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The Fifth Element:The Ultimate Edition

In Luc Besson's The Fifth Element (1997), Bruce Willis plays Korben Dallas, a bad-boy New York taxi driver in the 23rd century who has a cute-meet with a gorgeous, scantily clad redhead (Milla Jovovich) when she comes crashing through the roof of his flying taxi. What he doesn't know is that Leeloo is "The Fifth Element," a perfect being whose return has been prophesied, destined to save the world from an unspeakable Evil lurking in the murky blackness of space. Giving Evil a hand is a human named Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman), a Hitleresque, half-bald psychopath with a Texas drawl who's planning to send his alien army off to gather up the remaining four Elements so that Evil can obliterate the planet. On the fabulous resort Fhloston Paradise, Korben, Leeloo, a priest named Cornelius (Ian Holm) and a hyperkinetic media star named Ruby Rhod (Chris Tucker) all intersect to battle the forces of badness and save mankind. With fabulously kitschy costuming by Jean Paul Gaultier (he of the pointy-bra look favored by the early-90's Madonna) and state-of-the-art effects by Digital Domain, the awe-inspiring visuals created by Mezieres and Moebius for The Fifth Element were brought hilariously to life on-screen. Luc Besson's 23rd century New York City is a teeming, organic mass of busy-ness, as believable as it is fantastic — in fact, every set, every vehicle, every gizmo in the film fulfills real-world functions along with offering eye-catching visual design. It's a future world that feels like it could still be very real, giving a concrete foundation to the silly comic-book adventure that unfolds. Columbia TriStar's third DVD release is entitled the "Ultimate Edition," leading one to believe that this is the final, definitive version (we'll see, won't we?) While the title's been released a couple of times before, this one offers not just the Superbit anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) of the film, but a second disc chock-full of extras, too. The audio, in DD 5.1 Surround or DTS (with an array of optional subtitles) is excellent, giving all of the speakers a hearty workout with deep space booms, explosions, gun effects and Eric Serra's eclectic classical-meets-hip-hop score. Disc One offers a trivia subtitle track, which provides a running commentary of mostly useless tidbits during the film; Disc Two extras are divided between a number of submenus devoted to the film's visual elements, casting, aliens, costumes, special effects, the Diva character, a poster gallery, and trailers for other Columbia TriStar releases. Dual-DVD slimline keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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