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May 21, 1997 - Image 10

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1997-05-21

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, May 21, 1997
Star power, aliens, effects mix in
action-packed 'Fifth Element'


By Kiran Nandalur
Daily Arts Writer
What is the formula for a block-
buster? Destroying aliens brought in
the big bucks for "Independence
Day." Good overcoming evil made
"Star Wars" the biggest draw ever.
Star power drove a mediocre movie
like "Eraser" over the $100 million
mark. It would be
sensible then to
think that a film R
combining these
three components
would have peo-
ple flocking to
the theaters. The At Bri
new futuristic
action-adventure "The Fifth Element"
reaches for such a goal and entertains
throughout, but leaves viewers unful-
filled in the end.
The plot centers around the exis-
tence of an "anti-life, anti-energy"
force that arrives into the universe
every 5,000 years to eliminate the
fifth element, life energy. The first
signs of its existence are discovered
in a temple in 20th-century Egypt,
and hieroglyphics reveal that when
the darkness comes, the four ele-
ments - earth, wind, fire and air,
represented by special stones -
have to be patterned around the mys-
terious last element to curtail the
When the 23rd century arrives, the
evil force precipitates in the form of a
ball of fire in outer space and slowly
spreads its destructive effects.
Unfortunately, the stones are hidden
somewhere in the universe while the
final life element has been broken.


Luckily, geneticists in New York are
able to engineer a piece of the organ-
ic compound into a perfect being
named Leeloo (Milla Jovovich).
Frightened, the innocent woman
escapes the lab and encounters the
decorated veteran and cab driver,
Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis), who
instantly falls in love with her. Along
with a priest famil-
iar -with the enig-
E V I E W matic events, they
The Fifth attempt to acquire
Element the stones, bring
* *n* them back to the
temple and save
arwood and Showcase the world.
In the major side
plot, Zorg (Gary Oldman), working
for the evil incarnate, seeks to capture
the girl and prevent the reunion, with
the help of his sidekick Right Arm
(Tricky). Concurrently, his duplicate
dealings with
pig-like aliens,
t h e Te flying
Mangalores, Ect
leads to the
introduction of it's like '1
a third party,
as they try to Jetons' 1
procure the
stones for to life.
leverage. This
race for the
valuable elements results in extrava-
gant gun fights, frantic car chases and
monstrous explosions.
Strong aspects of "The Fifth
Element" are its awe-inspiring special
effects and sly humor. The flying cars,
spaceships and buildings are spectac-

ular; it's like "The Jetsons" has come
to life. The comedy keeps the mood
light and the viewer entertained.
The most pleasant surprise is the
breakout performance of Milla
Jovovich. The beautifu
model/actress displays an incredibl
range as a neophyte to the 23rd cen-
tury. She is aggressive in her physical
hand-to-hand-combat scenes and
convincingly emotional in her inter-
actions with Dallas. As for Bruce
Willis, he spices up an otherwise for-
mulaic character with his timely
delivery of sardonic wit and cool in
turbulent times.
The same praise cannot be extend-
ed to Zorg. Not only does he not see
to be genuinely evil, his motivatioW
for money is ambiguous and absurd.
If the anti-life wasn't stopped, he
would have been killed, or at the very
least, money would become worthless
in a world with
one person.
Other nega-
c E tives include the
fact that the anti-
! life is describ
he superficial) ,
which leaves a
tas CoMe simple good ver-
sus evil battle.
Also, a long
scene with an
annoying, whiny
talk-show host, Ruby Rhod, detracts
from the exciting pace.
Overall, "The Fifth Element," even
with the shallow themes, has the for-
mula for success with its remarkab#
scenes, fast action and strong perfor-

Tricky (above center) takes a brief break from his musical career to star as Right
Arm, a bad-guy sidekick to Gary Oldman in "The Fifth Element." Twenty-third cen-
tury New York City (bottom) shows there is no more room for New Jersey and Long
Island malls to expand.
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