Here is an article I wrote in my application to a content writing job for Industrial Scripts, Europe’s premier script editing company.
Why The Fifth Element is the Best Bad Movie Ever
Gary Oldman stomping around with his funny leg and dodgy accent from the American South. Chris Tucker shouting, screaming and picking up chicks on space faring airplanes. Some claptrap about holding out for that one perfect woman.
And Bruce Willis with died blonde hair.
The Fifth Element should be the worst movie ever, but it’s not. It’s bloody brilliant.
Ok, maybe the fact that Luc Besson (Leon, Taken) is responsible for this sci-fi classic had something to do with it, but there are so many elements that come together to make this film worth your time.
The incredibly atmospheric set design feels truly unique in the history of sci-fi cinema, no mean feat in a genre that regularly cannibalises itself for lack of imagination. Navy staff eerily rotate in circles onboard a warship about to be consumed by a shifting mass of pure evil, a luxurious cruise ship complete with opera stage skims the surface of an ocean world and Korben Dallas’ (Willis) tiny apartment with featureless IKEA-like furniture that constantly adjusts itself to the cramped space, all while rush hour traffic flies past in the polluted mega city.
The eclectic selection of frankly bizarre and nutty characters are what really brings the film to life. Dallas is the only character that has the Hollywood clichés about him, with his muscled arms swinging around a bunch of guns in the ‘Murica! take no bulls*** attitude. Then there’s Leeloo (Milla Jovovich), a bright orange haired human-looking alien who pulls funny faces and speaks bad English. And also happens to be the saviour of mankind against pure evil. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman) struts about with a weird bit of plastic that sits on his head and yet still menaces the crap out of the film (except when he’s choking on a grape and is being laughed at by his alien pet). And of course there’s Ruby Rhod (Tucker). He shouts. And screams. A lot.
This cast is surrounded by a costume designer’s dream. Fat hulking Mondoshawns (good aliens) that can make objects levitate but walk so slow they still manage to get crushed to death in closing doors. The Mangalore (bad aliens) with ugly haggard faces that look like what the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would have if they’d been crack addicts. Special mention goes to the platinum haired airline hostesses, ukulele playing luxury cruise staff in Hawaiian t-shirts and Zorg’s massively muscular and massively camp henchmen.
The plot communicates a timeless message that it seems we never learn except in the movies; namely accepting love as the only power that can overcome evil, lest evil consume us all. I take issue with Dallas waiting for and being rewarded with the whole ‘one perfect woman’ spiel (see, I’m not learning my lesson!), but what the hey. Leeloo’s crash landing into Dallas’ cab is the perfect catalyst for Willis’ character to develop from disillusioned cab driver to saviour of not just the earth but the entire flipping universe. No wonder he falls for her.
All of this though, is not why I love the film.
The real reason I can watch this film again and again because it’s bloody fun. Ultimately, this is what makes it so memorable.
It doesn’t take itself seriously, and even the fight scenes are touched with a great sense of humour. Case in point; Leeloo taking time out to repeatedly slap a Mangalore around the face during her martial arts scene, and the look on Dallas’ face when Roy Von Bacon chucks him a couple of snooker balls to fight the Mangalores with. Priceless. These over-the-top characters and bombastic scenes are for pure entertainment. You can watch it again and again.
Weirdly enough it’s British comedian Lee Evans (one of my favourite stand ups, but that’s for another article) that is the least funny when he’s meant to be. Luckily, his exaggerated acting makes him unintentionally funny, so it still works.
If you haven’t got this film yet then it’s high time to add it to your shelf / hard drive. If you want the DVD or Blu-Ray it will have to be bought online however, in the UK it seems impossible to get it in store.
So there you have it. The Fifth Element. The best sci-fi film your grandchildren will never hear of.