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Bruce Willis
Gary Oldman
Milla Jojovich
Ian Holm
Chris Tucker
Luke Perry
Brion James
Tommy Lister
Lee Evans
John Neville

Luc Besson



Time: 122 mins.
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Science Fiction/Action

Academy Award nomination for Sound Effects Editing.

I didn't see this film in the theater and I wish I had. I am a big fan of Luc Besson's work and though THE FIFTH ELEMENT isn't his best movie, it's not half bad either. I can understand why most mainstream reviewers panned this film – there isn't much of a plot and what is there isn't very original. However, the look and feel is, and believe me, in this case, that's worth the price of admission. I'm not sure how good the viewing experience will be on video if you don't have the chance to see the letterboxed version. Besson fills the frame to capacity and you won't want to miss a single inch.

The story is fairly straightfoward: The universe is going to be destroyed by a giant, unstoppable planet, which shows up every 5000 years (don't ask why), unless the "five elements" can be gathered together to stop it. There are your requisite good guys (played by Bruce Willis and Ian Holm) and bad guys (Gary Oldman) fighting for posession of the stones, which represent the elements found in nature (air, water, fire, earth) and the Fifth Element that turns out to be a super being named "Leeloo" played by Milla Jojovich.

While searching for the stones Bruce falls for "Leeloo" who, through computer technology, is quickly learning the ways and language of this new millenium. She is strong, since she's a cosmic being, yet vulnerable as well. Milla actually does a fairly good job capturing this dichotomy. Bruce is his charming, heroic self and Oldman is just well, crazy, which again is nothing new. Yet, the film has an infectious style and energy that just captivated me from beginning until almost the end. Just because something is simple, doesn't mean it's stupid. The dialogue is irreverant, clever and funny. Besson puts just enough of the bizarre into this universe that you're just a bit unsure of what's actually going to happen next. The production design and special effects are phenominal, creating a futuristic Earth that's both believable and extraordinary. I truly enjoyed this ride and though you know they're going to save the planet, I found it interesting how they actually did.

"I only speak two languages – English and bad English."

The one problem I had with the film was it's sudden and out-of-place plot turn where Leelo "discovers" the meaning of war – the computer spews every hienous image ever taken of the atrocities of man – and decides not to help mankind after all. Up to this point, THE FIFTH ELEMENT was a quirky, funny, bizarre, visually stunning space romp that had no messages about anything. I could have dealt without the lecture. It had no place in this movie. It made me think that Besson saw THE ABYSS one too many times. Of course, if she wasn't devestated by this information she wouldn't have needed to find "love" with Bruce, which I also could have dealt without. They didn't really have any sort of sexual chemistry, so why bother. I guess so Bruce could be redeemed and learn to love again, blah, blah, blah. That may have worked well in some of Besson's other films, but it just didn't fit here. Wait a minute, I think I get it...the fifth element is "love". Wow. How deep. Whatever. If you want to see a fun and often-times just plain wierd, sci-fi film THE FIFTH ELEMENT is one to watch. It's not too tart, not too sweet. At least not until the end.

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