What wasn't so good about the movie included its simplistic, and quite uninteresting, storyline, its overemphasis on humor, its horrible soundtrack, which seemed to take every un-science-fiction ditty and slap it into the mix, the lame-o attempt at a "love story" between Willis' character and the "Fifth Element" herself, the aforementioned second half of the picture, which for some reason, takes place on a super-colorful cruise ship that, again, has no place in such a movie, and the inclusion of idiotic characters like Ruby Rhod, who provides Jar-Jar Binks a decent run for his "I could ruin an entire movie by myself" money. The film's action sequences, of which there were very few, were also nothing stand-out, and neither were its opening 10-15 minutes, which had almost no zip or energy (and also included a cameo by Luke Perry!). Overall, I can't even imagine a hardcore sci-fi geek really getting into this flick, despite its cool special effects (ultimately wasted, since the story blows), or anyone else who wants to be thoroughly entertained, as not much about the movie really grabs you. I'm pretty sure there was an engaging story in there somewhere, but God knows director Luc Besson was too busy concentrating on a 5-minute alien-blue-bitch opera sequence in order to wrangle it in (surprise, surprise...Besson was once engaged to this actress in real-life, and has a kid with her). A disappointment.
The Visual Element (18
minutes): This featurette focuses on
the two French comic book artists, Jean Claude Mezieres and Moebius, who
inspired, and ultimately worked with, writer/director Luc Besson, on the
film’s overall production design. Being a fan of comic books, I was quite
interested in this piece, especially since it really provided a nice
background on each fellow and featured plenty of their original artwork and
sketches for the film. This section also included a variety of the film
“tests” generated for the actual movie featuring their designs.
The Digital Element (10
minutes): This featurette focuses on
the actual computer imagery utilized in the film, particularly during its
first hour, in the futuristic city of New York. We already know how most of
this “green screen” stuff works nowadays, but it was still quite
interesting to see how thoroughly the digital filmmakers had also re-created
an entire city of New York in models on a soundstage. They ultimately combined
computer imagery with the models and the actors to come up with the final
shots in the movie. Pretty fun stuff to watch, especially if you were
impressed by those shots…which I was.
The Star Element (~ 20 minutes): This section focuses on 3 of the film’s lead actors in small featurettes of their own, including Bruce Willis (4 minutes), Milla Jovovich (12 minutes) and Chris Tucker (4 minutes). The most interesting of the lot was definitely the Jovovich piece, and not just because they featured her naked again but because, despite the film being her 5th appearance in a motion picture, was also her first ‘big break”, at the tender age of 19. Each featurette features a sitdown with the actor in question discussing their role and the film, overall. Jovovich’s piece also featured about 10 minutes of her “screen tests” for the movie, in which she looks an awful lot like Darryl Hannah’s character from BLADE RUNNER (they decided to axe the black eye make-up for the final product). Tucker’s featurette is also fun to watch because he comes across as one really “green” dude who didn’t really know what was going on when he did the movie, but had fun and did his best anyway. Willis is Willis.
The Alien Element (~ 20
minutes): If you liked any of the alien
creatures in the movie, this is a section you will definitely want to check
out, especially if you’re interested in seeing one “brand” of alien that
was produced for the film, and shot, but ultimately never made the final cut
(the “Strikers”). This section is broken down into 4 sub-pieces including
a 10-minute focus on the Modoshawans, which were those bigass creatures
from the beginning of the movie, which certainly looked cool, but must’ve
been one of the worst designed beings ever created, moving about 1 inch per
second and having no real movement or agility. It was interesting to see how
they got actors into those things though.
The second piece focused on
the Mangalores, which were those beast creatures, who were actually
pretty cool-looking in the film, but dumb as posts. Picasso is the
third piece of the puzzle here, and he’s Gary Oldman’s goofy-looking
“pet” in the movie. Finally, the last section focused on the Strikers,
who were these long-limbed garbage-striking aliens who were supposed to be
featured in the film’s airport sequence, but were ultimately cut out of the
movie (not sure why). This section was pretty interesting overall, especially
since it re-iterated how much hard work it takes just to create a basic
movement or facial expression on one of these things. Each of these sections
also included “screen tests” and outtakes from the film of the respective
The Fashion Element (7
minutes): Just as its title would
suggest, this featurette focuses on all of the funky costumes from the movie,
which when placed together in such a tight piece, really give you a sense of
how “out there” many of them were. Jean-Paul Gauthier, the man behind the
magic (or the horror, depending on whether you think his fashions were
innovative and avante-garde or pretentious and crappy), discusses his ideas,
sketches and collaborative methods on the project. Seems like a pretty gay
guy. ...happy, that is.
...happy, that is.
The Diva (16 minutes):
One might argue that anything more than 1 minute spent on this “mysterious
woman” is a minute too long, while others might argue that 16 minutes spent
on this “enigmatic character” are 16 minutes too long, and I’ll go on
record as agreeing with both of those statements. I’m not sure
why anybody thought either this character or this featurette was so
“integral” to this sci-fi flick, but needless to say, I wasn’t a fan of
this lady in the movie, and was bored stupid during this interview with the
woman who portrayed her in the film, some one-word actress named Maiwenn, who
was apparently engaged to writer/director Luc Besson at the time. Natch! My
favorite part of the interview is when she tells us how “disappointed” she
was at how little of her character was ultimately featured in the film. To
make up for it, they feature the entire 5-minute uncut sequence here. Bugh.
Skip this shit.
Fact Track: I always like these things, and much like for the Deluxe Edition of Besson's THE PROFESSIONAL, this DVD's got a very thorough and consistent text-based trivia track that runs at the bottom of your screen, as you watch the movie. Everything from this being Milla Jovovich's 5th film (get it, she's also the 5th element?), to the mugger in one of the film's early scenes being played by French actor/director Mathieu Kassovitz (he played AMELIE's boyfriend and recently directed GOTHIKA), to the film costing $90 million, the most expensive film produced outside of Hollywood at that time.