The Fifth Element (1997)
★★★ / ★★★★
I didn’t know much about this movie when I decided to watch it so my expectations were not that high. I thought it was going to be another one of those science fiction movies that deals with the apocalypse and so happens to take itself way too seriously. I couldn’t be anymore more wrong because “The Fifth Element,” written and directed by Luc Besson, was as funny and interesting as the vibrant colors that could be found in it throughout. Every 5,000 years, a strange power appears and tries to engulf life. It could be stopped by combining the powers of fire, water, wind, earth and the supposed “fifth element” for another five thousand years and the cycle continues. Bruce Willis stars as Korben Dallas, a taxi driver in futuristic New York who used to work for the military. He got sucked into the madness of intergalactic battle when Milla Jovovich–the fifth element, also known as the perfect being–literally dropped into his taxi. Their mission was to gather all the elements and save the planet from being obliterated into oblivion. Gary Oldman as the evil Zorg, Ian Holm as the priest, and Chris Tucker as the hilariously flamboyant DJ also star. I enjoyed this movie more than I expected to because its pace was quick; it didn’t dwell on the specifics on who’s who and what their intentions and motivations are. This film definitely reminded me of a hybrid between the “Star Wars” saga and the B movies of the 1950’s because it had that nice balance of imagination and humor. The only minor complaint I had was that sometimes it managed to distract itself from the story to make room for some of the more obvious funny moments. Tucker was the one who stole most of the scenes he was in because he was able to focus his manic personality into a character that had to be very enthusiastic about everything every time he was on his program. As for the visual and special effects, yes, they are sort of dated but I really didn’t care because I’m more concerned about the concept, how well a film builds on the story, and how it utilizes its characters. “The Fifth Element” is one of those movies that one can really enjoy if one doesn’t mind watching something over-the-top on a slow night.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
★★★ / ★★★★
Gary Oldman stars as Count Dracula, a man who found his love named Elisabeta (Winona Ryder) died after he arrived from the war. The priests did not want to give Elisabeta a proper burial because she committed suicide. This angered Dracula, denounced God and was cursed to live for eternity lusting for blood. Hundreds of years later, Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves) was assigned to help Dracula to buy some property in London unknowing of the vampire’s true intentions. Eventually, Dracula set his sights on Harker’s wife (also played by Ryder) because she looked exactly like his former lover and Dr. Van Helsing (Anthony Hopkins) stepped in to help. I’m not entirely convinced on whether to recommend this picture. While I did find the asthetics magnificent and the execution of the story to be just fine, some crucial elements did not meet my expectations. I thought it sacrificed a lot of the terror for the sake of romance. When I watch a movie about Dracula, I expect to be suspended in suspense instead of watching him yearn over a lover. I thought the best scenes in the film were in the first half. There was something extremely creepy about the whole vibe of the castle when Jonathan visited Dracula in Transylvania. Every shadow and dark corner of the room felt menacing as if something seriously wrong was about to happen. The soundtrack was used sparingly so that the audiences could hear every creak and footstep made in the castle. The second half of the movie felt exactly the opposite. There were overt sexual references, consistent loud noises and the pacing became static. While it still remained elegant, I began to feel more apathetic toward each character when I should have been rooting for them because lives were at stake. Regardless of its flaws, I was still curious on what was going to happen next because Francis Ford Coppola, the director, had interesting techniques when it came to presenting his audiences gothic imagery. Coppola spent too much of his time with the images and asthetics of the picture that he somewhat neglected his characters and where the story was going. I’m not sure how closely this followed Bram Stoker’s original 1897 novel because I haven’t read it. But I must say that it definitely took me back to that time period. So in terms of escapism, I think this movie did a good job. However, when I try to really analyze it piece by piece, I’m not that impressed with it. It’s the strangest feeling.