The Fifth Element (1997) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
comments in white:
The Fifth Element (1997) is another in the Columbia Tristar Superbit collection, and again is a stunning transfer. It is beginning to look like I will need to own 2 copies of several films, superbit to watch, and other versions for special features. In fact, I had seen this film before, but didn't even try to cap the brief exposure from Milla Jovovich (breasts, and buns in a skimpy costume. The higher quality of this release made the project worth the effort.
A quick recap of the plot. Bruce Willis is a former special forces soldier who is now driving a cab, and Milla is "the perfect woman, and the fifth element" on Earth to save the world from ultimate evil. The setting is the distant future. The story is like something out of Indiana Jones. IMDB lists the genre as Action/Sci-Fi/Comedy/Drama/Romance/Fantasy/(more), I say comedy in a Sci-Fi setting.
|I found it very imaginative, and thought the performances, while intentionally a little over the top, were very good, especially that of Jovovich, who was able to speak a convincing alien tongue without hesitation at an amazing clip.||
comments in yellow:
I like The Fifth Element, but the film sort of ran afoul of those who like their earth-threatening situations to be dark and somber. Luc Besson's future world is light-hearted, some of the aliens look like lumbering muppets, Bruce Willis and Chris Tucker are their usual wisecrackin' selves, and the world can only be saved by a really hot babe (Milla Jovovich, then the director's wife). There is not much gravitas here. The tone of the film is more like Raiders or Star Wars than Blade Runner. There isn't any hint of "film noir" in sight, despite the world's imminent end.
I have often excoriated European filmmakers for wanting to make art before they learned how to light a scene. Luc Besson is exempt from this criticism. He is not arty, he has a great sense of humor, and this film is lit and photographed with an absolute technical virtuosity. It's also filled with a campy, ironic, sorta shallow view of the future. In other words, if you didn't know better, you'd think Besson was an American director.
Besson wrote the first draft of this film when he was a young teen, but waited decades to film it. In between, he established his competence with such films as La Femme Nikita and Leon (The Professional), earning enough credibility that a Hollywood studio was willing to invest $90 million on this film.
|They got their money
back. Besson isn't one of those Frenchmen who wants to make arty,
money-losing films. He knows how to please the audience. He's
Spielberg smoking Galoises. The American market didn't respond as well
as hoped ($63 million gross), but it was a monster hit across the
world, and paid out.
American critics were divided on the film. The average palookas like me and Tuna liked it. Some of the more cerebral critics were not so impressed.
As for me - I say great images, great fun, great imagination, Milla nearly naked. More than enough for this guy.
Besson's only film since this was that completely awful Joan of Arc film, which cost more than $50 million, received razzberries from the critics, and amassed a box office only about 20% as much as The Fifth Element. (Only $14 million in the USA, despite a 2000 screen rollout). This, in conjunction with his split from Milla, seems to have distracted Besson temporarily. He has directed no films in the past two years, and seems to have no current directing project in the pipeline.
Return to the Movie House home page