It is officially the future so I’ve decided to go with an instant classic from 1997 that takes place there. The first A2 Classic of the new year is an epic visually stunning films that boasts an extremely high replay factor. I can’t tell you how much I love this beautiful movie known as “The Fifth Element”. Two hundred and fifty years in the future, life as we know it is threatened by the arrival of a “Great Evil.” Only the fifth element (Milla Jovovich), an alien being who, using the power of four ancient elemental stones, can stop the Evil from extinguishing life. She is helped by ex-soldier, current-cab-driver, Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis), who is, in turn, helped by a Prince/Arsenio looking radio personality, Ruby Rhod (Chris Tucker) and a holy man in charge of the stones protection, Priest Vito Cornelius (Ian Holm). Unfortunately, Evil is being assisted by Mr. Zorg (Gary Oldman) and his alien mercenaries, who seek to profit from the chaos that Evil will bring. What ensues is a fantastically rich action film filled with gunfights, aliens, space ships, far away worlds and an amazingly colorful cast.
One of my favorite bits about this film is the assembly of the the cast. It is a straight-up action/adventure comedy film that has been casted to perfection. For the action department they brought in Bruce “Bad Ass” Willis and Milla Jovovich. They needed to balance out the pure ass-kickery with some comic relief and for that they had a combination of Chris Tucker and Charlie Creed-Miles. And more amazing still is the drama and credibility they add to the film by bringing Gary Oldman and Ian Holm in to the mix. There is a perfect balance with action and drama juxtaposed with a well built comedy element.
As I mentioned earlier, I am a hugantic fan of the visual element in this film. I have to praise the fantastic look that production designer Dan Weil created for this futuristic action flick. The vibrant colors and odd creatures in this film create a beautiful path that your imagination cant help but take a stroll down. The special effects in The Fifth Element are still what I would consider brilliant, even 13 years after its release. There is a particular scene where Korben puts the cab into a screaming dive right through several layers of traffic spread out vertically over what must be a half a mile. He is dodging cars back and forth and they keep cutting between a overhead follow cam shot and an interior camera shot which match amazingly well. Not only that but the animation of the cab’s antics are just seamless and potent as today’s effects.
Speaking of effects, you have to appreciate the the creature design in this film. With several different alien races, as well as an ultra futuristic human element, this movie has some of the best creature work I have seen. While a lot of the effect work in the creature department was “outdated,” even at the time, it is done in such a way that it actually enhances the feel of the movie.
Lastly, I am such a huge fan of the scene transitions that “The Fifth Element” has to offer. The tale is told quite chronologically and when several things are happening at once they used several clever transitions between different parts of the plot. There is a part at the end of a performance where one of the main characters is saying ‘Bravo, Bravo’ and it cuts to another character in a different location at the same time who is also saying bravo but in a completely different context. The cut is decisive but perfectly timed to make it flow and bring you right into the new situation. This is just one example of several amazing pieces of fantastic editing this flick offers.
All in all, “The Fifth Element” is a well designed and executed action and adventure film that takes elements of action, comedy and drama and seamlessly mixes them in a big bowl. Throw in a fantastic cast, good direction, mesmerizing production design and brilliant editing and you have yourself a recipe for one of the most watchable action flicks of the 90’s. I highly recommend that you pick up a Blu-ray copy of this film for it includes a flawless, high res version of the movie as well as loads of special features. And if you don’t feel like buying, then rent it or Netflix it, just make sure its on Blu-ray or another HD format. Hope you enjoyed this weeks flashback and as always, sit back, relax and enjoy a classic.