Film Scouts Reviews

"The Fifth Element"

by Leslie Rigoulot

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First, I loved the trailer and commercial for "The Fifth Element" because it was all style and no substance. Sure you knew it was set in the future and featured Bruce Willis as the hero and Gary Oldman as the baddie, but it wasn't like the trailer for "My Best Friend's Wedding" that gives us Julia Roberts' entire plot line. So there is a lot to look forward to in this dynamic sci-fi adventure.

Second, I have to admit I was looking forward to seeing fashion's bad boy Jean-Paul Gaultier doing costumes for a futuristic story. They add so much without distracting from the story, sort of like the special effects. Those are combination of digital and model effects and create fantastic whole new worlds.

So I go to see "The Fifth Element" and am completely entertained, beginning to end. The pace is perfect, the combination of international casting superb and the cinematography sublime. Plotwise, every five thousand years a doorway opens between dimensions so good and evil can duke it out. In the Egyptian pyramids the four elements of fire, earth, water and wind combine with the fifth element, life, to form the only defense against the anti-matter, evil. Sure, the first aliens look like juke boxes with legs but it gets better. There is the one and only Bruce Willis as a 23rd century New York cabbie who has Milla Jovovich drop into his cab and life. It is to Willis' credit that he can hold his own with Ian Holm as the priest who understands the importance of the five elements. Holm is best known to American audience's as the android in "Alien" but others will recognize him from "The Madness of King George", or Branagh's "Frankenstein". Amazingly he portrays an Italian restaurateur in "Big Night" and an Irish cop in Sidney Lumet's "Night Falls on Manhattan" which will open May 16. And speaking of talent, is there any greater range than Gary Oldman's? He is so adaptable and extraordinary that we forget he is from South London. Americans have come to think of him as one of their own in everything from "JFK" to "Bram Stoker's Dracula". Only he could carry off the over-the- top outfits that Gaultier fashions for his villain.

Jovovich is the Supreme Being that is sent to save the universe and after seeing her in the Gaultier 'bandage' costume, I'm sure a lot of men will agree that she is the supreme being. Truly international, she is the daughter of a Russian actress and Yugoslavian pediatrician who emigrated to Sacramento. Her career began in modeling at age eleven and she make quite an impression in "Chaplin" as the comedian's first wife. You won't soon forget Chris Tucker as Ruby Rhod, a cross between Howard Stern and Prince. If you want more of him, check out last year's "Dead Presidents" or wait for "Money Talks". I can't et enough of Lee Evans, who has a bit as a cruise ship officer. He blew me away in the little seen comedy "Funny Bones" and will next be seen in "Mouse Hunt" with Nathan Lane.

The man who brought all of this together is the French director, Luc Besson. Even if you aren't familiar with his "The Big Blue", "The Professional" or "La Femme Nikita" you will instantly admire his style. He takes a simple story, a fable even and makes it more. He combines intense action with a light touch, a sense of humor with dark irony and he makes going to the movies fun.

Chosen to open the prestigious 50th Annual Cannes Film Festival, "The Fifth Element" is exciting, entertaining, elegant, and elaborate. I love it!

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