Genre Spotlight (Secret Santa): The Fifth Element


The Fifth Element is a weird movie. Almost every aspect of it is bizarre, and, for the most part, I can’t tell if it’s intentional or not. With a few caveats, it’s awesome.

Directed by serial Frenchman Luc Bessan, the Fifth Element takes place in the far-flung future (2200), and everything is different! New York is overcrowded!  People dress like crazy people! Cabbies are insanely bad drivers! Milla Jovavich is wearing such skimpy clothing that it’s almost misleading to call it clothing!

Spoiler: the 5th Element is hair dye.

The story is, back in 1914, these ridiculous looking robot aliens steal rocks and a body from a pyramid in Egypt. These objects are supposed to be able to stop the Great Evil (official title–they didn’t bother to actually name the villain), and the robot aliens promise they’ll bring them back to Earth for us to use. Things don’t work out.

We then jump forward in time to 2214, where the Great Evil is floating through space as a giant ball of fire, blowing up spaceships and stuff. The Great Evil has hired ludicrously hammy Gary Oldman to get rid of the Element Stones to prevent anyone stopping the Great Evil. Scientists grow Milla Jovovich from a disembodied hand they found; she hooks up with Bruce Willis; they save the universe. Along the way the hook up with the most irritating character in all of cinema, past, present, and future, Chris Tucker.

Chris Tucker almost single-handedly destroys this already ridiculous movie by being so ridiculous that it threatens to warp space and time. I can only attribute it to the directors exceeding sense of Frenchness. He is loud and obnoxious, aggressively unfunny, and looks like what a French person must think the rest of the world thinks clowns will look like in the future.

Another weak point is Gary Oldman. He overacts like his life depends on it–and has a haircut that defies explanation–and he’s working for a universe-destroying Great Evil to make money. The Great Evil’s goal, clearly stated to everyone in the movie and in the audience, is to destroy the universe. And Gary Oldman somehow thinks this will net him a payday. It’s…he didn’t think things through, is what I’m getting at.

However, Bruce Willis, boldly playing Bruce Willis, and Milla Jovavich are both good. The action sequences are great. The special effects still mostly hold up. And the movie is funny, despite Chris Tucker’s best efforts, especially when they play Jovovich’s child-like wonder and innocence off of Willis’ Bruce Willisness.

So, all in all, I’d say if you like Bruce Willis and/or sci-fi, it’s worth your time. Unless, of course, you have a Chris Tucker allergy.

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About Jonathan MacFarlane

Jonathan is a professional curmudgeon and amateur layabout. He makes art at FailureWhale.com; follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/j_macfarlane.

Posted on December 16, 2011, in Genre Spotlight, Secret Santa and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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