The Fifth Element: A lot easier on the eyes than Boron

An evil planet, a cabbie, and natural element number 5: Boron

As I might have mentioned in my article last Monday, I don’t really get much of a chance to see too many movies.  Well, that’s not entirely accurate.  I have Netflicks, and there are always theaters around if I really, really want to make a day of it, but generally I tend to avoid watching full length feature films.  Still, I’ve been watching Elrood and Enosh pound out movie review after movie review, I’ve been itching to give it a try myself.

So, after my complete and utter failure to watch the awfully terrible GI Joe movie last week, I decided to try something I knew I could sit through.  I last saw The Fifth Element back in college (which was an increasingly depressing long time ago), but didn’t remember much about the film, which I chalked up to the film being not that interesting.  I was informed by my brother over the weekend that it was actually halfway decent, so I booted it up to see what its deal was.

Turns out, it’s a pretty solid action film, even if it does have a tendency to fall into some pretty obvious sci-fi clichés along the way.  Bear with me!  Spoilers, probably, maybe?  Though since this film was from what?  1997?  I’m willing to bet most people know the plot by now.

The Fifth Element starts out in the bygone year of 1914, where an aging archaeologist and his…  son or something, are investigating ancient, spooky ruins in Egypt.  Where in Egypt?  Dunno!  Deal with it!  Anyway, the professor is making great strides in deciphering the ancient hieroglyphics, which talk about some kind of battle between good and evil and how you’re supposed to use the power of the four elements, plus a mystery fifth one, to save all life in the galaxy.  Or universe.  Whichever makes the movie more interesting for you.

According to my notes (yes, I took notes.  I have a bad memory, okay?)  Old Beard Man is unhappy about the expedition, so he resolves to poison everyone to keep things on the down low.  Before he can, though, ALIENS land outside, and slowly waddle their way inside, whereupon they steal some rocks, kill an old guy, and then abscond with the whole shebang.

A Waddlebeast in all his pointy shouldered glory

My notes call these aliens Waddlebeasts.  They’re large (big-boned), have shoulders covered with pointy things, to ward off birds, probably, and have very tiny heads.  Their space suits put special effect lights right between their legs.  Not sure why.  Anyway, after telling Old Beard Man to calm the eff down because the evil apocalypse won’t happen for 300 years, the Waddlebeasts get back in their space ship and leave.

Three hundred years later, humanity is orbiting around, what my notes refer to as Swirly Evil Fire Planet.  Because we’re humans, we quickly resolve to blow that shit right up, but that only pisses it off.  After this point, everyone seems to say “eh, okay we tried,” and lose interest, sending away the one guy who actually knows anything about the Evil Swirly Planet and how we might be able to blow it up more effectively.

Anyway, that’s the back story.  On one side, you have EVIL, which is pretty easy to identify.  On the other side you have GOOD, which you know is supposed to probably be the Fifth Element.  That’s right.  BORON.

SAVE US BORON AAAAHHH

Okay, not really.  Elements in this case are more traditional water, fire, wind, and earth.  The fifth one, as it turns out, is a hot chick.  Which is okay by me.  Milla Jovovich is a lot easier on the eyes than Boron.  Besides, the film probably wouldn’t have been as compelling if Boron was the hero.  What the hell is Boron, anyway?  Wikipedia says it’s a metalloid, which is obviously a secret liquid spy that has been placed among the metals in order to infiltrate their society.

Anyway, this whole mess ends up falling into the cab of Corben Dallas (played by Bruce Willis) after the Fifth Element (played by Milla Jovovich) escapes a science facility after being wrapped in some skimpy medical bandages.  Dallas is a cabbie!  Or maybe he’s a car thief?  He could have been an ex-military operative.  Dunno.  The movie switches between backstories for Dallas when it’s convenient, which is okay.  Willis is a decent enough of an actor to take them all in stride, while still coming across as a reluctant, I-probably-shouldn’t-get-involved-but-she’s-hot archetype character.

Jovovich has a bit of a harder roll to fill.  First off, for most of the film she speaks in a completely illegible dialect which had to have been a bitch to get right.  Or maybe she was just making it up as she went, who knows.  Anyway, without the standard ways to build character, Jovovich has to make The Fifth Element (or Leel00 to her friends) actually likable.  She does this with facial expressions, inappropriate laughter, and by repeating the five words she does know with enthusiasm.

Milla Jovovich as Leeloo, who is apparently tripping balls right now.

There are some other supporting roles here, too, like Ian Holm as the unconfident but dedicated father Cornelius, Charlie Creed-Miles as his bumbling assistant.  They’re both eclipsed, however, by Gary Oldman, who plays as the films secondary evil villain, Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg.  Yeah, calm down, that’s not really a spoiler.  When a character shows up with a overly long emo-mowhawk shoved into a plastic helmet thing who is quick to dispense the dark glowers, you pretty much know where they stand in the grand scheme of things.  Plus, everyone calls him Zorg, which is a dead give a way.  It starts with a Z, for crying out loud.  Everyone should have seen it coming.

Errr, anyway, yeah.  Oldman is equal parts brilliance, ruthlessness, and insanity as Zorg, which actually made the cookie-cutter villain archetype somewhat refreshing.  So there’s that.

Oh, also, big warning:  THERE IS CHRIS TUCKER IN THIS FILM.

No, I'm not sure what's going on with Chris Tucker's hair either.

If you do not like Chris Tucker at all, avoid this film.  His character, Ruby Rhod, a hyperactive radio personality with a love for the ladies, is Chris Tucker at his squeakiest, loudest, and most irritating.  Though, he does spend most of his time in the film being thrown around, so there’s that to look forward to. He might have been the reason I wrote this film off as mediocre the first time around, but this time I was expecting him and it safely upgraded the movie’s status to “pleasantly okay.”

Anyway, I mentioned some pretty obvious sci-fi movie clichés early on, and then just talked about Waddlebeasts and Bruce Willis and hot, barely dressed superweapon chicks!

First off, I touched on this with Zorg, but you can easily identify which aliens are good and which ones are evil.  Because the evil ones will be ugly.  Hideously, unashamedly ugly.  I think the movie gives us an actual reason why most of society hates them, but it was a bit tacked on.  Ugly aliens are like Nazis in movies- you know all you need to know about them in the first five minutes because they’re just BAD.  Some actual character development would go much farther.

Actually, as outfits go this is pretty standard game in sci-fi films.

Second, sci-fi outfits never made a lot of sense to me.  I’m not talking about Leeloo’s medical wear that was really just an excuse to see Milla Jovovich topless, or the standard issued flight attendent look-at-my-chest garb, because that’s pretty much a genre staple.  No, I’m talking about ridiculously impractical body armor suits for cops, futuristic clasp-on-the-shoulder science robes, and this orange…  vest? thing?  that Bruce Willis wears for most of the film.

There’s a couple of others, from the mandatory impromptu alien autopsy under high duress, watching a freaky blue alien chick sing some kind of opera techno song, and the fact that Dr. Evil is apparently working for the President of the United States World.  Oh god, the President.  If you want me to actually point at what the weakest link is in this film, it’s Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister, acting as President Lindberg.  His lines are delivered flat and dead, and at one point he actually looks drunk off his ass while on set.  It was a bit jarring.  Luckily he’s just a secondary character so it’s not that big of a deal.

"How come no one ever invites us to parties?"

Anyway, the Fifth Element was a pretty solid movie that actually kept my attention, which is pretty odd for movies these days.  Though now that I really think about it, I’m not really sure what’s going on in it.  This Evil Swirly Planet thing is never really explained, it just is. And everyone said it wants to kill all life in the galaxy/universe, but it seems to only really care about Earth, so I’m not sure what’s up with that.  But anyway, if you don’t dig too deep and try not to think of all the places you’ve seen this stuff before, it’s actually a pretty solid film.

One last tidbit from me, and then I’ll bring this to a close.  In my scrawlings while I was watching this film, I apparently wrote the phrase “freaky elephant cat,” but now I can’ t seem to remember what it was referencing. So there’s something else for you.  It’ll be like a special scavenger hunt special from me to you.

When it comes to belching contests, the Diva is a champ.

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11 Responses

  1. Way to rock the movie review Tophat! I gotta say, this movie has significantly more plot than I remember. All I remembered was half naked chick and Bruce Willis runnin around all Blade Runner like. I forgot just how ridiculous and over the top it was. Kinda like a fun version of Total Recall.

  2. So, my husband has been wanting me to watch this movie, and I keep putting it off, due to I saw about 5 minutes of it in college, and I think it was the part with the scary blue lady pictured at the end of your post. So I wrote the movie off as weird and not worth watching. I also don’t like Chris Tucker in films, so there’s another reason. But, maybe I’ll give it a shot next time he mentions watching it. Although I think I’d like it better if the 5th element was actually boron.

    • p.s. do i always have to be a weird lobster thingy in the picture? it’s creepy :-P

  3. Freaky elephant cat is Gary Oldman’s pet, fyi.

    • Gah! I my quest is ruined!

      Fifth Element is one of those movies I feel obligated to enjoy. It has Bruce Willis, lots of orange, boobs, fighting, Zeus, blue aliens break dancing to opera. All the ingredients for success. But it has never equaled the sum of its parts. I blame Chris Tucker.

  4. Oh right! It was that sniggering, multicolored elephant thing that lives in a compartment in Zorg’s desk! God that thing was creepy.
    Sky: I think the only way to change that is to get a wordpress account and then set up your user pic. I’m not sure how WP chooses who gets what freaky alien. I mean hell, Elrood’s been a sassy ghost-alien thing since we started this blog.

    • bummer. i guess i’ll be a scary lobster forever!

  5. So, I watched The Fifth Element last night. Kinda strange, especially the Waddlebeasts, which made me laugh hysterically, but the whole movie was also just plain weird. I did enjoy Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich (do you think I should dye my hair orange?), but I averted my eyes during all the Chris Tucker parts. That man just gives me the creeps. At any rate, I’m glad I won’t be here in 200 years, because apparently the future is going to be messed up like whoa.

  6. [...] both functional and symbolic of their super-rescue scheme. Anyhow, as one of the Waddlebeasts (as another blogger calls them) is trudging along to the closing stone gate of the temple, an Egyptians beckons it to [...]

  7. [...] far the highest number of search terms that bring people to Faceplant revolve around the movie The Fifth Element. Tophat had no idea the can of worms he was opening when he reviewed the cult classic sci-fi flick. [...]

  8. […] She does look a bit like one of the waddlebeasts from the movie, the Fifth Element: […]

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