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poster

THE FIFTH ELEMENT

Starring Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Milla Jovovich, Ian Holm
Directed by Luc Besson
Screenplay by Robert Mark Kamen and Luc Besson

IN SHORT: Absolutely delightful... if you "get" it.

Cranky goes through the same routine almost every summer. He finds it necessary to point out that some summer flicks are perfect solely in their ability to entertain. Jaws can drop. Eyes can bug out. Mouths can go "ooh" as a story goes rushing by faster than an out of control freight train down a mountain. Summer films, the really good ones, should make you feel like a kid again. Summer films, the great ones, should do the former and make you want to see 'em again. Film students hate summer films. Cranky loves 'em, and Cranky loved The Fifth Element.

The film student types who previewed Luc Besson's The Fifth Element last week all sounded alike; saying how "The Fifth Element was "visually stunning but otherwise one of the worst films [they've] ever seen." That's just about a direct quote. The Fifth Element is 180 degree turn from director Luc Besson's last film, The Professional, the quite serious story of a professional hit man and the little girl he protects. Cranky thinks these folk forget that Besson also made La Femme Nikita, and has his action flick chops down.

Element is a very funny, visually stunning flick, and moves at a pace so damned fast that you cannot do anything else but hold on for dear life as what you see onscreen grows more outrageous by the minute. It is mile a minute blast from the future. It is SF flicks like Blade Runner and 2001 set on their ears. It is a comic book on celluloid and it is delightful with a capital "D". That's not a slap. Cranky sat transfixed as each visual played out thinking, "this is Moebius in motion." For those of you that haven't collected comics or graphic novels for years, as Cranky has, Moebius is a French graphic novelist named Jean Giraurd whose abilities as artist and storyteller are among the top two percent, IMO, worldwide. Besson asked Moebius to help design The Fifth Element and it is a perfect fit.

Set three hundred years in the future,The Fifth Element confirms the adage that the more things change the more they stay the same. New York City in the 23rd Century is a spaceport city in a worldwide federation, but you can still hail a yellow taxi cab. If you're lucky, it will be driven by ex-Special Forces officer Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis). Dallas is six months out of the Service, divorced, and has a mother to whom "nag" is the perfect middle name. One day, Leeloo (Milla Jovovich), a beautiful red haired woman attired in sticky Ace bandages falls through the roof of his cab. She babbles in a language he cannot understand but, feeling for the underdog (she's being chased by heavily armored policemen), he takes her on the lam. The trail leads to Cornelius (Ian Holm), a priest of an order 5000 years old whose purpose is to keep an Egyptian temple site prepared for the return of the Anti-Life, and the inevitable battle that will come. It is this battle, between the Anti-Life and the elements that make up our universe (earth, air, fire, water) and a fifth element -- the perfect weapon -- that is the framework for this lollapalloza of a story.

Evil must have its champion, of course, and in the future its name is Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman). He runs some kind of supersized corporation and hires alien changelings called Mangalores to do his dirty work; to capture and destroy the "fifth" element.

The story swings from 1914 Egypt (where you'll find surprise star Luke Perry) to super secret government laboratories to vacation planets light years away. There, radio DJ Ruby Rhod (Chris Tucker) narrates the battle to the Universe. Tucker's performance is so over the top it has to be seen to be believed. It alone is worth the price of a second admission ticket. The Fifth Element is not going to be what you may have been led to expect. It is not Die Hard in outer space -- it is a tremendous amount of fun.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Fifth Element, he would have paid . . .

$7.00

To those of you looking for a good time,The Fifth Element hits the bullseye. The men in the audience were giggling like 14 year old boys. When they didn't think anyone was watching, the women were giggling, too

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