The Fifth Element

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1914, aliens known as Mondoshawans arrive at an ancient Egyptian temple to collect, for safekeeping, the only weapon capable of defeating a great evil that appears every 5,000 years. The weapon consists of four stones, representing the four classical elements, and a sarcophagus containing a fifth element in the form of a human, which combines the power of the other four elements into a divine light capable of defeating the evil. The Mondoshawans promise their human contact, a priest from a secret order, that they will come back with the element stones in time to stop the great evil when it returns.

In 2263, the great evil appears in deep space in the form of a giant ball of black fire, and destroys an attacking Earth spaceship. The Mondoshawans’ current contact on Earth, priest Vito Cornelius (Ian Holm), informs the President of Earth (Tom Lister Jr.) of the history of the great evil and the weapon that can stop it. As the Mondoshawans return to Earth they are ambushed by Mangalores, a race hired by the industrialist Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman), who has been instructed by the great evil to acquire the stones.

The Mondoshawans’ spacecraft is destroyed, though the stones are not on board; the only item recovered is a hand of The Fifth Element. Scientists take it to a New York City laboratory and use it to reconstruct a humanoid woman who takes the name Leeloo (Milla Jovovich). Terrified of the unfamiliar surroundings, she escapes confinement and jumps off a ledge, crashing into the flying taxicab of Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis), a former major in the special forces.

Dallas delivers Leeloo to Cornelius and his apprentice, David (Charlie Creed-Miles), whereupon Cornelius learns that the Mondoshawans entrusted the four element stones to the alien Diva Plavalaguna (Maïwenn Le Besco), an opera singer. Zorg kills many of the Mangalores because of their failure to obtain the stones, but their compatriots determine to seize the artifacts for themselves. Upon learning from the Mondoshawans that the stones are in Plavalaguna’s possession, General Munro (Brion James), Dallas’ former superior, re-enlists Dallas and orders him to travel undercover to meet Plavalaguna on a luxury intergalactic cruise; Dallas takes Leeloo with him. Meanwhile, Cornelius instructs David to prepare the ancient temple designed to house the stones, then stows away on the space plane transporting Dallas to the cruise liner.

Plavalaguna is killed when the Mangalores attack the ship, but Dallas succeeds in retrieving the stones. During his struggle with the Mangalores he kills their leader. After shooting and seriously wounding Leeloo, Zorg finds a carrying case which he presumes contains the stones, and takes it back to his spacecraft, leaving behind a time bomb that forces the liner’s occupants to evacuate. Discovering the case to be empty, Zorg returns to the ship and deactivates his bomb, but a dying Mangalore sets off his own device, destroying the ship and killing Zorg. Dallas, Cornelius, Leeloo, and talk-show host Ruby Rhod (Chris Tucker) escape with the stones aboard Zorg’s spacecraft.

The four join up with David at the weapon chamber in the Egyptian temple as the great evil approaches. They activate the stones, but having witnessed and studied so much violence, Leeloo has become disenchanted with humanity and refuses to cooperate. Dallas confesses his love for Leeloo and kisses her. In response, Leeloo combines the power of the stones and releases the divine light; the great evil, now dormant, becomes another moon in Earth orbit.

REVIEW:

In the 80s, there were countless clones, imitations, and blatant rip offs of Star Wars. That trend ended, though, and sci-fi focused on other films to steal from. Then the 90s hit and studios realized it was time for a new space opera. There were many failures, some epic in scope *COUGH* Battlefield Earth *COUGH*, but there was one that has gone one to cult status, The Fifth Element.

What is this about?

In this imaginative sci-fi epic, a 23rd-century cabbie finds himself involved with a fetching alien who may hold the key to saving the world. But it’s curtains for planet Earth unless the duo can stay a step ahead of a demented villain named Zorg.

What did I like?

Epic feel. What makes the holy trilogy so special is that it tells a story that on a huge scale. In some respects, this film follows that same formula. The evil, universal bad guys can only be defeated by this ragtag group of heroes, to sum it up in not so many words. It works, though. Also, there is just a certain look to the film in places that is very reminiscent of 70s and early 80s sci-fi, which I appreciated.

Friday. At the time this was released, Chris Tucker was an up and coming star because of Friday, a small role in Jackie Brown, and the Rush Hour films coming down the pipeline. Not being a big star, yet, Tucker was still hungry and willing to do anything to get noticed and bring home a paycheck, which explains why this overly flamboyant, obvious comic relief character of Ruby Rhod work. He is a contrast to the seriousness of Bruce Willis and isn’t off in la la land like Milla Jovovich’s character seems to be at some points.

Reconstruction. Some of our best technological achievements today have come from sci-fi films and television (and yet we still don’t have flying cars!) If there is something that should seriously be considered for real word use, I would say it is this reconstruction machine. Milla Jovovich’s character was nothing but a hand and this thing recreated her bones, tissues, muscles, everything. Obviously, this wouldn’t work in real life, but imagine if someone had their leg amputated for some reason and were taken to this machine. I’m just saying, it was impressive.

What didn’t I like?

Accent. I think I should just automatically make this a category any time I watch a film where someone is speaking in some sort of accent, because this seems to be a recurring theme. This time the culprit is Gary Oldman. Not only does he have this odd Texas-ish accent going on, but his character reminds me of the duke from Moulin Rouge, if he were really a bad guy. The accent, though, just makes no kind of sense. What was wrong with his normal accent, I wonder. Seems to me a British sounding villain is way more intimidating that one who sounds like he was an extra on Dallas.

Perfect? You could have a drinking game with as many times as Milla Jovovich was called perfect, especially when they first re-create her. My problem with that is she really isn’t perfect, at least to me. If you go by what the magazines and fashion industry want you to believe, then yes, she is perfect. However, as a red-blooded, straight American male, I can say that she needs some work before she can be called perfect. Personally, I like my women with curves and a bit more meat on their bones. Perhaps the next guy prefers blondes. The guy after that may have a thing for buff girls. What I’m trying to say is that if they really wanted her to be perfect, then she should have been an amalgamation of what guys tend to think is perfect, rather than just a random model.

Identity thief. Perhaps in this post 9/11 world we live in, seeing something like 3 or 4 guys claiming to be same person, as well as a woman who only seems to know a handful of words, would raise some red flags. For some reason, though, it is just business as usual at this terminal. At least it is once they catch the guy. Had this kind of thing happened in an airport today on Earth, all of those guys would have gotten a major beatdown, which would be followed by questions. That seems to be how things work over here in the US.

Apparently, people fall on one side or the other with The Fifth Element. They either love it or hate it. I think I’m the oddball, because I don’t really feel strongly either way. On the one side, I was expecting more action and outlandish humor, rather than some humdrum melodrama. On the flipside of that, though, there is a really good story that is easy to follow. So, do I recommend it? Sure, as a matter of fact, I think this is a film that needs to be seen more than once to truly cherish. I guess that means I need to go watch it again. HA!

4 out of 5 stars

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