Review – The Fifth Element
I recently discovered that these are coming soon:
I’ve no great love for Pop Vinyls, they’re nice enough but not to my taste, and I do love that they are trying their damnedest to hit every corner of geekdom with their appeal, it’s a dream we share. I’d also like to say that these had better be the first in the range, because I am not seeing Father Cornelius, Ruby Rhod or a Mondoshawan.
This discovery also led to another: Our very own Tim has NEVER SEEN THE FIFTH ELEMENT!
So my recovery process in the face of this shocking news is naturally to talk about this film at length.
This is such a Fantasy/Sci-Fi, practically a role-play group in the making: Korben Dallas the fighter, hard-done-by ex-military turned taxi driver thrown into a fight to save the world; Leeloo, the living weapon, near perfect except for a general lack of real world knowledge; Father Cornelius, the profoundly knowledgeable priest; and later on a generally useless DJ, like the DMs younger sibling who just doesn’t get it.
On the subject of saving the world, the evil in this film is – well, basically that – evil. Big, dark, destructive, apocalyptic evil made whole. It’s a little generic, but Gary Oldman as the mortal agent of the Evil is fantastic. Jean Baptiste Emanuel Zorg is a weapons dealer and general all around jerk, even to the band of mercenaries he enlists to help him blow a bunch of stuff up.
I hate warriors, too narrow-minded. I’ll tell you what I do like though: a killer, a dyed-in-the-wool killer. Cold blooded, clean, methodical and thorough. Now a real killer, when he picked up the ZF-1, would’ve immediately asked about the little red button on the bottom of the gun.
Oldman is the stand-out performance, but everyone in this film gives it their all, even Bruce Willis, whose general attitude seems to be that he’s in a film to do a job and then go home (especially in the last couple of Die Hard’s). Milla Jovovich brings her usual so-so skills but with a great deal more enthusiasm, not to mention the infamous “thermal bandage” outfit. Chris Rock is perhaps the most enthusiastic cast member, delivering in a very short space of time a fast paced performance more memorable than any other.
The film tears along at a breakneck pace without compromising story or characterisation. It builds a history, a world, a veritable mythology all within the frame of an action packed blockbuster that maintains a cult following (as evidenced by the new Funko range). It’s also got a pretty memorable soundtrack, not only the incredibly mutated operatic performance of the Diva Plavalaguna, but there are some other fantastic pieces if you listen closely.
This film is riddled with flaws, and I mean just filled. Plot holes abound, pretty massive questions left open, like “how exactly does a human as smart as Zorg not figure out that the thing he works for clearly wants to destroy everything, himself included. And why did John Bennett‘s priest character not simply open the ancient door and let the Mondoshawan out? And where was the body when they went back to the weapon chamber?
A flawed film can still be a good film, of course it can, and here’s a prime example. Dialogue is occasionally sloppy with a hint of cliché here and there, but there’s also an epic villain monologue and some hilarious gags to brighten the mood. The aliens are rubbery which looks pretty unnatural against the capabilities of modern graphics, but in 1997 as it is today the use of practical effects is a welcome relief at times. The storyline is literally good vs evil in a fight to save absolutely everything and in the most excellent use of a hackneyed resolution, love saves the day. No, that’s not a spoiler!
The Fifth Element is a big fan favourite, and something that’s still worth geeking out about. Much like Firefly, it’s a film you want to present to your friends. Tim. Tim watch it. Tim watch the film.