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FIFTH ELEMENT, THE

SYNOPSIS:
A story about love and survival, heroes and villains, good and evil, set in a strangely familiar yet intoxicatingly different 23
rd Century. Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis) is a New York cabbie who drives a flying taxi. In order to save the world from the ball of fire zooming through space, Dallas becomes an unlikely hero, when he is sent to a luxury resort on a space cruiser to recover the stones representing the four elements, earth, air, fire and water. The four elements need to be put together with the fifth, which comes in the form of a beautiful genetically engineered girl, Leeloo (Milla Jovovich). Zorg, (Gary Oldman) the evil lord tries to stop good from overcoming evil.

"Luc Besson has come up with a scream of a futuristic sci-fi extravaganza, with a mťlange of extravagant special effects, bizarre characters, cute concepts, and charismatic leads, all thrust together in a fable-like story with humour. Admittedly, there are holes in the piece, but once committed to the ride, it is reasonably easy to forgive the flaws. Bruce Willis as Korben Dallas is terrific, and solidly anchors the fantasy into a human tale. Willis shines in these roles, as the unlikely hero, who saves the day, or as in this case, saves the world. Milla Jovovich (Leeloo), with her impossibly orange hair, wide-spaced turquoise eyes, sylph-like body and baby-doll look, is the epitome of sci-fiís 10 - perfect. Jovovich is charming, as she utters her nonsensical tirade of unknown blahblah language. And Chris Tucker as the radio star Ruby Rhod is a screaming hyena on heat. It's a lot of fun and there are incidental characters who will leave an impression: the faceless bartender robot, the Diva - a close relation to Lisa Marieís character in Mars Attacks. Itís not a laugh a minute, but the humour builds up, and even the violence is tinged with it. Designer Jean-Paul Gaultier must have had a field day dreaming up the costumes, which are lush and vibrant. The Fifth Element brings new meaning to flying through traffic and chinese take-away to your door; while McDonalds and Qantas may get ideas for a whole new look!"
Louise Keller

Plot, characterisation, structure --- all inherent elements of film language, at least by conventional Hollywood standards. But not in Luc Besson's outlandishly frenetic sci-fi action comedy The Fifth Element. Yet that lack of convention doesn't seem to matter in a movie that simply bristles with brazen originally, visual fluidity and a sense of its own flashy style. Bruce Willis is perfectly cast, as another reluctant hero, a cynical ex-law enforcer-turned-New York cabbie, who stumbles on this plot to destroy the world, and with the help of a beleaguered priest and a gorgeous extra terrestrial, is out to save it. Besson has designed a future with flying cars and a visionary dress sense, aided by remarkable costume designer Jean-Paul Gaultier, whose work matches the stylisation of Dan Weil's imaginative production design. The Fifth Element is not original in terms of plot and genre, but Besson is truly a cinematic artist, and his film is immersed in flashy colour, style and astonishing effects, many of which have never been done before. Apart from Willis, there's a delightful performance by Britain's Ian Holm as the thankless priest, and the always-reliable Gary Oldman makes a first-rate villain. But the real star of this is movie is the power of cinema itself. Besson has taken a conventional genre and turned it upside down on its flashy ears, to create an extraordinary pastiche of colour and movement. Its plot may be incomprehensible [though its moral anti-war message tidies things up rather nicely], but forget everything you've read or heard. Come along for the ride; it's bumpy at times, but you'll be in for one hell of a journey.
Paul Fischer.

"Yes, a mish-mash is what it, as Todd says, and hence the "American-style" tag: it carries less venom, less hate and its violence is more from the comic book class. This is at least one reason why the film may have a broader audience than the Die Harder American films. (It may not be BIGGER, but it could be WIDER.) The "mythololgical, quasi religious" aspects to which he refers are perhaps alien to mainstream American audiences because life is much simpler in the land of the American Dream. Isnít it? Middle Americans do like their films fairly squarely between the eyes, although the mythological, quasi religious mumbo jumbo of that great adventure film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, didnít attract this sort of criticism. This is not to defend The Fifth Element, Iím just debating the comments . . . In my view, the filmís biggest fault lies elsewhere: Luc Besson has allowed too many of his cast to overact. This alone has reduced the filmís credibility to the level of an afternoon tv series, despite the efforts of Bruce Willis to keep it straight. The rampant imaginations of all the designers deserve praise for their muscular creations, and the visual impact overall is great. There are a few silly touches, granted, such as the final location of the secret stones, but the seamless inclusion of hundreds of optical and CGI effects are stunning."
Andrew L. Urban

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FIFTH ELEMENT, THE
(US)

CAST: Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Milla Jovovich, Ian Holm, Chris Tucker, Luke Perry, Brion James, Lee Evans, Tricky

DIRECTOR: Luc Besson

PRODUCER: Patrice LeDoux

SCRIPT: Robert Mark Kamen

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Thierry Arbogast

EDITOR: Sylvie Landra

MUSIC: Eric Serra

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Dan Weil

RUNNING TIME: 127 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 15, 1997

OPENING FILM: 50th CANNES FILM FESTIVAL 1997

See Louise Keller's report in Features







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