The Fifth Element

Call the man supremely civilized whose idea of science fiction springs from Flash Gordon by way of The Magic Christian. Maslin of the New York Times inexplicably considers Besson “his nation’s worst nightmare,” and Ebert on the whole agrees that this is a terrible infant. On the contrary, The Fifth Element is a first and necessary work to regenerate the fled quintessence in Star Wars, namely art.

The significance is this, that there is an evil plot today in Hollywood to conquer the world by remaking its film masterpieces with all their art studiously removed, thus making the world safe for preposterousness. Besson saith restore, and shows you what can be done with a silly franchise even if you keep it simple.

The result is, very naturally, embarrassing for the cannon fodder that is said to constitute the American moviegoing public, and an irritation overall to the critics. Amid countless jovial witticisms, one merely calls your attention to a shot lasting a second or so, showing traffic in a future street floating along suspended in midair between the buildings, because it’s done correctly (at whatever the cost) and is a work of art.