Review: Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Special effects audio commentary with
Mark Stetson, Karen E. Goulekas, Bill Neil and Ron Gress. Making
of documentary 'Discovering The Fifth Element'; Special effects
featurette 'Imagining The Fifth Element'; 'The Art of The Fifth
Element with Jean-Claude Mezieres' featurette; 'An Audience with
Diva Plavalaguna' featurette; 'Elements of Style - Jean-Paul Gaultier'
featurette; Trailers and TV spots; Launching 'The Fifth Element'
- Cannes opening night party; Storyboard and production notes;
'The Sixth Element' essay.
THERE is no getting away from the fact that Luc Besson is one
of cinema's great visual stylists, not to mention a terrific storyteller
Films such as Taxi, The Big Blue and Leon are rightly regarded
as classics, both in terms of look and content.
The Fifth Element, however, marked something of a creative overdrive.
It is, for the most part, a breathtaking sci-fi thriller, which
is almost undone by the director's inability to reign one of his
Hence, while the film will always be remembered fondly in terms
of visceral quality, it is also known as the film which was almost
single-handedly ruined by Chris Tucker's hugely irritating DJ
Ruby Rhod (in terms of bad characters, this one has to rate as
worse than Jar-Jar Binks, of Phantom Menace fame!).
Prior to his appearance (halfway through), The Fifth Element
bears all the hallmarks of becoming a cult classic, courtesy of
Jean Paul Gaultier's outlandish costumes, Dan Weil's eye-catching
production design and another laconic turn from Bruce Willis.
The film is set in the 23rd Century, as Earth is being threatened
by a fireball, representing Absolute Evil.
Our only hope lies in the Fifth Element, sent by friendly aliens
and given human form in the guise of Milla Jovovich's scantily-clad
Leeloo, who's rescued from a ruthless militia by Bruce Willis'
renegade spacefighter, turned cabbie, Korben Dallas.
Forming an unlikely alliance, Dallas must protect Leeloo from
the unwanted attentions of Gary Oldman's evil Zorg, while seeking
to do what he can to help humanity with the help of Ian Holm's
all-knowing priest, Cornelius.
With obvious contemporary shades of the Lord of the Rings (in
terms of absolute evil, and Holm's Gandalf-like guide), The Fifth
Element is a popcorn-friendly affair, with its tongue kept firmly
in its kitsch cheek, throughout.
The sets are amazing, the set pieces largely well-handled and
the humour nicely sarcastic; but things come undone from the moment
Tucker steps forward.
DJ Ruby is the sort of character Die Hard's John McClane would
have wasted no time in dispensing with, yet, sadly, lives to tell
the tale, thereby rendering the latter part of the movie virtually
The film, itself, isn't helped by the director's apparent lack
of ideas - for a film which starts so promisingly, and which seems
over-run with ideas and designs, the classic race-against-time,
shoot-'em-up scenario feels like something of a letdown.
That said, there is still much to enjoy from it, while the special
edition DVD provides a decent 50-minute retrospective, and a fabulous
hour-long MTV Cannes Fifth Element special, which features a look
up Jovovich's skirt and Mike Leigh endorsing a commercial movie
(among other things).
There's too much Tucker, of course, and not enough Besson; but
fans of the film itself won't be disappointed for this is a special
edition which really does deliver.