The Fifth Element ★★★★

What an insane amount of fun. Luc Besson’s vision for this sci-fi classic was to portray a future that wasn’t dark and foreboding, but instead bright and cheerful and “funny”—and he completely delivered here. He did away with the typically gloomy interiors that were customary for most science fiction movies at the time and instead shot most of his scenes in broad daylight. It’s just one of many smart choices he made that allowed this to stand out in a genre that was otherwise dominated by grim and menacing dystopian settings. For once, the future depicted in this is one that I could get completely on board with.

It’s quite frankly a completely bonkers experience, and I’m not convinced that any thought was spared to ensure that much of it made the slightest bit of sense, but it really doesn’t matter. There are enough colourful characters and flashy aesthetic aspects here to completely distract you from any shortcomings in the plot. The production design alone is off the charts nuts—it’s brilliant, and feels completely unique. I particularly love how clunky a lot of the alien designs are.

But if you’re not wowed by the set and costume designs (which you absolutely should be, given they were the work of Jean Paul Gaultier) you can just goggle at Gary Oldman’s mad turn as the villain Zorg (a sort of Southern hick Hitler) or his multicoloured elephantine desk pet (not a euphemism) or the seven foot tall blue-skinned squid-headed alien singing opera on a space cruise. Honestly, what could you possibly not love about any of this?

It’s just so daft, so garish, and so. much. fun.

Tom liked these reviews