The Fifth Element (1997)
250 years in the future, all will be lost unless the fifth element is found.
I watch this movie at least once a year, it's in my favored circulation. There's many a reason for this that we can get to later one, just as there are reasons that it's not the perfect movie by definition - although I think we could all argue that the perfect movie in reality isn't the flawless one, but the one that we can overlook all it's shortcomings because it's just that much fun. Can this Captain Planet of movies prove elemental to having fun, or will it just be that other sci fi flick with the cast of people you know from other movies?
A nice title pan of space shows us a spaceship approaching Earth. Down in Egypt, a kid arrives on camel-back with water for the other kids and the archeology team inside. The professor inside has found carved on the wall a tale of ultimate evil causing chaos and death, and being confronted and destroyed by a divine weapon. To create this weapon, it would appear that those in ancient times gathered four elements around a different one - a fifth element - to create the divine beam that banishes the evil, and this process is one to be repeated every 5000 years - nothing they need to worry about, as that would put it 300 years in their future. A priest arrives and realizes how much they have discovered, deciding because such that he must poison them to keep the secret. His plan is thwarted when nobody drinks the poisoned water, however, and the aliens make landfall outside the temple. They thank the priest for his service, warn him that war is coming and the stones (from the wall-script) are not safe, and go to retrieve them after dispatching of the professor who now knows too much. The Professors helper causes trouble when he panickedly draws a gun, and it then falls upon the priest to continue passing down his knowledge in order to be ready for their return in 300 years.
300 years later, a mysterious planet forms out in space. The military vessel witnessing it's formation sends in a probe, but nothing useful comes back and the president back home and his military advisors are debating trying to destroy it. A priest present informs them this is a bad idea, laying down the backstory legend we just witnessed in the pre-show, but they decide to fire at the planet contrary to his advice. Turns out it was in fact a bad move, and now the planet is even larger than before, and the ship has been destroyed. Thankfully, the alien species has arrived at Federation borders requesting clearance to come to Earth and thereby deliver the divine weapon against evil. All is saved, or rather it would be if another more aggressive alien species didn't gun down their ship. All appears lost, until the lab gets an arm with some surviving cells with which they re-construct it's original owner - the (for lack of better word) perfect being. She escapes the lab when they all get off on the wrong foot, crashing into a the taxi cab of our main hero, and thus begins their adventure.
After running from the cops and successfully escaping, the taxi driver brings the perfect one to the priest who was talking to the president. Things are now in motion - the perfect one is in fact the fifth element from the old wall carvings - and the race to find the stones is now on. The aliens who stole the case with the stones visits one greedy and downright unpleasant guy, who has promised them four crates of his newest, high tech gun system for the box with four stones in it - the only hitch is that the box doesn't contain any stones. Being a race of warriors, the aliens "convince" the man to leave behind some guns for their cause - which backfires on them when one hits a button that causes them to explode, wounding their leader and setting the desire for revenge in them. Meanwhile, we learn from the perfect woman that the stones are elsewhere, which the president then finds out, to which the taxi driver (whose ex-military) ends up being re-employed to go and get. Will the good guys manage to get the stones and save the world from evil, or will they blow it and evil win out?
Essentially just a plot to save the world, whatever description I give wouldn't do it's execution in the movie justice. Actors here - specifically our main ones - do a great job of acting, delivering some pretty convincing roles and interacting with each other well. The part that takes this one step further than your average plot execution, however, is how well it handles things like foreshadowing without calling attention to it. As if that wasn't enough, the way the scenes are cut together keeps things flowing smoothly - often time answering one characters questions (such as "where are the stones") by directly cutting to the scene where the answer is being shown ("they're not here!") and then back again to explain where they really are. It's an incredibly elaborate manner of things that you often don't see being used to this extent or effectiveness that makes it stand out from a lot of other movies - and also effectively prevents the main human baddy from meeting our male hero during the course of the movie.
Practical effects here are wonderful, and there's nowhere better to draw the attention to that then the aliens. From the pudgy, robotic bird-like aliens out to save our world and everything else to the dog-headed angry warriors who can shapeshift to some extent to pass as normal humans, there is plenty of variety in the three or four actual alien races seen. Humans try not to be too left out, having a diverse breadth of colorful costumes - some of which look futuristic like the bulky layers of the police force, and some of which seem more like something out of a drunken party. Each character has their trademark look in the main four, but the side characters don't want to be shown up either - from lovely gowns (on both ladies and a crossdressing man), flamboyant pants with an innovative robbery-hat, straight in to Ruby Rod's outlandish haircuts. Of course, guns run about as many shapes and sizes as the size of the cast, but they all end up being satisfying (and who doesn't remember the ZF-1). Computer effects exist in here as well, and although they certainly aren't up to todays ridiculous quality standards, they hold up pretty well (even when updated onto Blu Ray disc on a 100 inch screen) and don't outright distract from the fun on screen.
Audio is a fun thing as well. The musical score in this one is a powerful usage - with a plethora of songs. You have your upbeat chase music that makes you want to dance, the alien Opera song that's beautiful and then energetic and futuristic, and that one quizzical and playful tune that gets played frequently but was nowhere to be found on the actual soundtrack (you'll know it when you hear it). The rest of audio is pretty well done, and although a couple of extras deliver lines rather stale, the core group does an amazing job. Special effects ring through, but not loud enough that you can't hear the actors either.
Final verdict: I'd certainly tell other people to watch this movie. It's not really for kids necessarily - a bit of nudity, a bit of suggestive material is in there, and of course you have all the action-movie violence - even though it is a pretty fun movie. It's worth a watch at least once, especially if you like science fiction or movies that do fancy movie-editing type things (for how the plot is presented with interconnecting scenes). It has it's charms, and interjects plenty enough comedy to keep it amusing as it entertains. Like I said before - I watch it once a year at least, so I obviously see something likeable in it. That being said, it isn't really perfect in the sense that it doesn't show a little age or have its problems (an example of a problem: watch LeeLoo's hair throughout the movie), but it's still a blast regardless.