Thursday, October 07, 2004

(P)Resident Evil and the Fifth Element

Linda, your review of Resident Evil reminded me of a news item in the Sept. 10 issue of the LA Weekly. The movie figured in some interesting billboard art about a month ago: someone doctored up a Resident Evil billboard to change it to PResident Evil, and changed Milla Jovovich's face to George W. Bush's mug. Whatever one's politics, I think we could probably all agree that Milla is prettier.

Your review reminded me of a movie from my of list of All Time Stupid Fun Movies: The Fifth Element. It was a gorgeous, ridiculous confection of a science fiction movie, with several twists that made it more enteratining that I ever expected. I think I originally saw it because the kids wanted to go, and in the process broke my rule against Bruce Willis movies. I stopped grumbling only a few minutes into the film: I am a fool for romanticised archaeology (see the Bubba Ho-Tep review) and that's where The Fifth Element started. It combined some pretty standard sci-fi baloney (creepy evil spaceships threaten the earth, clownish politicians and military can't cope, oh no oh no what shall we do) with New Age baloney, supermodels, digs at organized religion, bureaucracy, marketing, globalization.... oh, it was a blast.

Luc Besson wrote and directed it, starring Willis, Gary Oldman, Milla Jovovich, Ian Holm, Luke Perry and Chris Tucker. There was eye-candy galore, dinged-up spaceships, gorgeous weird costumes, and futuristic folderol, but what made the movie work for me was the collision of characters. The story was thin and rather predictable, but the characters inhabiting it more than made up the difference.

The twist, of course, was that the superman come to save the earth was a Supermodel. She had brains and heart and could put ol' Bruce in his place with a swat. There's an amusing bit of commentary on religion,which was fun. And the Bad Guy hit precisely the right note of buffoonery and menace: Gary Oldman did a satisfying job of chewing up every bit of scenery within his reach.

A great film? I don't think so. An entertaining couple of hours? You bet. Add this one to the Stupid Fun Hall of Fame. Thumbs up!

I reactivated my Netflix subscription so I can keep up with your movie-going -- more soon!


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