This week in Sci-Fi Time Capsule, The Fifth Element. I’ve seen this particular movie more than most (probably even more than its fair share). It came out while I was in college, and the campus TV station got permission to air it shortly thereafter. It was practically on a loop for months.
(WARNING: Spoilers begin below)
An ancient evil is returning, and only a warrior of life can save the universe: the supreme being, the Fifth Element. She is part of a weapon that will destroy the evil, along with 4 stones representing the classical elements. But the Fifth Element runs off and the stones are being delivered by mysterious means, all while the ancient evil lumbers through space, heading for Earth.
Korben Dallas is an ex-special forces cabbie (how many action heroes are ex-special forces?) who has Leeloo (the aforementioned Fifth Element) fall into his cab. In the process of protecting her, he takes up her cause, and leads a pair of priests and a talk-show host on a mission to save humanity.
This isn’t an original plot, to say the least, but its execution is the fun of this movie. The action, the characters, the colorful world, fast-cut scene switches all make for an enjoyable experience.
Why Is This a Classic?
I’m not sure anyone would call this a classic in the traditional sense. It stands alone, without any successors or tropes originated. What it does similarly to Star Wars though, is that it is really a fantasy plot in a sci-fi movie. There’s a chosen one, an ancient evil, and a collection of magic stones to gather. But it’s all wrapped up in futuristic weapons, faster-than-light spaceships, and alien races.
This is a fun movie for quotes. It’s Hollywood writing that’s meant to generate quotable lines. Here are a few of the many worthwhile candidates.
How it Holds Up
It’s a movie I’ve seen probably 20+ times, and it’s just as good as when it came out in 1997. There’s a lot going on, a lot of quick-cut scenes that tell the story in parallel from several sides. It can take a few viewings to catch everything, not necessarily because it’s complicated but because it’s fast-paced and doesn’t dwell on much of anything. Still a great popcorn sci-fi flick.
It’s one of my favorite movies, I think because it doesn’t take itself too seriously and everybody looks like they’re having fun making it.