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The Fifth Element

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Fifth Element

Starring: Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman
Director: Luc Besson
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 122 Minutes
Release Date: May 1997
Genres: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action, Cult

*Also starring: Luke Perry, Milla Jovovich, Ian Holm, Chris Tucker, Lee Evans, Yolanda Garza, Nina Brosh

Review by Walter Frith
0 stars out of 4

Next to comedy, science fiction is probably the most difficult and often misfired form of filmmaking there is. The key to it is to make it somewhat believable even though you know all along it isn't and people have to relate to their movie characters to truly enjoy two hours of leisurely time spent in a movie theatre. The 'Star Wars' series worked because the trilogy gave us characters you could truly root for and characters you truly loved to hate. The 'Star Trek' series has worked so well because of it's mystical and intellectual profile not enjoyed by everyone but certainly by its loyal followers who have contributed more to that side of pop culture than practically any other on film. Television's 'The X-Files' works magnificently because of its central theme of government deception and conspiracy which is certainly a reality to anyone with common sense and its FBI connection has characters both very human and very vulnerable.

The Egyptian connection. It was used as the central plot of 1994's 'Stargate' starring Kurt Russell and James Spader. The Egyptian connection. It is duplicated in 'The Fifth Element' which is a wasted and tiresome science fiction creation looking to establish new rules for that genre and it fails miserably.

In 'The Fifth Element', the story begins in 1914 Egypt where historians are tracking ancient carvings in a desert structure believed to be the sign of mankind's destruction on Earth as an evil alien entity will eventually annihilate the planet. The opening scene has alien creatures in large mechanical outfits that look curiously like Alice the Goon from the old Popeye the sailor comics. The ancient wall carvings also indicate that a FIFTH ELEMENT next to the other four which are earth, wind, fire and water will act as a defender to prevent this destruction. The story then jumps three hundred years into the future to New York City and this prophecy begins to take shape. The police officers of the future look very much like the creations in 'Judge Dredd' (1995) which was a laughably bad action film starring Sylvester Stallone. 'The Fifth Element' has Bruce Willis playing a loserly cab driver whose career was once in full swing as a high profile military man and now the military wants him back to save the world (the plot gets trivial and tedious here) and Willis looks more like a needle in a hay stack than he does a leading man as he is surrounded by visually striking sets and effects which despite their convincing nature, drown out the characters from developing into anything more than cardboard cut outs. A priest (Ian Holm) is also central to the plot as he discovers that through generations in his family of passing down a secret legend that a fugitive from justice that Willis has rescued is none other than the fifth element (Milla Jovovich) which is an alien life form created by man as an alien/human hybrid. Destiny, it seems has brought them together to save all of human life on Earth. Oh, brother, is this hokey or what?!

The film takes on a moronic imitation of not only 'Stargate' but 'Blade Runner', 'Close Encounters' and almost any science fiction theme you can imagine. Its climax is predictable, bogged down with unfunny humour and protracted excitement. Other members of the cast include Gary Oldman and Chris Tucker. 'The Fifth Element' is directed with a wooden hand by Luc Besson who should not attempt another run at science fiction but rather a run out of the movie business altogether as it will be hard to redeem himself after this movie masquerading as art but coming off as trashy cloning of films gone by. One of 1997's most disappointing films to date.

Copyright 1997 Walter Frith

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