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1997, Dir. Luc Besson
126 min. Rated PG-13.
Starring: Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, Gary Oldman, Ian Holm.

Review by Chad J. Shonk

Luc Besson's pet project, the most expensive film in European history, THE FIFTH ELEMENT could have been a great movie. Yeah, I know, coulda woulda fuckin' shoulda. But it's true. Let's go through the good, the bad, and the ugly:



1. Milla Jovovich. Besides the fact that she's really hot and therefore her playing the perfewct being isn't far fetched, she is actually really good in this movie. Half Truffaut's Wild Child and half Ellen Ripley, she manages to pull off Besson's made up language and actually makes it look as if it's saying something. The panic wit which she deals with her resurrection shows a range that's never been seen before. I think she's really cool in this movie except for the Bruce Lee kung-fu scene that wasn't her fault but Besson's.

2. Bruce Willis. Bruce has got the working-class hero bullshit down to a tee. He delivers one-liners like a pro and some of the reaction looks he gives the camera are priceless. I think he was the perfect choice for Corbin Dallas because he can easily blend the humor and action and even a little bit of tenderness in to a hero we automatically identify with.

3. Gary Oldman. Isn't he always cool? The master of the accent (from Russian to Transylvanian to Australian to Drexl), Oldman creates his weirdest character to date. Zorg is basically Foghorn Leghorn on crack and holding a big gun. He manages to make what would have been the conventional weird villian guy and turns him in to a comic tour-de-force.

4. The story. Now, remember I said story and not script. It is possible to make a good movie from a bad script. Remember, this is science fiction. The story istself is very traditional in a sci-fi/fantasy realm. The questing hero searching for an artifact which will save the world. THE DARK CRYSTAL, THE NEVERENDING STORY, every Dungeons and Dragons campaign. However, THE FIFTH ELEMENT has a twist. The artifact is a person. And the hero, by falling in love with that artifact, becomes, it turns out, part of that artifact that is needed to save the world. Pretty cool. And the fact that love is the fifth element, while sappy and melodramatic, is a good idea. It just shouldn't have been so obvious. But that's a script problem, not a story one.

5. The Special Effects. Thry're pretty cool even though you can tell that most of them are done on a computer.



1. Chris Tucker. I hate to say this. It hurts me deep down. But Chris Tucker isn't very good in this movie. In fact, he's fucking annoying. It started off well enough, with Tucker playing some futuristic version of Prince (or the artist formerly known as Prince, or the Artist, or O(+>, or whatever.) Pretty cool. I mean, Prince is the coolest guy in creation, so why not? But then gunfire starts, and Tucker becomes a screaming queen. Prince wouldn't do that. He'd lick 'em or fuck 'em with his guitar, but he wouldn't go around screaming like a pussy. Even that is funny for a few minutes, but he won't shut the hell up. He makes Smokey sound like Barry White.

2. The opera singer. The diva. Is it just me, or does she look like the illegitimate daughter of Bib Fortuna and Smurfette? I think we're supposed to be moved by her "beautiful soul-searching" performance, but most people just laugh. She sounds like Mariah Carey on helium and she bleeds blue. Plus, the stones are hidden in her stomach. What a dumb fucking idea.

2. The script. Rumor has it Besson wrote this movie in the sixth grade, and you can tell. It's about as subtle as Oliver Stone on lithium and only a handful of the one liners work. You know, I'd like to see an action movie where all the star says is "Shit!" or "Fuck!" because that's what most people say when they're getting shot at, not "Does anyone else want to negotiate?" Yeah, cool line, but who would actually come up with that after shooting a bunch of big ass ugly alien guys? There isn't enough serious cience fiction these days. Everything is over-the-top Brazilesque futures. (For a notable exception, see GATTACA.) Luc Besson is no Terry Gilliam. He doesn't have the self control to create such a stylized, outlandish future. He should have made it a little more serious and not given everyone a big ass hat that serves no purpose.



1. Those aliens. What the fuck?

2. Tiny 'Zeus' Lister. Now, I'm a big supporter of Mr. Lister. I mean, who else could have played Deebo? But come on. THE PRESIDENT OF THE FUCKING FEDERATION? That's the most retarded thing I've ever heard of in my life.


I don't know. It was an okay movie. I guess I'm just trying to say that I see a lot of good in there, but it was wasted. THE FIFTH ELEMENT coulda woulda shoulda been a great movie. I'm just trying to figure out what went wrong.


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