The Fifth Element (1997)
February 11, 2016 5:56 PM - Subscribe

In the colorful future, a cab driver unwittingly becomes the central figure in the search for a legendary cosmic weapon to keep Evil and Mr Zorg at bay.

Roger Ebert: "The Fifth Element'' ... is one of the great goofy movies--a film so preposterous I wasn't surprised to discover it was written by a teenage boy. That boy grew up to become Luc Besson, director of good smaller movies and bizarre big ones, and here he's spent $90 million to create sights so remarkable they really ought to be seen.

That's not to say this is a good movie, exactly. It's more of a jumble that includes greatness. Like "Metropolis" (1926) or "Blade Runner," it offers such extraordinary visions that you put your criticisms on hold and are simply grateful to see them. If Besson had been able to link those sights with a more disciplined story and more ruthless editing, he might have really had something.

Rolling Stone: The plot is too incoherent to give away. It's the eye-popping images that count. Le Dernier Combat, Besson's 1984 debut film, had no dialogue. The Fifth Element doesn't need what it has, a point Besson tweaks by having Jovovich's character talk rapidly in a language that makes her sound as indecipherable as Geoffrey Rush in Shine.

NYTimes: ''The Fifth Element'' does look genuinely novel at times, thanks to the pulp exuberance of its electric colors and bold, jokey production design. It delivers that big badda-boom and nothing more.

catholic-resources.org: Both the fifth element and Mr. Shadow seem to draw great power from their voices. This idea emanates from the Bible as well. In the book of Ezekiel, the voice of God is described as being like “the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory.” (Ezek 43:2). In addition, the idea of the voice of God causing damage is revisited in the book of Revelation, which states that the fifth angel would be seen “ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea…” (Rev 7:2) When the fifth element stops the darkness from enveloping the earth, her power is manifested through a scream that manifests physically as a white beam of light. Likewise, when Mr. Shadow speaks to the villainous Zorg on the phone, the power of his voice, even through radio waves, is enough to cause Zorgs head to bleed. The thought of the voice of God containing a great deal of power is evidenced in other contemporary films, most notably Dogma, where the voice of God is shown to not only cause destruction, but right that which is wrong as well.

Trailer

Oliver Harper's Retrospective and Review
posted by MoonOrb (113 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
I am somewhat shocked this movie has never been posted here before. But then, I am a meat Popsicle.
posted by phearlez at 6:00 PM on February 11, 2016 [6 favorites]


I have seen this movie at least fifty times. My family got very into it for awhile when it was running constantly on some movie channel. When my daughter learned the word "multipass" we all got very excited.

It's weird to me to think that there are people who have never seen this film but I guess there probably are a lot.
posted by town of cats at 6:11 PM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


One of my favorite stories is about how Luc Besson got Chris Tucker to agree to his costume. He knew if he started with that one out of the gate, Tucker would object so he started with something REALLY outrageous. Tucker lost it and so Besson toned it down a few times until he got to the costume you see in the movie.
posted by miss-lapin at 6:20 PM on February 11, 2016 [11 favorites]


Ah this movie. So many good scenes. The opera scene. Bruce Willis in his apartment. All the models, lol. Man, the 90s were an awesome time for film.
posted by longdaysjourney at 6:30 PM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


town of cats, I feel the exact same way. At one point, I probably had this movie about 90% memorized I had seen it so many times. Its a combination of perfect casting, hilarious script and a beautiful and colorful future. Plus, a million great one liners.

My favorite experience was watching this movie with a bunch of people who had seen it and one who hadn't, and about the time the donut shaped saviors of the universe (Mondosheewans) show up, she blurts out "Oh, I thought this was a *real* movie"
posted by hobgadling at 6:32 PM on February 11, 2016 [5 favorites]


She knows it's a multipass.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:54 PM on February 11, 2016 [5 favorites]


When I first saw this in the nineties I thought it a terrible film with a few terrific images and moments; little did I know how much longevity and influence those images and moments would have.

For me, though, it will always be the film in which Bruce Willis falls in romantic love with a baby. That's not a criticism. But it is... weird.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 7:14 PM on February 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


On a scale of unhinged Gary Oldman performances, where Tinker, Tailor is a 1 and Léon is a 10, I would give Zorg about a 7.


That being said, I think my favorite performance in the film is Corridor Hat Guy.

"T-take it! I...don't need it!"
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:22 PM on February 11, 2016 [6 favorites]


This movie was teetering at the edge of everyone throwing their hats into the CGI Everything ring. Had it come out just a few years later the effects would have aged terribly, like the Star Wars prequels.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:27 PM on February 11, 2016 [16 favorites]


....anyway, we're in love.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:59 PM on February 11, 2016 [10 favorites]


I am still continuing to laugh about this.

It cracks me up that Luc Besson is making a Valerian movie because he already made one. But the Instagram shots give me so much hope.

I both love and hate this movie. I wish it was more campy. Gary Oldman knows what movie he's in. Chris Tucker mostly does. I'm not sure about anyone else.

Anyway, this movie functions on a bell curve where I hate it, then like it, then like it a lot, like it a bit less, then hate it. I think this just repeats the more I see it.

It's still a delightful adaptation of French sci-fi comics, even though it's not really. Although it is.
posted by darksong at 8:08 PM on February 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


There are some things money can't buy. For everything else, there's multipass.

I think I saw this movie 4-5 times before I admitted I liked it.
posted by skewed at 8:13 PM on February 11, 2016 [5 favorites]


The Fifth Element is one of a handful of things I love that made me realize that I'll take exuberant maximalism with a lot of flaws over impeccably-crafted miniaturism any day.
posted by invitapriore at 8:14 PM on February 11, 2016 [11 favorites]


I don't think a week goes by that I can't find this movie on one cable channel or another. I've no idea how many times I've watched it. Oddly, I'm not certain I've ever seen the full, un-edited-for-content-and-time version of the thing.

It really is a divisive movie. If someone asks if I like the movie, I immediately assume I am being tested.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:17 PM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


I saw this again recently and liked it so much more than when I saw it in the theater. It has stood up very well with time, and it is one of those movies where entire new films could be made out of the backgrounds of many scenes.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:26 PM on February 11, 2016


Love it. Always thought a Korbin Dallas series might be fun.
posted by davidmsc at 9:46 PM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Fucked up but interesting.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:48 PM on February 11, 2016


For me, though, it will always be the film in which Bruce Willis falls in romantic love with a baby

It's okay. He's playing his "Look Who's Talking" character in a blonde wig.
posted by maxsparber at 9:56 PM on February 11, 2016


The Fifth Element is one of a handful of things I love that made me realize that I'll take exuberant maximalism with a lot of flaws over impeccably-crafted miniaturism any day.

Oh yeah, I love that films like this exist even if all the choices they make don't work. It's messy, but it's a hell of a lot of fun, and just wonderfully weird. At some points it goes full on farce (Bruce Willis forcing everyone to hide in his apartment, or the airport) and it's just great.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 11:59 PM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


This film is very much a Heavy Metal movie, much nitro than the actual movie if the same name. Minus of course the massive amounts of nudity and gore Heavy Metal had. Actually, does that still make it a Heavy Metal movie?
posted by happyroach at 12:26 AM on February 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


I am still waiting for the sequel.
And I am sure I am not alone.

I so love this movie.
posted by Mezentian at 12:27 AM on February 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'd like to see a fan video of "The Real Korbin Dallas" where Bruce Willis raps about the other playas just imitating.
posted by toomanycurls at 12:37 AM on February 12, 2016


Things I'd like to see that are related to this movie: a collection of the approximately 900 costumes that Jean Paul Gaultier.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:35 AM on February 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's hard to say if it's good exactly, but it's so peculiar and fascinating that you do enjoy yourself. It's like you have a really good time, even as you keep thinking it's not working, and then you come away and you're like, "Am I fan of this movie? I think I am?"

It is very much like a crazy old Heavy Metal comic. More so than you'd think a movie could be. The visuals are all there, and the dialogue even sounds like a funky translation.

I know some people loathe Chris Tucker in this, they think he reached Jar Jar levels of annoyingness. And I can see that. But to me he actually works as comic relief, as this drag queen Daffy Duck commenting on everything. He's just endlessly baffled and panicky, and even when he's shrill he's still wisecracking and it kind of works. Who wouldn't be screaming, with all that going on?

They made a video game of this. I rented it at Hollywood Video, forever ago. It was OK, but nothing worth tracking down unless you're a gonzo fan of this movie and blocky PS1 games.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:48 AM on February 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


It's still a delightful adaptation of French sci-fi comics, even though it's not really. Although it is.

It is very much like a crazy old Heavy Metal comic. More so than you'd think a movie could be. The visuals are all there, and the dialogue even sounds like a funky translation.

That's the root of its appeal to me; it's much more in tune with the Heavy Metal aesthetic than the Heavy Metal movie itself was. (Speaking of which, what I wouldn't give for a RanXerox movie starring Ron Perlman.) It was also much more watchable than Enki Bilal's Immortal, which not only suffered from the instant dating of its CGI that Mr. Encyclopedia notes above, but was also deadly serious.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:01 AM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


I know some people loathe Chris Tucker in this, they think he reached Jar Jar levels of annoyingness.

It is funny, but Ruby is Jar Jar.

That's the root of its appeal to me; it's much more in tune with the Heavy Metal aesthetic than the Heavy Metal movie itself was

I've not read the Heavy Metal comic, or seen the movie, and I don't hate the TV show, but I reckon - in my completely uninformed opinion - The Fifth Elemant is better than the TV show that has the Heavy Metal name.

But I'm a simply a country cop....
posted by Mezentian at 5:56 AM on February 12, 2016


Man, this movie. THIS MOVIE!

It's perfectly zany and nutty, with a futuristic visual look that sucks you in and grounds you feel have. I recall seeing some reviewer saying it was "the Star Wars for a new generation". More like its "The Star Wars for the high school creative dorks who skipped school to drop acid behind Crazy's Liquor Stop and Bowling Alley."

Don't do a sequel. It could work, but the chance that it wouldn't is just too great, even if it's only 1%. Let us take our multipasses and just keep pushing REPLAY until we shuffle loose this boring mortal coil.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:27 AM on February 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Speaking of which, what I wouldn't give for a RanXerox movie starring Ron Perlman.

What about a 'roided-out Stephen King?
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:38 AM on February 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's still a delightful adaptation of French sci-fi comics, even though it's not really. Although it is.

Yes, the Fifth Element is basically a Valerian story set in a Valerian-like universe without Valerian. In 1995, Besson could only dream to make a Valerian movie so he did that crazy movie instead. And indeed, the Valerian universe predates Star Wars by several years, and, according to some, had an uncredited influence on it. I fear that when the Valerian movie comes out in 2017, people will be screaming that it's a complete rip-off :(
posted by elgilito at 6:39 AM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


That being said, I think my favorite performance in the film is Corridor Hat Guy.

Played by Mathieu Kassovitz, a.k.a. Nino Quincampoix in Amélie.
posted by djb at 6:41 AM on February 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


It is without irony that I say this is the best movie woeveryine made by a 13 year old boy.

(It's also SO FRENCH COMICS and, as someone on tumblr mentioned, it's very casually a dystopia? Like there are strikes and totalitarian police and apparently lots of public violence but everyone just accepts it and moves on and culture is still super shiny and colorful and that's like a unexpectedly nuanced vision of the future for a movie about magic stones? Like your u feel like your dipping into a fully realized world even if that world is bonkers)
posted by The Whelk at 6:53 AM on February 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


I've walked down that city street! I happened to get a tour of the FX house when they were working on that movie, so I got to walk around the model of buildings used for the street and see the bigger model of Corben's cab. Very cool.

It's very Heavy Metal. In particular, it looks like it was heavily influenced (for very very large values of "influenced") by the Heavy Metal movie segment with the cab driver.

My wife and I still randomly start riffing on the word "MOOOOOOLTIPASS". And Corridor Hat Guy is the fucking best.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:04 AM on February 12, 2016


This movie was teetering at the edge of everyone throwing their hats into the CGI Everything ring. Had it come out just a few years later the effects would have aged terribly, like the Star Wars prequels.

Oh man, the miniature work in this movie was fantastic.

I've walked down that city street! I happened to get a tour of the FX house when they were working on that movie, so I got to walk around the model of buildings used for the street and see the bigger model of Corben's cab. Very cool.

I am so jelly. I adore watching special features stuff with the props and miniatures.
posted by Fleebnork at 7:06 AM on February 12, 2016


I fear that when the Valerian movie comes out in 2017, people will be screaming that it's a complete rip-off :(

I am not worried, myself.
posted by Mezentian at 7:11 AM on February 12, 2016


I thought Ruby Rhod was played by a woman pretending to be a ur-sexual Prince in space. I had no idea who Chris Tucker was when I saw this movie and I thought he was actually a woman. I figured the little mustache was just as real as the rest of the hair and was just a weird gender-bender thing. It wasn't until Rush Hour came out a year later that I realized that Chris Tucker was a dude.
posted by peeedro at 7:38 AM on February 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


It's very Heavy Metal. In particular, it looks like it was heavily influenced (for very very large values of "influenced") by the Heavy Metal movie segment with the cab driver.
The cab driver scene has a complicated story. Mezières drew some pre-production sketches for the movie in 1992, then the movie was put in limbo for a while and Mezières recycled the scene for his own Valérian story. After the success of Léon, production resumed on the 5th Element in 1995 and Besson borrowed the scene from the comic. But the origin can actually be traced back to the Jean Giraud/Dan O'Bannon short comic story from 1975 The Long Tomorrow (NSFW, really), which was published in the French Heavy Metal magazine and is a credited influence on Blade Runner and Neuromancer. The Harry Canyon segment in the Heavy Metal movie is not adapted from the Long Tomorrow but still draws heavily from it.
posted by elgilito at 7:50 AM on February 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


. I had no idea who Chris Tucker was when I saw this movie

It was his break-out role, so you were not alone.
posted by Mezentian at 8:04 AM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


I had no idea who Chris Tucker was when I saw this movie

It was his break-out role, so you were not alone.


If you didn't see Friday, maybe. I'd put Rush Hour as his real breakout role, but YMMV.
posted by Etrigan at 8:08 AM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


He was better in Jackie Brown, in so much of all of his movie roles would be improved if he was stuck in the boot of a car and then shot.
posted by biffa at 8:27 AM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


MOOL
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:45 AM on February 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


TEE
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:45 AM on February 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


PAWCE
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:45 AM on February 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


She knows it's a multipass.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:48 AM on February 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure I saw this movie (and became obsessed with it) during its initial run in the theaters. Everything about it was (and is, goddammit) perfect. I still listen to the soundtrack on the regular, and the visuals and sound design make it a nice test for a new AV technology (I really do need to buy the blu-ray).

I didn't actually watch a Die Hard movie until well into the 2000s, so it was amusing to find out that Bruce Willis was basically just playing John McClane during the action scenes in the 5th element.

If the movie has any flaws, it's that it, and Friday, managed to convince me that the Chris Tucker was not a blight upon cinema, so I made the mistake of later choosing to watch other movies that he was in. I chose poorly.

Anyways, Zorg is Gary Oldman perfected. And I also love Bladerunner so the design of Zorg Tower, and the casting of Brion James (aka Leon) as General Munro were nice touches.

Finally, I hate to admit it, but after all these years I *still* don't fully understand the meat popsicle joke. I mean, I get it, but it feels like it's got to be a reference to something, but I have no idea what.

Chee-ken! Good!
posted by sparklemotion at 11:07 AM on February 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


My favourite bit was how they subverted the "sleeping beauty" kiss-her-while-shes-unconscious bit, with an instant gun to the head, some quick apologies, and Leeloo saying "never without my permission", which seems to me a pretty sturdy feminist moral, considering the script was written by a teenage boy.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 11:14 AM on February 12, 2016 [13 favorites]


Milla Jovovich deserves credit for completely selling the alien language she speaks all through the film. I don't think any other actor has been that convincing speaking Elvish, Dothraki, Klingon or whatever.
posted by cazoo at 11:54 AM on February 12, 2016 [15 favorites]


There are two competing theories regarding "meat Popsicle." The first is that it's Brice Willis' way of explaining that he's spent a lot of time in stasis, and so his physical age won't match his records.

The second is that he's been told to freeze, and so he's being a smart ass, because now that he is frozen, he is no longer human, but a Popsicle made of meat.
posted by maxsparber at 12:24 PM on February 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


So the hammer isn't his penis?
posted by sparklemotion at 12:30 PM on February 12, 2016


I never read it as being anything but the second one. Dunno how much of that is just Bruce WIllis' natural smartassness.
posted by Etrigan at 12:53 PM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Fondly remember excitedly talking with my friends (based on absolutely no actual research or understanding of the piece) about how the famous aria scene was done using computers to edit the voice because like "it's so fast a human can't even sing it maaaan." (I guess it was actually the pitch that changed too fast in the "diva dance" part? Though you can find a clip on YouTube of Victoria Hovhannisyan getting pretty dang close to doing it live, and she nails the high note.)
posted by Wretch729 at 1:24 PM on February 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Milla Jovovich deserves credit for completely selling the alien language she speaks all through the film. I don't think any other actor has been that convincing speaking Elvish, Dothraki, Klingon or whatever.

Apparently that's because Besson used to leave her voicemail in that language. He made it a real language for her.
posted by miss-lapin at 1:55 PM on February 12, 2016


Didn't Besson break up with Maïwenn (the singer/actress who played the diva Plavalaguna) for Jovovich during filming? Having a private language might have helped with that.
posted by Wretch729 at 2:19 PM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


The second is that he's been told to freeze, and so he's being a smart ass, because now that he is frozen, he is no longer human, but a Popsicle made of meat.

I feel dumb, because I somehow missed that it probably referred to him being told to freeze. I took it as kind of a strained, too-cool way of saying he was dead inside, which he kind of seems to be when the movie begins.

At the time I totally misread the bit where Ruby asks Korben if he was nervous in the service, in a way that says something kind of sad about the US of 1995. At that time you couldn't be in the US military if you were LGBT, your career could be ruined if it was found out. I thought Ruby was basically asking, "So, when you were in the military, were you worried about them finding out you were gay?"

So there's two lines I spectacularly misinterpreted, and there are probably more. I'm a reasonably intelligent person, except when I'm not. (In my defense, this movie is crammed to bursting with WTF.)

I've always found something strangely endearing about the moment Zorg tells one of the shape-shifter aliens to never be ashamed of who he is. It's this weird, random, nice thing to say.... coming from this psycho villain with Hitler hair wrapped up in an acrylic gizmo.

Somebody pointed out that Korben and Zorg never meet. I'm not even sure if they're really even aware of each other.

KPCC, one of the LA NPR stations, used to fill up dead air during pledge breaks and stuff with the diva's performance from this movie. I've heard it so many times that sometimes when I'm stuck in traffic I'll sing it to myself. "Ho-ha, ho-ha-ho-ha-HAAAA! He-ho, he-ho-ho, he-ho-ho, HAAAAA!"

I guess I really am a fan. Talking about this movie gives me a warm little glow like talking about an old pet dog that had mismatched eyes and three legs. "Well, he wasn't a normal dog, no... but he was so great, you guys!"
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:31 PM on February 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


"Jean-Baptiste. Emanuel. Zorg" makes me laugh every time. It may be my favorite line in the movie. So so so French.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:33 PM on February 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


This movie came out right after my family moved to England. I had no friends, was in high school, and I generally just hung around my house moping while waiting for time to pass. I drove to the Odeon four to five times to see it, over and over. Ever since, it has been one of my favorite movies and definitely one I would probably insist on having with me on a deserted island (which apparently has some kind of power supply, a tv and a means to play movies on it).

The cinematography grabs you from the beginning with the alien ship landing outside the butte/temple in the middle of the Egyptian desert. Not to mention, the wild cameo by Luke Perry, his scorecard, and the way the professor becomes so engrossed with his discovery that when he fails to tell the difference between Azi's reflective light and the massive beams of light from the ship. Then, of course, "Are...are....you Germans?" AND, the alien shakes his head. LOVED IT. In between all of this, of course, is the priest who's getting ready to poison everyone to preserve the secret of the Fifth Elements, etc. The tension and the music....and then it all cuts to the future. BAM.

There are so many small moments in the film which contribute to its greatness, be it Dallas waking up to the phone ringing, his cat meowing at the door, to the attempted robbery with what felt like a spontaneous dance by the would be criminal. The opera scene mesmerized me and set me to trying to find opera to listen to as my mind was haunted by the diva's celestial performance. Even the cops buying McDonalds and having their food sideswiped, "Wow!" Nearly every action scene was just the right length with just the right punctuation marks for comedic quips, such as Dallas asking Ruby how tall he was and telling him to stay still, or Leelo inviting the Mangalore to come at her with her fingers, or "I wonder where he learned to negotiate like that..."

The casting was virtually perfect in almost every regard from Willis to Ian Holm to Gary Oldman to Jovovich, etc...etc. I love Zorg as the bad guy, because he's a bad guy who relishes being a bad guy and is 100% confident that he is correct in every decision he makes. I love Leeloo from the moment she crashes into Dallas' cab to mul-tee-pass to every butt kicking she delivers. Ruby Rodd, who shouldn't work, but does.

All of it swirls together into this perfect comedy action cinematic piece of too much fun underlined with the score that serves as the most excellent vehicle to move everything along and highlight it at the same time.

It's just the best.
posted by Atreides at 2:43 PM on February 12, 2016 [16 favorites]


You bastards are going to make me watch this movie another 5 times aren't you? Because the first 5 weren't enough.

I've always found something strangely endearing about the moment Zorg tells one of the shape-shifter aliens to never be ashamed of who he is. It's this weird, random, nice thing to say.... coming from this psycho villain with Hitler hair wrapped up in an acrylic gizmo.

Oldman has often complained he never gets to perform with his own hair-from the dreadlocks in True Romance to the giant white "horned" wig in Dracula. Every time I see him in this there's part of me that can FEEL him being pissed about the hair with acrylic thingy.
posted by miss-lapin at 3:19 PM on February 12, 2016


This is a wonderful movie - beautiful to look at, funny, silly, occasionally slightly moving. And infinitely watchable. I don't think one can really expect more from a movie.

I'm surprised I've not watched more Besson - I saw Leon, of course, and Subway a long, long time ago. I think the closest I've seen to this is The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec, which isn't quite The Fifth Element but is still lovely.
posted by Grangousier at 3:37 PM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


What, people hate Ruby Rhod? Fools, I tell you!
posted by moonmilk at 7:12 PM on February 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Bzzz! Bzzzzzzzzzzz!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:08 PM on February 12, 2016 [11 favorites]


When I learn that someone I otherwise like and respect isn't a fan of this movie, I am very... disappointed.
posted by STFUDonnie at 8:25 PM on February 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


I really love the bit where there's some kind of "border" in space, delineated by glowing buoys. Because on the one hand, it's a nice little joke, what a thoroughly ridiculous idea to have a line of buoys in 3D space. But on the other hand, of course humans would try to set up borders in space! Of course they would be that impractical!

Truly a great movie, Chris Tucker included. I wish there were more movies this gleefully over-the-top.
posted by equalpants at 10:09 PM on February 12, 2016


Where did you learn to negotiate like that?
posted by Sunburnt at 11:31 PM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


I really love Zorg as a villian, but I'm disappointed that he believes in the Broken Windows Fallacy. Though I suppose if you're an arms dealer, that's the sort of thing you have to tell yourself.

I also wonder what kind of hack he can obtain that can cause a remote telephone to violently explode. And if you could do that, would you make it as easy as he has it? Maybe you should need two hands to explode the person you're talking to on the phone. I've accidently hung up on people, or pressed a button while talking, but I've never managed to make their phone explode. (If one could do that, call centers and helpdesks would be staffed with high-trust employees.)
posted by Sunburnt at 11:39 PM on February 12, 2016


I guess it was actually the pitch that changed too fast in the "diva dance" part? Though you can find a clip on YouTube of Victoria Hovhannisyan getting pretty dang close to doing it live, and she nails the high note.

There's some obvious sampling/quantization going on near the end of the performance (starting around 4:25 in that clip), but the rest is definitely within reach for a human voice. People should listen to more opera :-)
posted by effbot at 11:55 PM on February 12, 2016


the performance

Which btw led me to this interview with a charming and very french Maïwenn about the filming, which I just realized was much younger when she played the diva than I thought (but then she was 15 when Besson started dating her, so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised...).

The "we're either together or we work together" bit in the beginning of course gets a bit more bittersweet when you know that he dumped her during the production.
posted by effbot at 1:31 AM on February 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm surprised I've not watched more Besson

Well, as a follow-up to Lucy (eh, let's ignore that) he's making a film described thus: Set in the 28th century, the film's central plot involves two spatio-temporal agents who travel the universe through space and time to protect the interests of the human species. They perform all kinds of tasks: space rescues, interplanetary exploration, diplomacy and galactic aliens negotiations. But one particular rule must be respected: never change the course of events.

And being based on a French comic Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets could be Fifth Element good. And I'd settle for Lockout good.

But he's also making Lucy 2.... which why?
posted by Mezentian at 1:54 AM on February 13, 2016


I wish there were more movies this gleefully over-the-top.

If I might step away from the joy that is TFE:
If "Tell me, do you bleed?" has taught us anything, grimdark rules okay.
posted by Mezentian at 1:55 AM on February 13, 2016


Well, as a follow-up to Lucy (eh, let's ignore that)

Nah, Lucy was fun until they ran into the obvious problem with the concept -- once the lead character got to the point that she had to be smarter than the screenwriters, everything just got immensely stupid. Integer overflow, basically.
posted by effbot at 2:04 AM on February 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


I absolutely love this film. I have a faded promo tshirt from an early screening. I went and saw it while it was showing as often as I could.

So many great faces in this movie.
posted by Catblack at 2:25 AM on February 13, 2016


People who love this movie should check out Lexx, no fooling. It's spectacularly uneven, but it's sci-fi with a similar WTF level, full of quotable lines and weird outfits and faces you won't see anywhere else. It's super Canadian and German (simultaneously), the way this movie is super French.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:38 AM on February 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


People who love this movie should check out Lexx, no fooling.

I tried to watch Lexx back in the VHS era.
God help me, I tried.
So, there are alternative views.
posted by Mezentian at 3:52 AM on February 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


"Aziz. LIGHT!! And then it went all crazy.

Must watch it again (again) - I think I've forgotten some quotes.
posted by arzakh at 3:53 AM on February 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


I tried to watch Lexx back in the VHS era.

Where did you start? It is sometimes quite awful, even a fan like me has to admit that. It's awful like nothing else, but good like nothing else too.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:05 AM on February 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


Where did you start?

At the beginning.
I don't think I have ever seen beyond S2.
But I am willing to give it a shot.
I mean, my burning love for Sapphire and Steel means I should give any show so beloved 20 years past airing a decent whirl.
posted by Mezentian at 5:07 AM on February 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh. Well, I can't say it IMPROVES exactly beyond season 2, so if you made it that far and didn't like it, it's probably just not for you. (How were you not a fan for life, after Mantrid? Or Brigadoom??)

The final season is 95% embarrassing, only redeemed by the series finale. The stuff before that is... great, sometimes. But it's so bizarre that if somebody hated it I could only shrug. It's kind of impossible to defend.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:21 AM on February 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


I watched the first few tapes (however they were ordered) and I thought something was there.
I will try harder.

I am after all the person who wrote an RPG setting that mixed Fifth Element, Vorlons, Ur-Quans and from there Lexx doesn't seem like that big a jump. Or Farscape.

NEW KICKSTARTER IDEA: SYFY PRESENTS: Lexx Vs Farscape. With David MaCallum as God, or Jennifer Lumley as God and David MaCallum as the Serpent/Prisoner).
posted by Mezentian at 6:08 AM on February 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


The only thing I remember about Lexx is Bugbomb. Good old loyal Bugbomb! And Bugbomb's theme music.
posted by moonmilk at 6:44 AM on February 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Heh. I wrote a few spec scripts for LEXX, and I'm sure I have the show bible around here somewhere. Got absolutely nothing from it, they didn't even return my calls, but I saw two or three episodes that reflected stuff exactly as they were in my scripts. That really bothered me - not that they had taken my ideas, but that my ideas were right in line with what they were doing and they didn't call me in for anything. I too could have been part of a crappy, often embarrassing sci-fi show (made right here in Halifax, Nova Scotia!) that attracted some great talent but squandered all its potential quickly.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 7:24 AM on February 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


Fifth Element perfectly captured all the things that I loved about reading Heavy Metal magazine as a teenager . Hell, the animated film - which was just boobs and violence - didn't even come close to capturing the same spectacle and wonder.

Aside, Lexx truly is awful but there are some great things wrapped up inside that turd.

I also hated it when it first appeared but somehow Stan and his crew started to grow on me like some strange space STD and while I can't really recommend it to others, it releaved an itch that I didn't know needed scratching.
posted by hoodrich at 10:35 AM on February 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


Oh look, it's Tricky. Remember when Tricky would be in things?
posted by Artw at 11:19 AM on February 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yes- and then, for a while, Goldie was in stuff.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:52 PM on February 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


I had the good fortune to meet a dog named Leeloo last week, which caused me to grin like an idiot and say "Leeloo Dallas Moolteepass!" The owner hadn't seen the movie and had no idea what I was talking about.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 4:54 PM on February 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


The 90s were weird.

Poor Bjork and her film outing.
posted by Artw at 4:54 PM on February 13, 2016


Honestly there was a time when you could get hyped for a movie because Ice-T, Henry Rollins and Iggy Pop were in it then get crushed with disappointment when it inevitably turned out to be a bit poo - I think Fifth Element's cameos come off not to badly amidst all that.
posted by Artw at 4:58 PM on February 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm just watching it now- interestingly, they don't actually tell Corbin Dallas to "freeze" before the "meat popsicle" line. They just ask him if he's classified as human.


Also, Cornelius could have solved a whole bunch of problems by letting Zorg choke to death on that cherry.

"See the lovely ballet that ensues, so full of form and color!"
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:11 PM on February 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


interestingly, they don't actually tell Corbin Dallas to "freeze" before the "meat popsicle" line. They just ask him if he's classified as human.

Oh! That explains why I thought it was just awkward tough guy talk. Maybe he DOES mean he's dead inside.

GhostintheMachine, if they did rip off your ideas that sucks, but there was definitely some very good stuff in that show mixed in with the bad. What were some of your ideas? I know that sometimes ideas for a show are almost inevitable, and it can really look like theft even if it's not. There was a legal case years ago where a guy was claiming Lost ripped off his TV pilot from the 1970s, and somebody pointed out how, if you're going to do an adventure TV show about a bunch of people stranded on an island, some ideas are just naturally going to happen. There WILL be a doctor, because people get injured. There WILL be a conman, because you want somebody in the cast you can't trust, who might betray everybody. There WILL be mysterious "others" on the island, because if the island is uninhabited it'd get boring fast, and likewise if you know everything about them too soon.

So is it possible your ideas were just things that were going to happen on the show anyway? And were they even reading spec scripts?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:36 PM on February 13, 2016


The 90s were weird.

Like that time Ice-T, best known for "Cop Killer" played a detective on a cop show a mutant kangaroo and had sex with Lori Petty.
posted by Mezentian at 7:55 PM on February 13, 2016 [7 favorites]


Iggy Pop was there too!

And me. In the audience. In ducking stunned belief at what a turd this movie of a favorite comic had turned out to be.

Was that before or after Judge Dredd? Anyway the comics weren't bad time to see your edge comic book fave hit the big screen.

Though, now I think of it, Fifth Element is a pretty good Incal.
posted by Artw at 9:52 PM on February 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Iggy Pop was there too!

Weirdest Wizard of Oz remake ever.
And yet, there is still time.

Was that before or after Judge Dredd?

My memory is after, with Dredd coming at the beginning end of the British invasion's assault on Hollywood, but time plays tricks.


(And here: Hardware reference. Because it must, like spice, flow.)
posted by Mezentian at 10:38 PM on February 13, 2016


Hardware is practically an 1990, and a pretty good adaptation of a Dreddworld tale even if they never paid for it, but I'd lump it in more with Robocop or the very 80s recent Dredd movie - they share a kind of grit.

Judge Dredd and Tank Girl were both 95 and feel soooo mid 90s. There's a particular kind of cheese there.

I could have sworn Element was 95, but no, I'm two years out there.
posted by Artw at 10:48 PM on February 13, 2016


Judge Dredd and Tank Girl were both 95

Wow.
I assumed Tank Girl (and I haven't looked it up) was later, because I know I saw it on VHS in the late 1990s.
I guess Tank Girl had insufferable fans that gave it a larger shadow than it deserved.

Also, these movies are 20 years old..... and since I went to my DVD shelf today to watch Fifth Element and it was not there... I figure there must be a special edition.... surely? Not a Lucas Special Edition, but a pristine, amazing version.
posted by Mezentian at 11:27 PM on February 13, 2016


I have started dating a lovely young lady. I knew she was a keeper when she caught my Fifth Element reference.

I told her she had won two all expenses paid trips to Fhloston Paradise. And she responded by singing Lionel Ritchie's All Night Long.
posted by hoodrich at 1:00 AM on February 14, 2016 [6 favorites]


The movie is streaming on Amazon Prime, so I rewatched the first third last night before falling asleep. It really is good, and along with inspiration from Heavy Metal-style comics, it was clearly drawing on those movies of New York in the 1970s, like Taxi Driver, with piles of trash, muggers, and urban decay.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:37 AM on February 14, 2016


was clearly drawing on those movies of New York in the 1970s, like Taxi Driver, with piles of trash, muggers, and urban decay.

Citation needed!

I'd argue the UK trash strike of the '80s and the French Strikes of $reason would be more likely.

And, if I had to guess, if Luc took inspiration from the US there would be warriors, and they would be called out to play.
posted by Mezentian at 5:05 AM on February 14, 2016


Citation needed!

Instead of "clearly," read "it seems to me..." It's what I was reminded of watching it, not any more of an informed opinion than that.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:12 AM on February 14, 2016


I watched something set in NY last night (trash piles everywhere!) and it reminded me of my own limited experiences in the UK (and I just watched a docco called Four Horsemen about the GFC), so I am looking for connections to stuff.

I miss Occupy. Why did SF never see Occupy?
posted by Mezentian at 5:18 AM on February 14, 2016


Hah well thanks to this thread I watched it again on Amazon last night. I love how it all just works, such a fun film.
posted by Carillon at 11:02 AM on February 14, 2016


was clearly drawing on those movies of New York in the 1970s, like Taxi Driver, with piles of trash, muggers, and urban decay.

Citation needed!


Naw, not really. Upthread the Heavy Metal / Metal Hurlant basis is well noted, as is the HM film (although held out as a failed exemplar). The primary antecedent is properly cited, O'Bannon and Moebius' Long Goodbye, which gives us among other things the future noir, Deckard and Hat Cop from the Expanse. But the cab is correctly drawn from Taxi Driver, and the antecedent is specifically the HM movie, in which the DeNiro cabbie appears in animated futureworld form.

So sure, Besson's personal experience of urban seventies dystopia probably involved European garbage collection strikes. But the media etymology of the dystopian furtureworld very clearly depends on the initially-cited precedents.
posted by mwhybark at 10:33 PM on February 14, 2016


Weirdly I first becevaware of garbage strikes through Fat Freddie's Cat comics.
posted by Artw at 10:35 PM on February 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Judge Dredd and Tank Girl were both 95 and feel soooo mid 90s. There's a particular kind of cheese there.

Best part about Tank Girl on rewatch is that Jet Girl is then unknown Naomi Watts
posted by leotrotsky at 8:40 AM on February 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


There are two competing theories regarding "meat Popsicle." The first is that it's Bruce Willis' way of explaining that he's spent a lot of time in stasis, and so his physical age won't match his records.

The second is that he's been told to freeze, and so he's being a smart ass, because now that he is frozen, he is no longer human, but a Popsicle made of meat.
A friend of mine had an interesting take on this -- he thought maybe Luc Besson had read Neuromancer and was thinking of the character Molly who had spent some time as a "meat puppet", aka a prostitute with a neural cutout chip . How one gets from "meat puppet" to "meat popsicle" I'm not sure, but it would fit with the sort-of-dystopian thing going on there.

I guess there's also the question of whether one of Gibson's "meat puppets" would be classified as human, which is what the police ask Corben. Molly was presumably still fully human during her meat puppet stint and afterward, despite whatever augments she picked up, so... I dunno. The argument gets sort of hazy at about this point, but in my headcanon it still works as well as any other theory.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 3:03 PM on February 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


So busy now!
posted by h00py at 3:27 PM on February 15, 2016


I'm a bit puzzled by these intricate theories about a throwaway comment -- I'm pretty sure he was just being snarky, given how absurd the situation was with his mother on the phone and Major Iceberg in the fridge and Leeloo in the shower and everyone telling him that the tickets are they key to saving the world, and the only reason the police doesn't tell him to stop fucking around is that they stumble upon the guy in the next apartment.
posted by effbot at 4:23 PM on February 15, 2016


Yeah, I don't think "Negative, I'm a meat Popsicle" is supposed to be something meaningful to the police. It's just a sarcastic answer to a stupid question, and probably would have caused trouble had his neighbor not opted for an even worse answer.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:55 AM on February 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


Nonsene, it's clearly a sign that Kubrick filmed the Apollo missions on a stage in Atlamtis. WAKE UP POPSICLES!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:13 AM on February 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


leotrotsky: for years, I referred to Naomi Watts as "that chick who played Jet Girl".

mmmmm. Jet Girl. *swoon*
posted by rmd1023 at 6:11 AM on February 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


What about a 'roided-out Stephen King?

You could maybe make King up to look like RanXerox but as soon as he opened his mouth his reedy voice would break the spell. Not to mention the physicality demanded of the role. But Ron Perlman was born to play him, as he already proved in Hellboy.
posted by scalefree at 6:19 PM on February 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


Oh man, I missed that this thread was here.

This movie is completely glorious. I think the moment I knew I was fully in love with it, the first time I saw it, was when they reveal the stones are with an opera diva. That's just... just... something that doesn't happen in sci-fi movies?

Dare I say there's something a bit gay about this movie? Between the haute-couture Gaultier costumes, Bruce Willis in a muscle shirt, opera divas, strong female ass-kicking hero, campy radio show host... I've sometimes felt this feels like a sci-fi movie made by a gay man who didn't realize how unusual his choices were for the genre.
posted by dnash at 9:29 AM on March 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


Moolti-pass yes yes, but I have to say the one I quote the most is "Mmm chick-ahn..."
posted by like_neon at 8:47 AM on March 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


Chick-ahn... Goooooood gets regular play at my house.
posted by Fleebnork at 4:39 PM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Sunburnt: Where did you learn to negotiate like that?
I wonder.

Although, the one I seem to use most is, "If I knew. Father, do you smoke?"
posted by ob1quixote at 3:37 AM on May 1, 2016


I am suddenly reminded that the weird elephant-pet thing that Zorg makes is really fuckin creepy.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:28 AM on May 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


On the telly as I type, and as Mrs Me points out where she sat in the Royal Opera House last night. My thing tonight is that I love that Dallas is so transported by the Diva's performance that he's the first to stand for the ovation. I keep forgetting how optimistic twenty years ago was.
posted by Grangousier at 4:01 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]


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