1997 was an amazing year for SciFi flicks with some of the most classic and iconic films and franchises either starting or continuing. I mean we had Starship Troopers (based on the book by Robert Heinlein), Men in Black (with the awesome Will Smith), Event Horizon, Star Trek: First Contact & for the more cerebral Contact (based on book by Carl Sagan) and Gattaca. Each of these films deserve a post on their own but one that also came out in the same year is The Fifth Element.
Now this was a completely unexpected and positive surprise with some amazing fight sequences, some great comedic gags, an interesting mythology and story and a very, very cool … … MUSICAL NUMBER. Yeah, I know quite unexpected but I have to be honest that operatic song/fight sequence is one of my most favorite parts of the movie and something that constantly keeps me coming back. If you’ve not seen the movie yet, I would highly recommend it if only for this sequence in fact as it is so perfectly timed and choreographed.
Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich were both excellent in this film. They had an amazing chemistry together and the underlying effects and story just added to the allure of this film. Looking back on it now there isn’t really anything that was wrong in this movie … they had the right actors and the right effects and overall it was quite an amazing thrill ride. The story is probably the weakest point of the whole film and even here its probably only in the introduction that it is somewhat let down. The science while perhaps a bit of a stretch with Leeloo and her perfection is actually extremely believable in regards to the weapons and vehicles. While they don’t really get into the details of hyperspace that can probably be excused. It is a somewhat depressing future though as it looks like a police state more than anything else however here’s hoping that Leeloo makes some appropriate changes to the status-quo!
Recap In an Nutshell
The basic premise of the Fifth Element is an ongoing fight between good and evil. On Earth in the time of the Pharaoh’s a sarcophagus was hidden by the Mondoshawan’s (a race of benevolent aliens). Every five thousand years the universe is threatened by evil and when the Mondoshawan’s realize that the sarcophagus is not safe where they’ve hidden it, they remove the sarcophagus and its contents so that they can return it in its time of need.
In 2263, the great evil appears in deep space in the form of a giant ball of black fire, and destroys an attacking Earth spaceship. Almost immediately the Mondoshawan’s attempt to return the weapon back to Earth where it can be used to defeat this evil, but before they are able to complete their journey the Mondoshawan spacecraft is destroyed by another race – the evil shape changing Mangalores.
Utilizing advanced scientific techniques the scientists of that era are able to rebuild Leeloominaï Lekatariba Lamina-Tchaï Ekbat De Sebat (shortened to Leeloo & played by Milla Jovovich) who is one of the Supreme Beings of the Universe. Leeloo manages to escape from the facility and literally falls into the lap of taxi driver (& former elite commando major) Korben Dallas (played by Bruce Willis) when she takes a swan dive from the building where they were holding her. Korben eventually gets her into the hands of Father Vito Cornelius. While Father Vito Cornelius (played by Ian Holm) knew about the prophecy and Leeloo’s place in it, he was not expecting the Fifth Element to be a woman and is initially nonplussed.
The Mondoshawan’s however had planned well and while they had the Fifth Element with them, the other four were with someone else they trusted – Diva Plavalaguna – an opera singer that is performing on a luxury intergalactic cruise. When Korben, the Mangalores, Leeloo and the greedy and cruel Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg (did I not mention him before … an awesome performance by Gary Oldman) all gather on the cruise ship … well lets just say that the aforementioned musical number is not the only enjoyable thing!
Plavalaguna is killed when the Mangalores attack the ship, but Dallas succeeds in retrieving the stones. During his struggle with the Mangalores he kills their leader. After shooting and seriously wounding Leeloo, Zorg finds a carrying case which he presumes contains the stones, and takes it back to his spacecraft, leaving behind a time bomb that forces the liner’s occupants to evacuate. Discovering the case to be empty, Zorg returns to the ship and deactivates his bomb, but a dying Mangalore sets off his own device, destroying the ship and killing Zorg. Dallas, Cornelius, Leeloo, and talk-show host Ruby Rhod (Chris Tucker) escape with the stones aboard Zorg’s spacecraft.
The four join up at the weapon chamber in the Egyptian temple as the great evil approaches. They activate the stones, but having witnessed and studied so much violence, Leeloo has become disenchanted with humanity and refuses to cooperate. Dallas confesses his love for Leeloo and kisses her. In response, Leeloo combines the power of the stones and releases the divine light; the great evil, now dormant, becomes another moon in Earth orbit.