A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Fifth Element moves from one action sequence to another in quick succession In all cases, the comic book violence is loud, magnified, and very much in your face. There are explosions, gunfights, creepy mutant aliens, mustache-twirling villains, bodies dropping on all sides, futuristic car chases, and battles to the death. Assorted lethal villains carry powerful, multi-purpose weapons and use them indiscriminately, spraying gunfire in crowded places and blowing up entire planets and spaceships. The female hero is seen numerous times in a partially nude state, including once wearing only carefully-placed tape. In general, the sexuality is played for laughs: one scene implies that a couple is engaged in oral sex, but it's shot from the shoulders up; in other sequences women wear very revealing outfits. A bit of language ("s--t" and "ass"), smoking, and drinking.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
It's several centuries in the future and the forces of evil search for "THE FIFTH ELEMENT," which when united with water, wind, Earth, and fire, will enable them to destroy all living things. Only the unwavering efforts of a sardonic cab driver (Bruce Willis), an enlightened priest (Ian Holm), and a valiant female super-being from an uncorruptible distant world (Milla Jovovich) can save civilization. In their quest, the three must elude capture by the authorities on their own pleasure-seeking, celebrity-obsessed home planet, as well as battle nefarious villains of all species, shapes and sizes, including the bloodthirsty Zorg (Gary Oldman, who has created an criminal even more outrageous than his usual).
Is it any good?
Simplicity is not one of the virtues of this fantastical effort by French director Luc Besson to come up with a most American comic book adventure. His goal, along with the writers and production artists, is to provide a nonstop actioner with magic in its design, larger-than-life heroes and villains, and great comic set pieces that playfully make fun of this century's excesses.
The story in The Fifth Element isn't easy to follow, but it doesn't really matter because the audience is never in one place long enough to stop and ponder it. Characters check in and out regularly, getting increasingly more bizarre. These include Chris Tucker as a hyperbolic radio icon in drag (who makes absolutely no sense in relation to the rest of the plot) and the "Diva Plavalaguna," a mutant alien opera singer who bleeds blue and carries a very big plot hole along with her very big voice. Still Besson has succeeded in creating a fast-paced, clever, even romantic adventure with battles that should satisfy even the most ardent comic book fans.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the nature of the violence in The Fifth Element. Is cartoon violence easier to accept than real violence? Are the larger-than-life characters, including space aliens, as scary as real villains? At what age do you think kids know the difference between real and make believe violence?
How was commercial activity and marketing portrayed in this movie? Do you think it's a realistic vision of the future? Is that something that bothers you or does it seem normal? What is the effect of being constantly marketed to?
The filmmakers presented their picture of life on earth in the future. What kind of world would you create if you were making a movie or writing a book? What would you want to save from today's civilization? What would you want to eliminate?
- In theaters: May 9, 1997
- On DVD or streaming: December 10, 1997
- Cast: Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Milla Jovovich
- Director: Luc Besson
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Run time: 126 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sci-fi violence, some sexuality and brief nudity
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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