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The Fifth Element
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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.
Okay, so I watched this last night again for about the 50th time and really analyzed it to see whether my 8-year-old could watch it. We curse around the house, so the language I'm not concerned with. This movie, language-wise was a lot cleaner than Goonies. I'm on the fence and here's why; the violence, with the killings, fighting, and the explosions, is on the level with most of the more modern films like Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Transformers films. So if your kid has been okay with any of those, then the violence in this movie will seem normal to them, because I think this is what a lot of people expect from this type of film based on comic-book style . If they've never seen anything with violence, death, and explosions, then this isn't the movie for them. They do shoot aliens a lot who bleed in different colors.
In terms of the fighting and the civic confrontation, there is a bit of in-your-face lack of respect for the law and authority on the whole in this movie. Korbin runs from the cops, they joke about him having no points left on his license, there is a running joke throughout the movie of his mother being a needy nagging woman who is always trying to guilt him. Overall the movie pokes fun at the absurd controls in place in the future, requiring residents to place their hands in the circles when police show up for a "police control," complete with voice over.
On the innuendo however, and this is where I'm on the fence, my kid picks up on a lot of things. He's the kind of kid who covers his ears when people are kissing on screen, so I'm not concerned with the love scenes, yet. He knows how procreation works, hasn't seen it in a flick, but understands the whole life cycle (think junior high health level book knowledge). In the beginning of the film, the main character talks about his ex-wife with his boss, Finger, on the phone, about how she was a "two-timing slut." Later we find out it was his lawyer she ran away with. We don't use language disrespectful of women in our house, and I will have to explain what this word implies and how bad it is.
LeeLoo, the 5th Element, is introduced in a cellular reconstruction chamber where she is regrown from her "perfect"ly engineered DNA, after being destroyed. People who are regrown are not going to grow their own clothing, so she is nude. If you or your children are embarrassed by the naked female form (from the side at a distance) then this is not the film for you. This scene lasts for about 15 seconds, until they cover her with thermal bandages, which really seem to adhere to her body, so there is no more nudity, save a couple of quick blurry hints that she's changing her clothing in the background in a couple of scenes, during which the men in the scene are looking toward the camera, seemingly embarrassed that she's not familiar with a decency culture, and away from her. Some people might say the thermal bandages would make her scantily clad, but no more so than a woman at the beach in her bikini. Considerably more than what Princess Leia was wearing when she killed Jabba.
Clothing-wise I believe quite a few of the characters are braless because their nipples are erect. I think the director just likes hard cold nipples under clothing? They don't however mention nipples though (unlike the Guardians of the Galaxy v2 movie) and don't make any comments about ANY body parts throughout the 5th element movie in an adult nature.
There is an alien disguised as a woman who is wearing a translucent green plastic skirt and thong-style undergarment, shown walking away from the camera, just before she shoots at the police and dives into a pile of garbage. Her head is shaved, and tattooed, so some people might not get the nature of the outfit.
On the Fhloston paradise flight and the scene leading up to it there are all female flight attendants wearing dresses with little half moons so the tops of their breast skin is showing. Nothing shows, but it's obviously a very sexist outfit based on the 1950s style flight attendant outfits with the knee-length skirts.
Miss Ruby Rhod is a very flamboyantly hetero cross-dresser. In one scene they show him/her popping up into the scene from below where a fully-clothed flight attendant is acting as though she's being treated disrespectfully. They are both fully clothed, so this might be confusing for some children and young teens. Immediately following they show the back of her dress top which has hook-eye closures being partially undone. In the next scene, as the plane is taking off and the landing gear is going up, a woman's legs are seen (presumably the flight attendant's) raising into the air down a hallway, then lowering. This part doesn't seem sexual in nature to me, but the audio that coincides, sort of hints at what is happening, nothing too obvious though, so I'm not sure that my kid will get it. Also her legs are too close for practicality in terms of the implication. This whole scene is very complicated, switching back and forth between the actions of Ruby Rhod and the attendant, and the Priest Victor Cornelius trying to get onto the plane, the pilots preparing for take-off, the ground crew prepping for take-off, and the bad guys blowing each other up due to the failed attempt at boarding the plane, so it's not like it's one constant scene.
On the ship/hotel, Ruby Rhod reads from a card about the trip, very quickly, "The hotel of a thousand and one follies, lollies, and lick 'em lollies. A magic fountain flow of non stop wine, women and cootchie cootchie coo! All night long. (singing) *All night long, all night!! ...And start licking your stamps little girls, this guy's gonna have you writing home to Momma! Right here from 5 to 7, I'll be your voice, your tongue and I'll be hot on the tail of the sexiest man of the year... D-man... Your man... My man." When he sings, it's in reference to the Lionel Richie song "All Night Long," (the one where they talk about dancing in the street). If your kid is familiar with the song, they might think dancing is what they're talking about since Ruby Rhod dances a little while singing.
There are many comments on The Fifth Element, LeeLoo's, appearance in terms of being "perfect." For parents of little girls I think this could be a bad example because LeeLoo is played by Milla Jovovich, who at this point is on the European model side of thin, some people are shaped this way naturally. She doesn't look "unhealthy," but if you're trying to portray what a "perfect" woman looks like to your daughter, then there are better examples out there in terms of what to strive for in terms of attainable body image. (I might be reaching a bit.) I will have to explain to my boy how no one body type is "perfect."
On the strong female role however, LeeLoo's part is very strong. She constantly tells Korbin that she's the 5th Element, the supreme being, and she will protect him. Then she kicks quite a bit of butt in fight scenes.
There is a lot in this film that denounces violence and war, and the overall message of the film is that love conquers all.
The very last scene that goes into the credits shows LeeLoo and Korbin in the cellular regeneration chamber with no clothing on hugging, with a final kiss, from the shoulders up. The tech prior to this shot says they're "not quite ready, 5 more minutes" then makes a hand gesture that they are meshing together.
I think if I show my very mature 8-year-old this film that the innuendo will be over his head at this point. If I wait, I'll have to wait until he's probably 13 because then he'll be asking about all of the innuendo.
Chris Tucker flamboyant character is insufferably annoying, completely useless, and once it appeared on the screen, it hindered the flow of the narrative and hampered the plot, which is, by the way, is flawed; it suffers from fast pacing at the beginning, and gradual decline of plausibility that leads to a cut-rate kid's movie ending.
Nevertheless, most of the above-mentioned issues didn't bother me at all. Actually the movie exceeds my expectations. It's a thoroughly gleeful sci-fi/action romp brimming with creativity; marvellous inventive visuals, distinctive style and idiosyncratic tone, and splendid and utterly unique world-building.
The characters are quite relatable, and well-developed and have some reasonable depth into them, especially Leeloo, who brought to life by Milla Jovovich. Bruce Willis showed his solid action chops and plenty of stamina and charisma to make Korben Dallas a quite likable hero. Gary Oldman plays the villain of the movie, Zorg, and I think that his fantastic over-the top performance is more than enough to elevate his rather uneven character that was hindered by the decline of the plot's cleverness.
The movie also has an awesome utilization of its electrifying soundtrack in the action sequences, which are pretty cool!
The Fifth Element is a helluva fun time; but that doesn't necessarily mean it's dumb at all. In fact the movie has some surprisingly deep moments that work pretty well despite the fact that Luc Besson never wanted us to take his movie seriously. I can see now why many fans hated Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets!
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?