My favourite films as a child were altogether a bit odd. I was really into Speed 2: Cruise Control for some unfathomable reason. I mean, hijacking a cruise liner in order to steal jewellery seems like a solid plan, sure. And Willem Dafoe typecast once again as an evil-doer, six-year-old me could get on board. This film lost its rewatchability as years past but if you secretly enjoy terrible 90s films, go watch the trailer and you won’t be disappointed.
I’d like to think my tastes have developed a little since. One film that has the same hold over me that it did in the late 90s is Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element. This film is weirdly brilliant. More recently I wrote essays on Besson’s work for my French film course because I couldn’t get enough of Korben Dallas and Leeloo. None of Besson’s other films can hold a candle to The Fifth Element, though.
Why should you watch it?
It’s a bold, beautiful, bonkers story of the fight against evil lead from the front by Bruce Willis as Korben Dallas, a former army man now working as the most dangerous taxi driver in NYC (at least in the year 2263).
The other half to this equation is Leeloo, played by Milla Jovovich.
She’s an alien artifact brought to life and encased in an iconic Jean-Paul Gauthier-designed outfit.
And she kicks ass.
Well, for one part of the film, anyway. For much of the rest she’s eating chicken and learning what humans are like, and if I think too much about how they side-line her in order to make this Korben’s film then I get angry. I’m obstinately clinging to my childhood love for this film in the face of a growing panic that this film is sexist down to its core.
But back to why I love it.
Gary Oldman looks like this and is meant to be terrifying:
The costumes are absurd and hilarious (is that some kind of baking tray?):
The good aliens look like robot porcupines:
General annoyance Ruby Rhod was one of the first times I saw a man represented as anything other than macho. Yeah, it’s not a sensitive portrayal by any stretch of the imagination, and he’s there to be ridiculed, but writing someone who at least attempts to blur the gender boundary resonated with a young me.
There are touching moments too, such as Leeloo discovering the concept of war and debating whether humanity is worth saving. It’s quite a well-worn trope but impactful nonetheless.
But onto my all-time favourite part, and I think a lot of other people would agree with me.
Think of The Fifth Element, and what comes to mind?
The dancing Diva. Whenever I think of a good use of music in film, I always come to this techno/opera hybrid. The look of Diva Plavalaguna is iconic and would make for some great cosplay, and it’s forever my dream to sing like the Diva. Please send us videos if you can.
I knows it’s silly and dubious in its representation, but this film will hold a special place in my heart. It’s hard to believe that it’ll celebrate its 20th birthday in May.
This Fifth Element review is brought to you by such quotable nonsense as ‘Big ba-da boom’, ‘multipass’ and ‘supergreen’.