Crash landing on a hostile planet and seeing his co pilot killed, might seem the worst that could happen to Willis E Davidge. This was until he found out that the Drax enemy he has been fighting against all this time, has crash landed on this planet also. The smoke plums from the ship and this is a signal for Davidge to kill his enemy. The Drax ship is almost intact and the Drax is alive waiting for a rescue ship to come. once there however the Drax challenges Davidge and they fight. One proves stronger but the other is smarter. Will these enemies become friends?
A film that explores the ability for differences to be made similar. A film that explores how two different cultures, ethnic groups or religious practices can find a common ground would not primarily be considered sci fi cinema fodder. This could lead to an unhappy merging of genre and ideology or a rather tepid, weak and even patronising execution. Here it has lead to a film that reminds us of the brilliance of Dances with Wolves. The ground covered here deals in a very compassionate way with the ‘stranger in the strange land’ idea. The idea of difference and similarity. The exploration of diversity and unity.
Visually the film is astonishing. It makes use of a place that feels harsh and hostile. It makes it so real and so much a part of the relationship between character and place and performer and performance. Quaid plays the role of Davidge with intelligence and range which often he is not credited with. He gives us a balance and insight into a world that is visually complex but difficult to merge with performance. The other star here Louis Gossett Jr. He has a far harder task and does it so well as to be amazing. Stunning in his layering of an enemy come friend and his use of vocal punch and physical stance.
The Blu Ray has a gorgeous transfer that picks out the detail of the landscape. The deleted scene is interesting but also shows the ability of the film makers to choose the story and structure the ideas. The booklet has some rewarding elements but for me the film stands tall as a great piece of humanist cinema.