Couldn’t include this with the scheduled post, as we didn’t finish the movie until late last night, having watched it over two nights due to Phil’s shifts.
My Saturday night choice, is also a retro cult classic.
The Fifth Element (1997) is a science fiction movie, written and directed by Luc Besson. Starring Bruce Willis as cab driver Korben Dallas, Milla Jojovitch as Leeloo, Gary Oldman as Zorg, and Ian Holm as Father Cornelius.
The plot goes like this..
Back in 1914 aliens called the Mondoshawans come to earth to remove a weapon held in a temple in Egypt, that is capable of extinguishing a great Big Evil which comes about every 5000 years. They have to remove the weapon, which consistes of 4 elemental stones and a 5th element in a sarcophagus, as war is about to happen and it’s not safe. In doing so they cause the death of a scientist who is trying to decipher the wall markings in the temple, and his trusty assistant, Professor Pacoli (John Bluthal) and Billy (Luke Perry). The Mondo’s promise the priest who attends the temple that they will return the weapon before the next visitation of the Big Evil.
We move forward to 2263 and the Big Evil is on it’s way. The Mono’s are also on the way to return the weapon, but get ambushed by a bunch of Mangalores, ugly sons of guns on the pay of Zorg, (Gary Oldman doing a cracking job of over-the-top villany, ~ this is not a serious movie 🙂 ) who is enthralled to the Big Evil. They are destroyed and the only thing remaining is a severed hand covered in metal armour, which is taken to New York and given to the military’s science department, headed by Mactilburgh, (Christopher Fairbank – a long way from Newcastle & Auf Weidersehen Pet!). They stick the hand in a biotech coffiny type thing and 2 minutes later hey presto! a humanoid woman is reconstituted, with minimal clothing, and this is Leeloo. She escapes and in the chase sequence that follows, jumps off a high building and lands on and in Korben’s flying taxicab.
Dallas delivers her to Father Cornelius, after a few flying car chases along the way, and Cornelius and his assistant David (Charlie Creed-Mills) recognise her as the Fifth element. She tells Cornelius the stones were not on the ship with her, and at the same time the Mono’s inform Earths Govt, led by President Lindberg (Tommy Lister Jr.) what’s going on. Zorg gets mad that his Mangalores haven’t got the stones, and kills off a few of them in a hissy fit.
It turns out the stones have been entrusted to diva Plavalaguna (Maïwenn Le Besco) a very blue alien opera singer, about to do a concert on planet Fhloston, and it’s arranged for Korben to win a luxury holiday there to meet up and retrieve the stones, with Ruby Rhod (Chris Tucker) being an ostentatious flamboyent talk-show host who ends up dragged into the quest to save the world.
That’s it for spoilers, but needless to say everyone and his dog are after the stones, including Leeloo and Zorg, and the world does get saved. 🙂
This is a romp and a hoot of a movie, and we already had an old copy of the DVD. Recently it’s been released on a remastered 4K ultra HD Bluray, with Dolby atmos sound, which we are geared up for, so I had to have it. It is quite astonishing visually, and the soundtrack the best we have heard in Atmos. But it’s a treat in any format, Bruce Willis does his hero thing with sardonic aplomb, Jojovitch exudes steely vulnerability with pathos, and their love story is part of our journey with them. Gary Oldman is bonkersly evil, Chris Tucker does annoying in the funniest way possible. Ian Holm and Creed-Mills are worthy sidekicks.
Fun facts: Luc Besson was married to Maïwenn Le Besco at the beginning of the production and left her for Jojovich whomst later became his next Missis. (That didn’t last either, surprise).
It was mostly filmed in Pinewood studios, with the Royal Opera House for the concert scenes and Mauritania standing in for the Egypt scenes.
The special effects were created with scale models, live action and digital imagery, not just CGI. Apartment blocks and skyscrapers were constructed in 1/24th scale, so were 20 feet high in some cases, and took a team of 80 people to build them all.
Jean-Paul Gaultier designed all the 900 costumes for the extras in the Fhloston scenes and checked them all each morning. His designs were said to challenge sexuality and gender norms.
A divisive movie, it won awards at the Oscars, the BAFTA’s and Cannes amongst others, but also in the same categories for the Golden Raspberry and Stinker awards. The critics were equally polarised. Todd McCarthy of Variety: “A largely misfired European attempt to make an American-style sci-fi spectacular, The Fifth Element consists of a hodgepodge of elements that don’t comfortably coalesce”.
Roger Ebert for the Chicago Sun Times: gave the film 3 stars out of 4, calling it “One of the great goofy movies”, and concluding, “I would not have missed seeing this film, and I recommend it for its richness of imagery. though he thought it a bit long.
We absolutely loved it, I could hear Phil laughing out loud which doesn’t happen often in movies I choose, and it kept us enthralled from beginning to end. Wonderful world building, committed acting (you could tell the cast had a blast) great explosions and daft gunfights and the remastering is the best we’ve seen and heard. I can’t find a reason not to give it