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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Fifth Element

A sci-fi movie short on substance but long on appearance

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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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.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 1997 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)