THE FIFTH ELEMENT  [Limited Edition Steelbook] [Blu-ray] [UK Release] This Film is Primed to Explode! This is the Ride! Two Thumbs Up!
Bruce Willis plays Korben Dallas, a New York cabbie who picks up the type of fare that only comes along once every 5,000 years. Leeloo [Milla Jovovich] isn’t just the perfect beauty; she’s also the perfect weapon. As planet Earth is about to be wiped out, the pair set off on a deadly mission to find a set of stones that represent the four elements and unite them with the fifth. But what is the Fifth Element? From Luc Besson the acclaimed director of ‘LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL’ and ‘NIKITA’ comes a film that reinvents the sci-fi genre. ‘The Fifth Element’ takes you on an adrenaline-filled journey to a new dimension of sumptuous visuals and spectacular explosions.
FILM FACT: 1998 Academy Awards® Nominated: Best Sound Editing for Mark Mangini. 1997 British Academy of Film and Television Arts: Won: Best Special Visual Effects for Mark Mangini. 1997 Cannes Film Festival: Won: Technical Grand Prize for Thierry Arbogast. 1998 César Award: Won: Best Cinematography for Thierry Arbogast. Won: Best Director for Luc Besson. Won: Best Production for Design Dan Weil. Nominated: Best Costume Design for Jean Paul Gaultier. Nominated: Best Editing for Sylvie Landra. Nominated: Best Film for Luc Besson. Nominated: Best Music Written for a Film for Éric Serra. Nominated: Best Sound for Daniel Brisseau. 1997 European Film Awards: Nominated: Film of the Year for Patrice Ledoux. 1997 Lumières Award: Won: Best Director for Luc Besson.
Cast: Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Milla Jovovich, Ian Holm, Chris Tucker, Luke Perry, Brion James, Tommy 'Tiny' Lister Jr., Lee Evans, Charlie Creed-Miles, Tricky, John Neville, John Bluthal, Mathieu Kassovitz, Christopher Fairbank, Kim Chan, Richard Leaf, Julie T. Wallace, Al Matthews, Maïwenn, John Bennett, Sonita Henry, Tim McMullan, Hon Ping Tang, George Khan, John Hughes, Bill Reimbold, Colin Brooks, Anthony Chinn, Sam Douglas, Martin McDougall, Pete Dunwell, Stewart Harvey-Wilson, David Fishley, Carlton Chance, Gin Clarke, Christopher Adamson, Tyrone Tyrell, Kevin Brewerton, Sonny Caldinez, Zeta Graff, Michael Culkin, Lenny McLean, Robert Oates, John Sharian, Sibyl Buck, Robert Clapperton, Robert Alexander, Mia Frye, J.D. Dawodu, Patrick Nicholls, Shaun Davis, Roy Garcia, Alex Georgijev, Kristen Fick (uncredited), François Guillaume (uncredited), Anita Koh (uncredited), Kamay Lau (uncredited), Tracy Redington (uncredited), Gito Santana (uncredited), Frank Senger (uncredited), Joss Skottowe (uncredited) and Roger Wright (uncredited)
Director: Luc Besson
Producers: Iain Smith, John A. Amicarella and Patrice Ledoux
Screenplay: Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen
Composer: Eric Serra
Costume Design: Jean-Paul Gaultier
Cinematography: Thierry Arbogast
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Audio: 5.1 HD-DTS Master Audio and 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound
Subtitles: English SDH
Running Time: 126 minutes
Region: Region B/2
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Gaumont Pathé / 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘The Fifth Element’  [Limited Edition SteelBook] [Blu-ray] release comes courtesy of Gaumont Pathé and it is loaded with extra features. In fact, the sharp eyed among you will recognise these extras are from the 2-disc Special Edition DVD release that was released previously. But the film does start with the Gaumont Pathé logo.
"Leeloo Dallas Mooltipass" are three words that will invariably put a grin on my face. ‘The Fifth Element’ has been the ultimate sci-fi guilty pleasure for me. Luc Besson's crazy Technicolor future world is the perfect antidote to years of dark and gloomy sci-fi visions, those post-apocalyptic doom laden works of speculative art that insist that humanity is doomed to wallow in its own self-destructive excrescence. ‘The Fifth Element’ is a future with pep, with joy, with boundless and indeed idiotic optimism. I love it.
Sometimes, a film come along that you think is peerless, that can never be matched or surpassed. It's not this one and I'm talking about ‘Blade Runner.’ With ‘Blade Runner’ it managed in one film to define a view of a world with outstanding design, brilliant music, top-notch direction, brilliant performances and a gripping story. What ‘The Fifth Element’ has done is come within a hair's width of matching the freshness and originality of ‘Blade Runner.’
Every 5000 years, the ultimate evil returns in an attempt to destroy life. To combat this threat, there is an ultimate weapon, the perfect being, the “Fifth Element,” which in conjunction with the 4 known elements, Earth, Air, Fire and Water can defeat the evil. In 1914 Egypt, with the threat of war engulfing the world, the alien Mondoshawan came to retrieve the weapon, so it could be kept safe for future generations. In the 23rd Century, the evil returns and the weapon must return to Earth to be used to save the world. However the Mondoshawan ship returning the weapon is attacked by Managalore mercenaries and is destroyed. Retrieving what remains of the weapon, scientists use surviving cells to resurrect the weapon in the form of Leeloo, played by Milla Jovovich. She escapes from the lab and the military and dives into the cab of Korben Dallas, a retired soldier played by Bruce Willis. She asks his help in evading the authorities and in delivering her to the monk, Cornelius [Ian Holm] Cornelius' order has been tasked down the ages with preserving the knowledge of the ultimate evil and the fifth element. With the ultimate evil, a flaming ball of energy, thousands of miles across heading for Earth, Leeloo, Korben and Cornelius must recover the stones that represent the four elements so the weapon can be used. Trying to defeat them and further the cause of evil is the head of Zorg industries, Jean Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg played by Gary Oldman and his Mangalore mercenaries.
‘The Fifth Element’ is a combination of hyper-reality and grit summons ‘Blade Runner’ to mind, and we all remember how that did at the box-office when it was first released. The big difference between ‘The Fifth Element’ and ‘Blade Runner’ is that Blade Runner is at night with smoke and rain and darkness and sometimes it is hard for the audience to take it all in, as this is noon, you don’t see one car, you see four hundred, and you can see everything! Though the film is now perhaps best-known for its design and cinematography, one should not let these appearances overshadow the film’s presentation of the picture of Good and Evil in the human condition. This picture is personified through the human characters and their endeavours toward creation and destruction. Cornelius represents which is good, as his goal is to create a world of peace, whereas Zorg epitomises evil in his quest to destroy life: By creating a little destruction, he is actually encouraging life! While these two characters show the apparent extremes of Good and Evil, Leeloo wonders why she should even bother saving the human race, as she begins to believe that, collectively, Earthlings may be more Evil than Good, and could end up destroying each other. However, through Dallas’s love, she is convinced that one should be optimistic and have hope that the human race can overcome the evil in themselves and become better beings.
‘The Fifth Element’ is a science-fiction film with a huge sense of humour, like ‘Mars Attack’ before it. The French director Luc Besson, has already made a lot of this kind of film before, with a mix a lot of action, humour and love ‘TAXI,’ ‘NIKITA’ or ‘LÉON: THE PROFESSIONAL,’ in which the bad guy is also interpreted by Gary Oldman. ‘The Fifth Element’ is not an exception, and the scheme stays the same: beautiful girl in trouble, a common guy ready to fight in order to impress the girl and to save the world, a love story, and a great evil threatening the world, Named: “The Great Evil.”
At the beginning of the film, the aspect is shown by two key elements: the Aliens and the Priest. The two are collaborating together, and they are gathering around one thing, the Fifth Element. In fact, the entire film is about the duality between old and new, even in the structure of the film. Indeed, the first part occurs in 1914, in the past, and the second part in 2263, in the future. Moreover, there is a kind of a myth about the five elements. When the president discovers the story, it’s the priest Cornellius who teaches him the legend of the ultimate weapon, opening as old book with old draws. It’s presented as a myth, as the way eclipses were presented long ago for example.
Finally, I would like to say that the story itself is an element of this duality: saving the new world, with old technology. We can also add some references to religions, the perfection of Leeloo born from the hand of the fifth element and Eve born from a bone from Adam, and the Great Evil, or even the love story between the brave man and the innocent woman, which can be considered now as a kind of an old cliché. All these aspects show us what Luc Besson wanted for this film: a succession of sci-fi cliché that everyone can notice. But he uses them in one purpose: make us laugh. Indeed, it is the funny way he directed the technology, the voice in the cab and the barman in the airport for example, and the script related to technology “Leeloo Dallas’ multipass,” “she’s perfect,” Ruby’s shows… that transform this film into a funny one and more than a typical science fiction one. I think the main reason that this film was not so successful, especially in the United States, because of this new funny vision of the entire technology, it is difficult to identify yourself to one of the character in this universe we don’t believe in, compared to other realistic vision in sci-fi film ‘Minority Report’ . But it’s not the purpose of the film, showing us a funny coloured and fashioned world. It‘s was aspect that makes it a particular film, unique and entertaining.
Blu-ray Video Quality – The Gaumont Pathé logo is indicative. This release of ‘The Fifth Element’ looks as if it was re-mastered from the same print as the original Region 2 DVD. Certainly it has that same speck of dirt on the print over the establishing shot of the 1914 archaeological dig. But the source print is all that it has in common with the DVDs, what it does with the source is completely different. Having said that, I feel that I have been spoilt by the few Blu-rays that I have seen so far, mostly of recent films, and I was expecting something just as spectacular when it comes to clarity and definition from ‘The Fifth Element.’ The 1080p encode image with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio widescreen image is still light years beyond the DVD transfer; it does have that 3D eye popping experience that you would expect from high definition images. I was thrilled at spotting things that I missed on DVD, the beads of sweat on the priest's forehead, the crumpled linen of the Professor's jacket. In terms of colour, clarity and definition, this is a wholly different beast to the DVD. That said, it never reaches the pin-sharp definition of modern releases, there is an overall softness to the image, perhaps by design, perhaps to mask the limits of the special effects technology of the period. It's subtle and it's inoffensive. It also still has issues either end of the brightness scale, with the brighter whites popping a little too much, and detail crushed in the darker scenes. There's hardly any detail at all in the opening shot with the Mondoshawan ship arriving at Earth, while the white clothing that the children wear does overpower the scene at the start. The image quality of the high definition release may lack the pixel perfection of a reference quality Blu-ray disc, but it's good enough, especially now that they have the colour balance right. Please Note: Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Learn more about Blu-ray region specifications.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – There are no such concerns with the audio, which comes with the option of a full-throated 5.1 HD-DTS Master Audio track or the 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound. There are optional English subtitles if you require them. Note, to get the full-throated 5.1 HD-DTS Master Audio the disc does default to the lesser Dolby Digital track though. I'm not as much an audiophile, as I am a visual nit-picker, but for me the requirements of enveloping surround, clear dialogue, vibrant action sequences, and resonant music were all met. It's a rich and lush future world that Luc Besson creates, and that richness is wonderfully represented by the film's sound design. Eric Serra's music is a magnificent accompaniment to the story.
Blu-ray Special Supplements and Extras: Some things are new on this disc, the newly transferred high definition film most obviously, and the animated menus. But the rest of the extras are inherited from the 2-disc special edition DVD, so you won't be surprised at the prevalence of Standard content. It should be noted that the extras are all in standard definition and at times of debatable picture quality.
Audio Commentary: Commentary with Mark Stetson, Karen E. Goulekas, Bill Neil, and Ron Gress: They talk endlessly about the effects work they did on the film. That alone would be pretty dry, but they do have a great deal of fun watching the film and have some entertaining observations and anecdotes as well. Although it isn't the most exciting commentary I've ever listened to, there is enough information here to keep special effects enthusiasts happy, as well as enough anecdotes about filming and things that happened on set to keep everyone else listening. There are a couple of minor quiet moments, but they do well to keep things moving.
Special Feature Documentary: Discovering The Fifth Element  [48:00] The largest and most useful feature is the retrospective documentary. It's a nice look at the production process, from script to release, with input from the cast and crew. It is also an in-depth look at how the project got started and many of the concepts used. It uses plenty of behind-the-scenes footage interspersed with interviews of various members of the cast and crew. We also get to see some of the concept art, hear details of the prosthetics used and how/why Luc Besson got Bruce Willis on board. It's more than your average Hollywood style documentaries and well worth a watch.
Special Feature: Imagining The Fifth Element  [5:13] This is a quick look at the world and look of The Fifth Element and features interviews with various members of the special effects crew. It's an interesting little featurette for those interested in the process of coming up with the look of a film and the general set designs. It came out just as silicone gel for creatures started to make a splash and we also hear a little about the mix between animatronics and CGI.
Special Feature: The Art of Jean-Claude Mézières  [5:30] This is an interview with Jean-Claude Mézières, who drew the concept art and ultimately designed the infamous police cars and the taxi. He talks about his ideas behind the city landscapes, making a vision of a busy futuristic city whilst maintaining a little of the current architecture.
Special Feature: An Audience with Diva Plavalaguna  [5:13] This is a closer look at the design and thoughts behind making a singling alien diva. As is an on-going theme with these featurettes, we get to see concept art of Diva, and get some interview snippets with the creature designer and a couple of other crew members. The costume was made using foam latex and it was filmed using what producer Patrice Ledoux calls a 'real opera team' and computer trickery to hit the high notes.
Special Feature: Elements of Style  [5:12] is a closer look at the costume design by the highly annoying, yet obviously talented, Jean-Paul Gaultier. Milla Jovavich's clothing in the film has become instantly recognisable and there isn't a fancy-dress party I have been to where some lass dresses up as her character. For this, I thank him immensely.
Special Feature: MTV Cannes Premiere  [47:00] This is a total nonsense worth of absolute air-headed nonsense. The M in MTV must stand for morons, as it's a show that must be for the soft of thinking air heads, which is essentially a long fluff piece aimed more at those with a wondering attention span. Vapid presenters ask inane questions to intelligent people who are contractually obliged to answer with a degree of wit, rather than tell them where to stick their microphones. We get red carpet footage from afar, poorly narrated by John Amies, but we also get some good interviews with the main stars and other names such as Mike Leigh, Julie Delpy and Greta Scacchi. Worth a look as such, but this is of the lower quality output and of less interest than the rest of the extras on the disc. It is worth checking out 90's fashion at its worse on the red carpet though, and old relationships that are no more such as Bruce Willis and Demi Moore. There is about 10 minutes of this, plus 5 minutes of poor Milla Jovovich having to adopt the MTV frame of mind, a whole lot of clips from the film, and half an hour of a Neneh Cherry concert. The things they stick on this Blu-ray to justify calling it a Special Edition! Unfortunately for some of the thicker French accents, there are no English subtitles.
Theatrical Trailers: The extras end with a selection of Trailers and TV spots: Theatrical trailer [1:34]. Teaser trailer [1:26]. 5 TV spots: Adventure [0:32]; Race [0:32]; Summer [0:22]; Sidekick [0:21] and It Must be Found [1:35].
Finally, United Kingdom fans of ‘The Fifth Element’ who is Blu-ray capable, should not hesitate 100% purchasing this stunning Limited Edition SteelBook. You shouldn't even think about it and definitely make sure you have this Blu-ray disc in your possession by the end of the day. It has a few minor issues to be sure, it isn't the spectacular eruption of audio-visual perfection that some Blu-ray transfers can offer, but it is a spectacular improvement over the previous lack lustre Region 2 DVD releases. Compared to those lack lustre discs, it will be like watching the film for the first time all over again. The odd thing is that now, ten years on, I find Chris Tucker in this particular film a very annoying person. So all in all I am so proud to have this added to my ever increasing Blu-ray Collection and this UK Limited Edition SteelBook is so beautiful, especially the raised embossed image. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom