May 11, 1997 -- "The Fifth Element" is the best-looking science fiction movie to come out in years, with fabulous sets, costumes and special effects, but its plot doesn't quite measure up to its appearance.
The story is about a battle between the forces of good and evil. With good being Leloo (Milla Jovovich) and evil being Zorg (Gary Oldman). Actually Zorg is the local dealer for evil, portrayed by a big blob of stuff in space.
The hero is a cab driver (who of course is more than just a cab driver) named Korben (Bruce Willis). The film starts out with a Stargate-like flashback to a discovery in Egypt, which according to Hollywood history, needs an spaceport control tower.
The opening of the film, by the clever plot device of prophecy, gives away the ending of the film. We jump ahead 300 years to the arrival of the Ultimate Being, Leelo, who we discover is genetically engineered to have bright orange hair.
She escapes from her government captors and lands in Korben's cab, which has a weak roof. She then contacts a priest, Father Cornelius (Ian Holm) who has been waiting for her arrival. She learns to fight evil by watching old Bruce Lee movies. That, of course, makes her invincible.
You may have sensed from this not-very-serious narrative that movie is not very serious. It isn't. There is comedy running through it, despite all the mayhem. There is sort of a love story in it. There's even some opera, but mainly it is a lot of fighting and explosions.
The movie digresses from this mix in the middle when it introduces a sort of transsexual talk show host character on a very strange off-world cruise. The story bogs down with too many subplots at this point, but then it straightens out again when the action resumes.
It's a pretty good movie, but it could have been better if it had concentrated more on the love story and minimized the subplots. The special effects and the sets are outstanding, as are the costumes. It ought to win awards for those. This film rates a B.
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