DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

The Fifth Element, Blu-ray (replacement version)

The full 1080p resolution does make the film look even more amazing than it did before.

Published on July 30, 2007

The Fifth Element, Blu-ray (replacement version)
The Fifth Element, Blu-ray (replacement version)

Starring: Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, Gary Oldman, Ian Holm
Director: Luc Besson
Studio: Columbia Pictures 21520
Video: 2.40:1 enhanced for 16:9, color, 1080p HD
Audio: English uncompressed 5.1 PCM, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, French 5.1
Subtitles: English & English SDH, French, Chinese, Thai, Portuguese, Spanish
Extras: Trivia fact track in optional display at bottom of screen; previews
Length: 125 minutes
Rating: *****

We reviewed the standard DVD of The Fifth Element back here.  It was also reissued in a Superbit version without all the extras.  But the first Blu-ray version – which was among the initial batch of releases with the launch of the new hi-def format – was a complete bust.  Something went very wrong in the transfer.  Now Sony is making amends, although there is nothing on the remastered replacement version to indicate there was any problem.  if you have the faulty Blu-ray, just email consumer@sphecustomersupport.sony.com or call 800-860-2878 and they will replace your copy of the first release at no charge.

This time one gets the full 1080p resolution and it does make the film look even more amazing than it did before. The scene with Leeloo leaping off the skyscraper shows thrilling depth and detail in the layers of flying vehicles and buildings below.  The soundtrack choices are the same as the first Blu-ray, and those were fine. The uncompressed surround is a great leap from even the Dolby TrueHD and from the DTS of the Superbit version. The gunfire and explosions are at the peak of what most equipment can handle without strain.  I was hoping the increased clarity might let me actually make some sense out of all the caterwauling of Chris Tucker as MC Ruby Rhod, but it didn’t. Some people felt his character was one of the funniest parts of this film that frequently veers into sci-fi comedy, but not me.

I had forgotten the opening scenes of the film, which are very much like those of the original Stargate, taking place in 1920s Egypt. Besson threw together something of a hodgepodge of unlikely elements for his 23rd century tale in The Fifth Element, but in general they all seem to work. There’s the Bruce Willis gun-fighting, the sit-com elements, the saving the universe theme, the parody of TV shows and their hosts, the cute cat, the ancient Egyptian influence, the good and bad aliens, good alien disgust at learning how earth’s past history shows us always killing one another, even the triumph of true love at the end.  And the scene with the aria sung by the many-appendaged blue alien diva remains in the Blu-ray version one of the very best HT demos you could ever regal visitors with – both visually and aurally.  As far as I’m concerned, the film is right up there with Blade Runner, Terminator 2 and 2001, and has a lot more laughs in the bargain!

 – John Sunier

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