me, this my favorite Anime, and the most iconic. Now, we just need someone to make The Sentients....I just need the rights, the writers, and the cash...lots of cash.

3. COWBOY BEBOP (1998)
If you are fan of Anime, than Cowboy BeBop belongs somewhere on anyone's list of top Anime...it is just that good. I got to experience Cowboy BeBop in 2011 when a fellow Anime fan and co-worker, Colt, at the TICU loaned me the complete series. Very quickly after popping the DVD in the tray did I understand why this series receives the acclaim and following it has. One of the best and coolest animes ever done.
4. NINJA SCROLL (1995)

When you used to buy Manga Entertainment VHS tapes, there was rad advert opening, showing all of the cool videos Manga had for sale topped off with one of the best KMFDM songs of all time. Soon after watching this opening on my GITS tape, I ran up to Wichita and bought Ninja Scroll, because it looked so cool, and come to find out, it was. Ninja Scroll was written and directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, who also directed Wicked City, Demon City, and Vampire Hunter D, all of which are oddball movies in their own right. If you seen these three works, than you know Kawajiri's passion for demons and strange sex. Seriously...just watch Demon City or Wicked CityNinja Scroll is one of his best, and it helps that the setting is Feudal Japan, one of my favorite historical periods. At one time, Ninja Scroll was the most popular anime OVA next to GITS and Akira. His weird obsession over demons, swords, sex all work in the context of the story and characters of Ninja Scroll. The only issue I have with Ninja Scroll is you better be careful who you watch this with and the semi-sequel containing the main character, which is not a good anime.

5. The Royal Space Force: WINGS OF HONNESAMISE (1987)
This is another anime OVA that bought because of the Manga Entertainment opening to their videos in the 1990's, and unlike Mad Bull 34, Royal Space Force  Wings of Honnesamise was worth the price that I paid back when Suncoast was in business (Man, I miss Suncoast video!). Honnesamise takes place on another world with human-like species that are on the edge of manned space flight while their world's two major superpower kingdoms on the edge of a world war. The two-hour 1987 OVA tells the story of Honnesamise Kingdom's first astronaut, and his trails from failed navy pilot, to lackluster member of the royal space force to the first man in space.
During his rise to historical figure, he meets an ultra-religious woman and the child she cares for, who barely talks. Honnesamise a beautiful, sublime piece of animation with a great story and some major talent behind the production. Honnesamise was able to convince the viewer that it takes place on another world and another culture, while not being "too alien" for the viewer to relate to. The only misstep that the OVA commits is the the religious characters of Riquinni and Manna. Every time the main character escapes to the countryside to see them, the film slows down, and the main character is bogged down in confusion. There was to be a sequel that took place fifty years after the events of the film, but script issues forced the abandonment of the project during pre-production.

Anime, like any other genre, as turning points were a groundbreaking work comes along and changes the game...1995's Ghost in the Shell OVA was such work. Blending CGI and traditional animation to the story based on the epic manga, GITS would forge TV series and several films, but to me, the 1995 OVA is still the best. As a fan of the manga, I also enjoyed the more serious take on the world of GITS and Project 2501. When I first watched this on VHS tape, it was a birthday gift from my brother, and I had only heard about it, but never seen. For that moment on in 1996, Ghost in the Shell would become one of the animes I would enjoy over years of re-watching. One the best credits I can give to GITS that is one of the few animes I've bought on DVD, and will continue to watch and own for many years.

7. BUBBLEGUN CRISIS: 2032 (1987)
I was very lucky that the Ponca City blockbuster carried a limited number of Anime on VHS, and that they specifically carried this one: Bubblegum Crisis. Originally, the series was going to be 13 episodes, but poor sales and disagreement between the two studios that owned the rights, forced BGC to be cut down to eight. While not popular in Japan, it enjoyed success in America. The series follows the adventures of the five members of the Knight Sabers in the post-earthquake Neo-Tokyo in 2032 in their battle against the mega-corporation of Genom. Not only was the series interesting, and fulled with an cool cyberpunk world with tons of BLADE RUNNER references, it had great original rock music that will enter your brain like those worm-things from Star Trek: II The Wrath of Khan. I love this series, despite some cheesiness and plot-holes, but it is filled with memorable characters and events. If you notice, I have not discussed BGC: 2040, because I fucking hate that 1999 series! It is not BGC in my opinion, and lack the magic that the original 2032 series

There is no doubt that one of the most visually impacting anime OVAs is 1999's Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, and I reason I bought this DVD in 2009 was due to the imagine of the red-eyed soldiers, the Kerberos Corps, and their similar to the Helghast soldiers from KillzoneJin-Roh tells the story of alternate post-WWII Japan after the 3rd Reich Occupation. Japan is not a happy place with factions battle for control of Japan's future, and aiding the Japan police force is the heavily armored and armed specially trained police officers. I was surprised how complex, haunting, and bittersweet this movie was after watch Jin-Roh the first time, and the concept of "the wolf brigade" as stayed with me to the point of influencing my book on super-soldiers. Interestingly enough, Jin-Roh OVA is actually near the end of the storyarch of these armored paramilitary police officers. Several over works spanning over different media told the sad story of the Kerberos Corps. Watch for an upcoming Anime Review blogpost on this important Anime!

One of the coolest character in all of anime is Captain Harlock, and one of the better works he was featured in was 1982's Arcadia of my Youth, and that OVA's story was extended for a Japanese TV series called: Endless Orbit SSX. Unlike the original Harlock storyline, here in the 30th century, Captain Harlock is a member of the Solar Federation that is defeated by the Illumidus Empire (green skinned aliens), and Harlock has been making a run shipping Terran civilians from the outer colonies back to Earth, where he is to surrender his Terran warship The Death Shadow. The Illumidus Empire has completely occupied Earth and demanded that all Terrans are relocated to Terra, and the former Solar Federation colonial worlds be for the Empire. During the OVA, much of the elements of the Harlock universe are spelled out, along with the lost of his eye. Overall, Arcadia of my Youth is the best Harlock anime, and despite a few issues, was an enjoyable film to watch over and over. Due to the extreme expensive of the old Arcadia of my Youth AKA My Youth in Arcadia,  had the Vengance of the Space Pirate VHS tape, and sometimes, I wish I hadn't got rid of it.

10. CAT SHIT ONE (2010)
Funny title, eh? Cat Shit One is the anime of the 1990's military manga Apocalypse Meow by Motofumi Kobayashi that took place in the Vietnam War and in the early 1980's. The spin on this work is that humans are substituted by animals, Rabbits from Americans, Camels for Arabs, Cats for the Vietnamese, and so on, similar to Maus. In 2010, CG animation house IDA created Cat Shit One  that was intended to be a ongoing series, exploring the modern military adventures of Sgt. Packy and Botasky during War on Terror. So far, this is the only episode released. The animation is simply amazing, and the story is simple, but effective. The only bad element is potions of the dialog and the English voice-acting, Both could use work. By the way, for those that have wondered where my Xbox Live gamertag (Packy CSONE) comes from...wonder no longer.

27 October 2013

FWS News Flash: Bug Hunting in COD: GHOSTS?!

Okay, I just became more excited over the next Call of Duty game, because it seems that the mode hinted for a few months will be in game! Infinity Ward decided not to continue with Special Ops and we all knew that it was being replaced by another mode, similar to zombies. And what is cooler than zombies to us fans of MSF? Insect-like aliens! And Call of Duty: GHOSTS is going to have them in a special gameplay mode called "Extinction"! Much like Zombies in the Black Ops games, you and friends will hunt and be chased by badass aliens that are there to rip your lungs out, and your goal is to survive and achieve the objectives...which could be killing their hives! I am super fucking excited about me and my buddies bug-hunting multiply alien species in a COD environment....now where did I leave my M41a1 Pulse Rifle?!

25 October 2013

FWS Topics: The Top Ten Myths about Military Science FIction

Since I was six, I've been writing stories about far future conflict among the stars, and even today, on the edge of 40, I still write stories of future wars. Throughout these years of writing, I've come across a number of myths and preconceived notions concerning the world of military science fiction. In a nod to a similar io9.com post about the Top Ten myths of Sci-fi, I decided it was high time for FWS to discuss and dispel the top ten rumors of military science fiction.

1. Humans are Always the Good Guys
Characters like Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon established a trend that has existed in science fiction for some time: humans are noble beings, bringers of light and goodness to the universe, and they always wore the white hat. However, in the realm of military sci-fi (and the real world), the real enemy can be mankind. With MSF works like Avatar, Battlestar Galactica, Old Man's War, KillzoneThe Forever War, and Soldier, we seen the evil within the soul of man. To believe that humanity will overcome its savage impulses with the invention of space travel, as Star Trek holds to, is most likely wrong, especially if we explore space to exploit the natural resources of other world to benefit humanity.
In addition, all we have to do is examine recent human history to understand how much humans can be bastards to one another (don't even get me started on how humans treat animals...fuckers). With groups like the KKK, Nazis, the Khmer Rouge, the Taliban, the Janjaweed, and the forced removal of the Native Tribes by the American government. Being from Oklahoma, I've seen the result of how evil humans can be to one another when they want something you have. Maybe that is why the aliens are staying away? Hell, most of the (Space Nazi) Imperials seen onscreen in Star Wars were humans...makes you wonder.

2. Aliens are Always the Bad Guys
According to the old ways of science fiction, when the rocketship lands on the brave new world, the aliens are to blasted with the ray-guns on full-zap power. This plays out with the old standard that humans are good, and the aliens are evil. However, that is not always the case, and military sci-fi stories of future wars are not always the good humans against the evil aliens. If we examine Star Wars, the evil Galactic Empire was mostly made up of Corellians (humans), and the Rebel Alliance is mostly made of a vast collection of sentient species from around the galaxy.
In the 1985 military sci-fi forgotten classic, Enemy Mine, the humans are more of the enemy and the invader than the alien Dracs. This is also true in other galaxy-spanning MSF works, like Andromeda, Star Trek, and Mass Effect. One of the more interesting turns on the old standard of humans being the good guys is the movie Avatar, with the invading greedy humans coming to take resources from the native at all costs, and that struggle dividing the humans. This view of humans being the aggressors is now being more standard in the world of sci-fi/fantasy. After all, Superman is an alien.    

3. Military Sci-Fi is Written by Veterans
This actually myth that I've suffered from with my own writing career. During writing sessions for certain blogposts and books, I've asked questions of ex-military individuals, and they often say that my choice of sci-fi genre would be easier if I had served. This myth is also popularly held, that military sci-fi is written by veterans, and while it is true that some veterans have become pillars in the military science fiction community, some of the best works of MSF are written by people who have never served a day in their lives. ALIENS was forged by James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd, both non-vets. Old Man's War was written by John Scalzi, also a non-veteran. Of course, FWS is written by me, and the only military outfit I served in was the Allies, during 2007's Oklahoma D-DAY. Just because you never served, doesn't mean you cannot write future war stories.

4. Military Sci-Fi is War Mongering
Some people in my life, including family, have leveled accusations that military sci-fi is a clever way of packaging war for easy consumption by the masses, especially younger viewers. I heard this associated with early Anime imports like Starblazers, ROBOTECH, Mobile Suit Gundam.  I grew up with friends that could not watch these Anime series, because of the liberal use of violence, and they faulty believed that the violence was just for the sake of violence...when in actuality ROBOTECH and Starblazers explore the futility of war. Even when something is designed to be an anti-war product, it often fails in that attempt, allowing people to level claims that do not belong. As Jarhead author Anthony Swofford was quoted as saying: "Vietnam War Films are all pro-war, no matter what the supposed message, what Kubrick or Coppola or Stone intended...The magic brutality of the films celebrates the terrible and despicable beauty of their fighting skills. Fight, rape, war, pillage, burn. Fimic images of death and carnage are pornography for the military man."

5. All Soldiers in the Future uses Lasers
This is another one of those traditions that has continued from the early days of sci-fi, with works like Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, all the way to modern sci-fi works like Star Trek and Star Wars, that future wars will be waged with colorful beams of energy based blaster-weapons. Of course, at present, there no offensive DEW systems being used, and for the last thousand years, chemically propelled projectiles have been the staple of warfare, and it doesn't seem likely that they will be replaced by laser-blasters or plasma rifles in the 40 watt range anytime soon. After iconic works like ALIENS, the trend of using bullet-firing weapons in sci-fi exploded, and has become more of the standard than blasters.

6. Star Trek is Military Sci-Fi
For years, since the founding of FWS, I've had a blogpost on the draft pile...is Star Trek military sci-fi? And to this day, it is still on that pile. One common myth that gets repeated over and over by internet and fans is that universe of Star Trek is military science fiction. While it is true that some periods of Star Trek, especially the The Dominion/Federation War and the Nu-Trek movies are more geared towards future war stories, the whole series is not through the lens of military sci-fi. Gene Roddenberry deliberately set out in 1966 with presenting a TV science fiction series that was not a "space western", but stories about hope in the future of mankind among the stars. Some older fans of Trek believe that stories like the Dominion War, the combat games, and the Nu-Trek movies would have been against Gene's original intentions and vision. I personally believe that Star Trek has elements of military science fiction, but it not a "pure" work of the genre.

7. Star Wars is Military Sci-Fi
Once again, much like Star Trek, fans and websites have included Star Wars into the genre of military sci-fi for years. This was mainly due the intergalactic civil war seen in the Holy Trilogy, and the Clone Wars seen the dogshit prequel films. At the heart of Star Wars is two wars, one between the Sith and the Jedi and the other is the proxy forces that are caught up in the middle of their jihad. Mostly, Star Wars is a space-based fanasty world, much like the old TSR D&D Spelljammer universe, in combines magic, swords, holy quests, destiny, with spaceships, alien worlds, and space battle. So, Star Wars has strong elements of military science fiction, bit it not 100% pure.

8. Only Men Write Military Sci-Fi
There are modern myths that there are no female gamers playing Call of Duty, that female soldiers are not in harm's way, or that all military sci-fi is composed by males. Far from it. There is The Healer's War by former Vietnam Army Nurse Elizabeth Anne Scarborough. In 2008, former Navy servicewomen Sandra McDonald began her MSF literature career with The Outback Stars. Tanya Huff and Elizabeth Moon have been in the military sci-fi writing game for years with many books to their credit.  Lois McMaster Bujold has written the MSF Vorkosigan Saga series since 1986.

9. Future Wars are Always in Space
One of the common themes of MSF is war among the stars, and the vast majority of works within the genre are set in outer space on alien planets, but not all of them. Some military science fiction conflicts actually occur on good old Earth, and do not need spaceships to tell their tale of future wars. We have the upcoming Edge of Tomorrow, which is based on the Japanese light-novel All You Need Is Kill as an excellent example. In the 1980's we had Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, and even today, we have Battlefield: 2142 and Battle: Los Angeles.

10.Military Sci-Fi is only about War and Soldiers
To some, military science fiction is only concerned with the deeds of valor earned in battle and the people involved in those events. However, for those of us that create military sci-fi stories, the truth is that not all of the genre is about war and soldiers. Take for example, the new Battlestar Galactica, the majority of the stories are not about the war between the human and the Cylons, some of the episodes are, but most are the stories of the survivors of the holocaust, and their lives during the exodus to Earth. Even during interstellar wars, like those seen in Deep Space 9 or Babylon 5, there are other stories to tell than just combat. What most of military sci-fi is about is condition of the men, women, and machines during war. While I enjoy writing a good battle sequence, I also enjoy crafting characters and propelling them through the universe I've created, and seeing how that changes them. Degrading the entire genre of military science fiction to a myth that it just all about war and killing, is like saying that all war movies are about war. If you believe that, than you've never seen Platoon or Blackhawk Down or played HALO  or Gears of War.

18 October 2013

FWS Forgotten Classics: ENEMY MINE (1985)

For most of us science fiction writers, the dream is to see your work on the silver-screen, and in 1985, noted sci-fi author Barry B. Longyear was able to see his award-winning military sci-fi short-story in theaters with the movie Enemy Mine. However,Enemy Mine would die at the cinema, and became a true forgotten classic of military science fiction in later years. While this movie was quickly forgotten in the sci-fi crazy of the 1980's, the film made an impression on me when I finally watched on TNT in the 1990's. So much so, that when I founded FWS back in 2010, Enemy Mine was one of those forgotten classics of military science fiction that really wanted to discuss on this site, because of just how good this film really was. In this blogpost on another Forgotten Classic of MSF, we will exam 1985's Enemy Mine. For those with access and are curious, production of Enemy Mine was covered in Cinefex #25 (Feb. 86) and Starlog #102 (Jan. 86).

The Story of ENEMY MINE
At some point in the 21st century, the Earth unites under a world-wide agreement called the Bilateral Terran Alliance or BTA. Given the word "bilateral" could be an acknowledgement of the existence of the Soviet Union and the United States at the time of the script, and we could also deduce that in the 21st century, the Terra is united due to the actions of two superpower political entities...yeah, I'm over thinking this one way too hard. Anyway, by the later 21st century, mankind as expanded out to the stars with the intention of establishing an interstellar empire, however, the BTA quickly discoveries than the best interstellar restate is already claimed...by the Dracs. The Drac, from Dracon, are an asexual reptilian sentient species that follow the teachings of their great teacher, Shismar. They claim that they were on these worlds and systems first, and in response, the BTA annexed several systems, leading to the Human/Drac War.
The war, according to the limited amount seen in the movie, is fought in deep space, away from Dracon and Terra. The BTA seems to maintain a collection of military forward operating space stations that are used to deploy combat spacecraft. No where in the film is an larrge military combat spacecraft seen. On July 11, 2092, BTA hot-shot starfighter pilot Willis E. Davidge and others in his group are sent out against a Drac patrol in the Fryine system, which was annexed by the BTA from the Drac.
During the battle, Davidge loses several friends to a certain Drac ace, and Davidge chases the enemy fighter to the fourth planet of the Fryine system. Over the planet, Willis damages the Drac fighter, and while plunging into atmosphere, the Drac hits the chicken switch, and Willis' fighter crashes into the enemy fighter, causing him and his operator to crashland. Willis's operator dies on Fryine IV, driving Davidge to persuade the downed Drac pilot Jeriba Shigan across the harsh terrain of Fryine IV with murder in his dark heart. For 108 minutes, the story of survival of two abandoned enemy pilots on a hostile world, and their journey towards brotherhood.

The Original Text: ENEMY MINE by Barry B. Longyear 
To the surprise of some, Enemy Mine was based on a short-story written by Barry B. Longyear, and was highly praised during its original publication back in 1979. However, today there is some confusion about the work that lead to the 1985 20th Century Fox film. It seems that there several different works with the same name and basic story are floating around. The "original" text was written in February of 1978 and based off the 1968 film War in the Pacific and published by Issac Asimov;s Science Fiction Magazine in the September 1979 issue. This won the 1980 Hugo for best novella, along with the Nebula award for best novella in 1980, as well. It would be reprinted a number of times onward from 1979 to 2008. Later, in 1998, the author would expand the original short-story to a novella with the "author's cut" for the publisher White Wolf collection of Enemy Mine stories called The Enemy Papers.
That 1998 trade paperback clocked in at 665 pages and contained the expanded Enemy Mine, a portion of the Drac holy text, two more stories set in the Enemy Mine universe, along with some essays. One of the interesting stories that I would like to read is the another war story, called The Tomorrow Testament. This short story is set during the Human-Drac War from the POV of an human female infantryman, Joanne Nicole. The Enemy Papers also contains the author's final story on the Human-Drac War, called The Last Enemy and takes place on the beginning site of the war, the Drac planet Amadeen for the POV of a Drac named Yazi Ro. So, that is two versions of the Enemy Mine story, and the third is the movie tie-in book, printed for the release and written by David Gerrold. This way out-of-print movie-tie book was also credited to Barry B. Longyear, due to the original text being in the script that the book was based on. I believe it was only published in 1985 by ACE books and has different cover art based on the film.   

How Does Movie Defer from the Original Story?
It often comes up when a movie is based on a book or short story about the differences between the two. Unlike Blade Runner vs. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Enemy Mine 1985 movie contains a great deal of the original 1979 text, along with the title, and surprising, a great deal of the dialog appears in the film as well. Most of the first and second acts of Enemy Mine are very similar, including names and major events. It is in the third act that the film and novella alter. Both have scavengers arrive on Fryine IV with Drac slaves, and Zammis goes to investigate. These human slavers shoot Davidge, and take Zammis prisoner.
When Davidge wakes up at the human military installation, he learns that the Human-Drac War is over, and the scavengers were arrested and their alien slaves were sent back to Dracon, along with Zammis. Davidge is being sent home to Earth to live with his parents. During his time at the hospital, a doctor with an interest in Dracs helps Davidge throughout the final act of the book. Davidge is obsessed with learning the fate of Zammis, but lacks the funds or support to travel to Dracon. For months, Davidge translates the Talman from Drac to English, along with a translation matrix, and uses the money to buy his way to Dracon via a cargo vessel. Once former space pilot arrives on Dracon, he meets Jerry's "parent", and other members of the family who do not believe him about Jerry or Zammis. It was not until Davidge sung the line of the Jeriba family that show this oddball human some respect.
Zammis is located in a "house of despair", where unclaimed Draco go to await their fate, and since Zammis father could not present him and his family line heritage to the elder council, than he is like an untouchable in Draco society. At first, Zammis did not recognized "uncle" until they paid the "finger games". According to some outlines of the novella, there is much devoted to get Zammis to the elder-council, and the book ends with Zammis being added to the line, fulfilling Davidge's promise to Jerry.

The Historical Context of ENEMY MINE
When Enemy Mine hit theaters in winter of 1985, one has to remember it was the Reagan 80's and our mortal enemies where the Soviets, money was king, and Jedi was two years in the past, and ALIENS was one year in the future. While audience wanted space fighter battles, they were not in the mood to see a film about establishing common ground with their moral enemy. Peace through superior firepower and nuclear missiles was more popular the concept of peace talks and thawing the Cold War. In some ways, Enemy Mine was the right message at the wrong time. This was also the time when science fiction movies were replaced with more of the popcorn action film, and once again, Enemy Mine was late to the party. The top movies of 1985 were: Back to the Future, Breakfast Club, Goonies, Pale Rider, Witness, and Mask. From this list, we can see that the era of the big-adventure space movie was not popular. When came to the main actors in the film, Dennis Quaid was a star on the raise with his role in the film The Right Stuff, while Louis Gossett Jr. had own an Emmy for his role in An Officer and a Gentleman in 1982.

The Rise and Fall of ENEMY MINE
There is no doubt that Enemy Mine was a well-receiving novella in 1979, winning several major awards in 1980 and leading to several more books in the series. However, how did the roller-coaster ride of Enemy Mine transitioning from the page to the silver-screen result in the film becoming a "forgotten classic"? Given that the novella came into print in 1979, it's transition to film was rapid, greenlit in 1983 and filming began in April of 1984, and released in December 20,1985. Enemy Mine was originally direct by British filmmarker Richard Loncraine when the filming began in April 1984.  Within a few weeks, he was released by the studio after cost overruns (especially with the Icelandic on-location scenes), differences in the film, and poor dailies. By this point, over half of the $18 million budget was spent, and the studio had to make some decides about if Enemy Mine should even be finished. The decision by the studio heads was to move forward, however during this, Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett Jr. along with other actors were paid holding money to prevent them from taking other acting gigs that could have doomed the movie. The studio had lost confidence in the direction of the film, and asked Wolfgang Petersen to direct with a complete fresh start, moving the production from Budapest to Munich. This was not all that was changed, the Drac makeup was refined, resulting in more lost time for the production. After a seven month delay, and millions over budget, filming of Enemy Mine was completed at cost of $29 million.
However, the trouble continued. The studio, once again, lacked faith in the finished produced, poured millions into promotion, topping off the budget to $40 million. Critical reception was mixed when Enemy Mine premiered on December 20th, 1985 across 703 screen nation-wide. One critic went as far as calling Enemy Mine "this year's Dune". Others, while impressed with the overall message of the film and the actors themselves, called the plot predicable. Even 20th Century Fox executives were not hopefully of Enemy Mine's chances of recouping its money given its enemies-turned-friend central plot. One was even quoted saying that the returns didn't matter, because the film was doomed anyways. Cute, but he was right, the returns were not promising. Enemy Mine would generated $1.6 million on opening weekend. When the dust settled, Enemy Mine only made $12 million back on a $40 million investment (some say $48 million!)...sounds like the US Stock Market as of late, and the film quickly disappeared.

Why Was ENEMY MINE Forgotten?
With all of the praise that yours truly is piling onto this box office bomb, why was Enemy Mine forgotten about? The sad truth that is for a 1980's sci-fi film to be remembered and celebrated today, it has to standout from the herd. This applies to great films like 2010: The Year We Make ContactALIENS, Time Bandits and equally terrible films like Solar Babies, Yor: Hunter From the Future, and Krull. However, movies like Enemy Mine were in the middle of the pack, and often required that someone either remembered the film when it was original released or saw it on TV or the rental racks.
With Enemy Mine only making back $12 million on the budget of $40 million, it quickly moved from first run theaters to dollar theaters to limited rental tapes. At the time that Enemy Mine was released onto home media, rental stores based the amount of VHS/Betamax tapes they ordered on the box-office performance, and most video stores only carried a few copies of Enemy Mine, allowing the tape to be lost in the dizzy rows of boxes and rows. Plus, the cover-art was interesting, but it competed with film like Def-Con 4. Enemy Mine was also drown out by the crush of other sci-fi titles in the video store as well. Hell, I saw more copies of Space Camp and Critters than Enemy Mine at my local rental store in the 80's...Aardvark Video in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, in case anyone was wondering. Enemy Mine would be more heavily played on stations like TNT and Superstation WGN (that is how I saw it) in the early 1990's. Even today, it is difficult to find an Enemy Mine DVD. Another point about the disappearance of Enemy Mine, was the gap between the release of the film and the film, six years, and it was not book, but a short-story in a publication.

Why is ENEMY MINE an Classic?
While the movie is more or less forgotten by younger sci-fi fans, the landmark performance by Louis Gossett, Jr is not. Even today, Louis Gossett Jr.'s portray of Jerry is used by actors today as a guide on how to get an alien species right. I've read the some of the actors on AVATAR used Enemy Mine. Hell, even the Drac makeup still looks good today! Enemy Mine represents a sea-change in how an complex alien characters could be presented to the audience. From interviews at the time, Louis Gossett Jr wanted to bring Jerry into all three-dimensions, and not be a static piece. Without Enemy Mine there could be none of the classic alien characters since 1985. It is that good.
For me, another reason for the classic status of Enemy Mine, is the general cause for the war between the BTA and the Drac. In the backstory of the film, the Drac and the Terrans, who require were the same habitable standards fighting, are battling over prime interstellar resources and habitable exo-planets. Unlike other sci-fi reasons for the genesis of interstellar conflicts, war over habitable planets and raw material is the most likely trigger for war in outer space. While the opening line is mostly disregarded after the space fighter battle, it is an important element. Also, Enemy Line is an interesting bit of sci-fi storytelling, and how war could break out between human and aliens due to xenophobia. There is also some warmth at the core of this film, the relationship between the two pilots, and the promise that Davidge must keep is all told with tugs on the old heartstrings. Even during the post-Star Wars world of science fiction cinema, it is nice to see a sci-fi movie with such heart and attention.

With the downturn in the American economy, Hollywood has attempted to turn to "safe" returns on their investments in new films. This as fueled the trend of reboots and remakes of familiar film properties...and Enemy Mine is not one of these films. Despite Enemy Mine making lists online for movies that fans would like to see remade, there is no "official" movement from Hollywood. I believe that one day, there could be a remake of Enemy Mine...after all, they remade Planets of the Apes.

He Said What?! And Other ENEMY MINE Trivia
-At a convention, author Barry Longyear stated that the studio added the scenes of off-world mining to help the audience with the concept of the title, because the studioheads thought that Americans were too stupid to get the title. I just hope this is not true.

-Originally, author Barry Longyear was going to divide up Enemy Mine into two stories. Enemy Mine would have ended with the birth of Zammis and the sequel Son Mine would have picked the rest of the story. However, Barry's wife convicted him to combine the two stories into one.

-Louis Gossett, Jr stated that the special Drac voice for Jerry came from his own childhood experience with gargling saliva.

-Portions of the movie depicted the hostile alien environment were film in Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland...which now filming in Iceland for alien worlds is trendy. Other alien environmental shots were filming in Lanzarote Islands, near Spain.

-Veteran Babylon 5 actor Peter Jurasik was going to be Enemy Mine when the original director was still filming. Peter was to play "a gravedigger", but when the new director was brought on, Peter's role was cut, along with all of the scenes filmed. At the present time, there are no plans to bring these elements back to the light of day.

-BTA female space pilot Morse was played by Carolyn McCormick, who also played the holodeck personality "Minuet" in Star Trek: TNG episode "11001001". This was her first film role.

-The 21st century Pepsi soda  picked up by Davidge was original a Coca-Cola can in the novella, and it is rumored that Pepsi paid for an product placement. This would follow a trend of Pepsi colas been seen in sci-fi films, as part of their "Choice of a New Generation" ad campaign. Gods, I hate frakking Pepsi! Proud Coca-Coke drinkers in my house.

-There was to be a longer ending to the film, showing more of Darcon and the Holy Council scene. Some believe that these scenes were filmed and scrapped due to the massive cost overrun.

What I Wish was in ENEMY MINE
While I regard Enemy Mine has a classic of MSF, it, like any other film does have elements that I wish had been added to round the complete experience of the film. The beginning of the film should have established the war and the human characters in greater detail. I read rumors of a original opening in a pilot lounge area, where Will Davidge updates his downDrac planes scorecards on a giant board of pilots, and being toasted by his unit. It was designed to establish Davidge as a badass space ace. That scene with more of the human POV should have been in the film.
When Davidge is recovered on the planet and identified, I wish there had been a debriefing scene, which I believe was in the original text. A scene where a clean-up Davidge with an BTA official would have been cool, and not as rushed as the film is now.The scene with the scavengers gravediggers and the dead Drac slaves should have been included, and reinforced the message of "human beings are dicks". Lastly, I wish we could have seen Dracon in more detail than the two minutes in the film. Maybe if there is ever a remake...

The Impact of ENEMY MINE
In this new era of search engines and dizzying amount of websites focused on movie reviews, Enemy Mine has a fair amount of one-page reviews, but there is little or none in the way of internet shrines devoted to this 1985 movie. This is one way of gauging the impact of a certain film in this day and age: how much of an internet footprint the film has. However, it wasn't until I decided to finally write this blogpost that my eyes were open to how forgotten this movie really was. To find a DVD copy of Enemy Mine, I went to three Movie Trading Companies stores here in the Dallas area, and only found the bare-bones copy with nothing in the way of extras. Taking all of these element into consideration, it seems that unlike 1980's sci-fi classics like ALIENS, Enemy Mine does not the wide range impact, and one has to explore more secondary influences of the 1985 film.
As I stated above, Louis Gossett Jr.'s performance as Jerry as become one of the standards of human actors taking on alien parts, and could be one of the direct lasting impacts of the film. While plot elements of the original text and film were recycled from the 1968 WWII film Hell in the Pacific, science fiction, as a whole,  liberally borrowed from Enemy Mine over the years. In the 7th season episode  Stargate: SG-1 "Enemy Mine", the entire episode draws heavily from the movie and short-story in both story and alien design for the Unas alien race. Then we have several Star Trek episodes that work off of this basic concept, including one my favorites: "Darmok" along with another TNG episode, "the Enemy". In the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Dawn", we saw a real effort to capitalize on the themes of the film. I've read several times, that some of the Star Trek bigwigs are fans of the film.
When I first started playing the original Wing Commander in 1991, I came to the opinion that somehow Wing Commander and Enemy Mine are related. There is no direct evidence of this link, it is just my personal belief that Enemy Mine directly influenced the development and look of the Wing Commander PC games. Too bad, that the shitty Wing Commander movie couldn't draw this much better movie to give us the Wing Commander. The Drac are directly referenced in the excellent 2010 Hunter Prey film. When the Terran character Orin is trading verbal blows with Centauri 7, they both mentioned another race, the Drac and how they allied to the Terrans. Of course, to an old-school sci-fi geek, I loved the reference, and give that seen some interesting traction in my mind...of course, I love Hunter Prey and so should you. It would be cool if Hunter Prey was the side-sequel to Enemy Mine, and the Drac and Terrans are now allies, mainly because of the actions of Davidge, Jerry, and Zammis. I think that was a smart move on the part of director/writer Sandy Collora to include this little gem.

The ENEMY MINE Alliance Model Kit
Movie tie-in products are nothing new, especially in the post-Star Wars world, and it seems that every single sci-fi film received some manner of tie-in product (remember the weird-ass LJN DUNE figures?!), and this included Enemy Mine. While Enemy Mine did not get the line of action figures and birthday party decorations, it did get a single 1/72 BTA fighter model kit by Alfred Wong and Alliance model kits released in 1985. This resin model kit, AM32, was the only one released for Enemy Mine however, there have been rumors of a Drac fighter, but I've never been able to track down any information. The kit today sells for around $40 online and would make an nice addition to the FWS offices. Recently, there have been some modern kits based on Jerry, the BTA and Drac fighters for sale around the internet.

Some Hardware Pictures
 A good shot of the front of the Drac fighter.
Filming the space dogfight with the Drac fighter model
The oddball scavenger mining/slave ship model being worked on during production
 More of the Drac fighter model
 Only one engine on the Drac fighter? Very odd.
 One of the BTA fighter models used in the film along with the dead BTA pilot from the opening. That should be my next Halloween costume!

 Before original director Richard Loncraine was canned by the studio, the BTA was going to use a combat space shuttle-like design for the BTA offensive starship, instead of the more X-Wing like fighter seen the Wolfgang Petersen film. This model was seen in Cinefex#25, but was cut when the film was re-shot.
An interesting thruster cluster of the original BTA offensive space vehicle. Is that color outer space rust-orange?