Top critical review
3 people found this helpful
Cinéma du Look goes high camp in the 23rd century!
on 25 December 2013
Luc Besson is famed for his "Cinéma du Look" style, epitomised by gorgeous visuals and sometimes criticised as a triumph of style over substance. The Fifth Element is no exception and, if you enjoyed Besson's The Big Blue, you are sure to appreciate the wonderful eye-candy on offer in The Fifth Element. At the time of its production this was by far the most expensive movie ever made outside of Hollywood - and it shows.
It all kicks off with a nicely atmospheric scene in 1914 with Egyptologists examining mysterious hieroglyphics, when their studies are suddenly interrupted by the appearance of an impressively massive spaceship and the kind of OTT Jean-Paul Gaultier-styled aliens that the producers of Doctor Who would probably reject with hoots of derision! And that sets the tone for the remaining two hours of this quirky movie; some stunning visuals, some self-parodying humour, some breakneck action and lots and lots of extreme campiness! The main source of inspiration for The Fifth Element was old French sci-fi comic strips, but the careful viewer will spot the occasional influence of the likes of Blade Runner, 2001, Total Recall, Alien and Star Wars. There's a pretty strong cast. Bruce Willis, as the reluctant hero, plays it surprisingly straight but puts in a commendable performance, whereas Gary Oldman makes an outrageously boo-hiss villain. Milo Jovovitch looks quite stunning in a masking tape bikini and is suitably other-worldly and Ian Holm has a strong supporting role. Nice cameo from Lee Evans too!
So far so good. If you sense there's a 'but' coming, you'd be right. Some scenes dragged on a bit - particularly with the irritating Ruby Rhod (Chris Tucker) and, overall, it struck me as a tad too whimsical and lightweight for its own good. In terms of eye-candy, The Fifth Element can compete with the best of them, but there really didn't feel like there was much substance behind the fluff.
The Blu-ray presentation is generally good, with a little grain in certain scenes, but mostly sharp images and vivid colours. Surround sound is used to good effect too.
Overall, worth a look, if you can at least partly disengage your brain, just go with the flow and remember that this isn't meant to be profound sci-fi and probably has more in common with Red Dwarf than with say 2001 or Blade Runner!