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Is The Fifth Element one of the best or the worst science fiction movies of all time? A surprise box office success in 1997, the movie is regarded as a spectacular feat of bravado and imagination by some, and a formless, sexist mess by others.
Writer/Director Luc Besson first started writing The Fifth Element when he was 16 years old, and the movie has all the hallmarks of a teenage boy’s fantasy, from the frenetic pacing to the fetishisation of the female form, primarily personified by Milla Jovovich’s barely verbal Leeloo. Throw in some classic Gary Oldman scenery chewing, Chris Tucker bulldozing through his scenes like a sexually aggressive Jar Jar Binks, and designer Jean Paul Gaultier given free reign on some of the most bizarre costumes ever committed to celluloid, and the entire film operates at such a heightened level that it constantly threatens to tip over the edge into full-blown train wreck territory.
That it doesnt – if it doesn’t – is largely down to the sheer confidence with which the film is deployed. The plot, such as it is, bears very little scrutiny, but unlike many modern sci-fi movies, the movie doesn’t feel the need to try to make sense of itself. It simply presents some very basic stakes – a mysterious black orb is threatening to engulf the galaxy, Gary Oldman wants to facilitate this because… reasons, Milla Jovovich somehow holds the key to saving the day – and invites you to sit back and enjoy the ride.
Given the film grossed over $260 million at the Global Box Office, it’s a small wonder that no sequel or spin-off of any note has ever materialised. Perhaps nobody but Besson himself could possibly hope to recapture the singular tone and vision of the original movie, and he’s spent the subsequent years pursuing numerous other, equally divisive projects. (Lucy 2 is apparently in development).
Or perhaps it falls to Beyond The Box Set to pick up the creative mantle and revive this gonzo universe for a new generation of cinema goers? You can listen to this week’s podcast to hear our pitches in full, but here’s a brief summary of our ideas:
Harry’s Pitch | The Fifth Element: Odyssey of the Fifth
John’s Pitch | The Fifth Element: Mangalore Nights
Our Fifth Element episode is available through iTunes, Stitcher, acast, Overcast, Pocket Casts or Player FM, so give us a listen and let us know who you think has the best pitch this week. We’re highly competitive and strongly encourage you to contribute to the ruination of our friendship.
A film as rich and bizarre as this one has endless potential for sequel, remake or spin-off ideas, and as ever we’d love to hear yours. Leave a comment below or contact us via Facebook or Twitter and we’ll read out the best ideas on a future episode.