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YMMV / The Fifth Element

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  • Anvilicious: War Is Bad, kids. "Make love, not war." Making love is much more fun.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Ruby Rhod. So much so that Empire Magazine voted him The most annoying character in Film History. He does have his fans, however, many of whom find him to be one of the funniest things in the movie.
    • The Diva, whose performance is either Awesome Music or a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment, depending on who you ask.
  • Cliché Storm: An example turned intentional. Luc Besson was a child when he wrote the script, producing as a result a corny story filled with unsubtle inspirations from his beloved Franco-Belgian Comics, but he elected to leave the plot mostly untouched when he got to make the film as a grownup. Given the film runs on Rule of Fun, the whole thing can be considered a Homage to those works instead.
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  • Complete Monster: Though the film is mostly light-hearted, it does have the vicious businessman, Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg, who abandons any semblance of humanity in the name of profit. Using the Mangalores to try and steal the stones of the four elements that would save the world from "Mr. Shadow", Zorg intends to allow Earth to be destroyed in return for payment from Shadow. Attacking a luxury ship to Floston Paradise, Zorg and the Mangalores kill countless innocents, before trying to blow up the ship and escape with the stones. Loyal to no one, Zorg also seemingly sells weapons to the Mangalores, only for them to self-destruct and kill them, and fires one million taxi drivers out of callousness during an economic downturn.
  • Cult Classic: Though unsuccessful at its time, the film has a lot of fans who appreciate its unique aesthetics, high memetic value and sheer Narm Charm.
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  • Fashion-Victim Villain: Zorg's tailor needs to calm the hell down. Pretty much any aspect of his goofy outfits - the transparent clear-plastic dome that only covers half his head, the hideous haircut and "Hitler soulpatch", the pinstriped trenchcoats - would be bad enough on their own, but together they go so far beyond merely cheesy that they almost circle around to being totally awesome again.
  • Genius Bonus: The dark, oily Psychic Nosebleed that affects the battleship commander and Zorg is consistent with a subarachnoid hemorrhage seeping through a rupture in the skull; basically, it's a downplayed Your Head Asplode caused by the Brown Note of Mr. Shadow's anger.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The movie has a huge following in Russia, with the largest TV channels broadcasting it at least once a year.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Terrorists shooting up an airport hits a little too close to home nowadays.
    • Korben's kissing of Leeloo when she's asleep looks a lot less comic in the wake of the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements. Even more so now considering Luc Besson was accused of rape.
  • Heartwarming Moments: The little loving smile that appears on Korben's face when he realizes his mom is on the phone, even though she is already in the middle of a thorough rant complaining about her son. It's just nice to see a son loving his mother, and enjoying talking... er... listening... to her, despite the fact that she keeps criticizing him.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The multipass, a machine-readable all-purpose identification document? It might be coming sooner than you think it is.
    • Looks like Leeloo was 3-D printed from a disembodied arm. Why couldn't we do that now? We can, sort of. Prosthetic hands, that is.
    • The fact that the president is black became this when Barak Obama was elected President of the United States.
    • One of Ruby's entourage is seen carrying a handheld camera and using it to take selfies... years before smartphones showed up and the concept of taking your own snapshots exploded across the culture.
    • Having an ex-wrestler as President when celebrities are running for political office seems pretty prescient. And it's not the only time Lister plays a Reasonable Authority Figure.
    • After the increased celebrity status of YouTube "beauty gurus" like Jeffree Star and James Charles whose over-the-top makeup, clothes and acting make Ruby Rhod look positively subdued, the character now comes across less as ridiculous and now amusingly prescient.
  • Love to Hate: Zorg is a thoroughly despicable individual but he's also way too funny to totally hate.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Leeloo Dallas Moool-tii-paass!
    • "I am a meat popsicle."
    • Aziz, LIGHT!!Explanation 
      • Thank you Aziz.Explanation 
    • BZZZZZZZZZZZZ!.Explanation 
    • "Green?" "Supergreen."Explanation 
    • "Anyone else want to negotiate?"
    • The Ruby Rap. Oh, god, the Ruby Rap. When the Nintendo Switch was revealed, there was a gif on the internet set to this bragging about how great it was going to be.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Zorg crosses it the moment he tries to sell the stones to Mr. Shadow and thus nearly causing the deaths of millions of people on Earth.
  • Narm: Leeloo being pushed over the edge into thinking Humans Are Bastards by a shot of a nuclear explosion. It loses a lot of power when you realize: A) she has absolutely no context for what the image means, and B) seeing as it was filmed in the first place, it's probably just a test. A large part of the narm comes from the confusion as to how the hell hasn't she heard of war before? She's in the W letter of her encyclopedia, so presummably she's already learned the words "Battle" "Bomb" "Nuclear" "Atom" "Radiation" "Massacre" "Slaughter" "Soldier" "Gun" "Bullet" "Missile" and a pretty long list of warfare-related words that by all means should have familiarized her with war before.
  • Narm Charm: Pretty much the entire movie, as Besson wrote it when he was twelve. The whole thing comes across pretty much like a two-hour long big-budget Saturday morning cartoon in live action, and is all the more entertaining because of it.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The fact that the world seems to operate as a police state much of the time, as the cops can look into your home easily to check on you, point six remote guns at you for smacking a wall, or six cop cars can blast you with half a dozen machine guns each for being a suspected car thief.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • The alien opera diva doesn't have much screentime but her song is utterly unforgettable.
    • The guy who tries to mug Korben (played by French filmmaker Mathieu Kassovitz in a cameo), and his obnoxious neighbor ("SMOKE YOU!") who flips off the cops. Both appear for only those scenes, but they're widely seen as among the funniest in the whole movie.
    • The Mondoshawans only appear in the opening, but their uniquely creative, cool-yet-strangely-adorable designs make them intensely memorable.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: A spectacular example. The Fifth Element PS1 game by the creators of Nightmare Creatures landed on several worst-of lists that year. It got the first half-disc out of five rating in the Official US PlayStation Magazine. Also counts as a Porting Disaster since the PC version got much better reviews. Curiously, the game has a respectable IMDb rating of 7.6/10, from a disproportionately high number of votes, suggesting that a good chunk of these came from people who thought they were rating the movie.
  • The Scrappy: Ruby Rhod's supposed to be the comic relief, but the only thing he does is scream like a little girl and complain about everything in a grating, high-pitched voice, and while no one would call the rest of the movie a masterpiece of characterization, Ruby Rhod has zero depth to his character beyond being "humorously effeminate black guy." Not only that, he is completely useless and does nothing to help the plot or the other characters. This seems to be the point of the character, as protagonist Korben Dallas is frequently grimacing around Ruby and clearly dislikes him.
  • Signature Scene:
    • The moment where Leelo (dressed only in bandages) throws herself out off the side of a skyscraper into the aerial traffic of future New York (before crashing into the back of Korben's taxi).
    • Other contenders include her backflipping away from the Mangalores during the fight scene, striking a martial arts pose and making a Bring It gesture, and the scene where her body is reconstructed slice by slice using advanced medical technology.
    • Zorg showing off the ZF-1.
    • The Diva Dance scene is for many people the only scene from this movie that they've seen or heard of.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Korben's response to Leelo's Heroic BSoD about why life is worth saving in spite of things like war.
  • Special Effect Failure: Most of the effects work is at least good, but there are a few noticeable hiccups:
    • The "unbreakable" glass container Leeloo breaks out of clearly has a nice circle of breakaway glass, visible for at least a second before she actually punches it.
    • The black blood running down Zorg's head is creepy and all, but it really looks more like chocolate syrup, especially when smeared.
    • The wall Leeloo jumps through after the bit with the glass above is clearly tin foil painted bronze.
    • Diva is clearly Besson's then-wife wearing a bodysuit and prosthetics. The swirly head-tail jiggles and flexes a lot whenever she moves, making it look more like a foam hat than a body part.
    • After Right Arm fails to get aboard the plane, Zorg detonates a bomb to kill him. After the explosion, you can clearly see the mannequin meant to be Right Arm still intact.
  • Spiritual Licensee:
    • Often described as one of the best films based on European sci-fi comics, though not directly based on any. Instead, it's a mix of influences, and famed artists like Jean Giraud and Jean-Claude Mezieres did some concept art directly.
    • Additionally, it was considered to be the best adaptation of Valérian ever made, with Mézières himself, one of the co-creators of the comic, even working on the production design... that is, until twenty years later, when Besson finally got the opportunity to adapt Valérian for real.
  • Ugly Cute: Big mechanical aliens aren't usually most people's idea of "cute", but there's something very appealing about the Mondoshawans, with their chunky, rotund teddy bear-like bodies, spindly necks, and waddling gait. They're sort of like Pooh Bear wearing a spiky mechanical astronaut suit.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The model work that went into future New York City is still impressive over twenty years later, especially considering that practical effects would soon fade in favor of CGI.
  • What an Idiot!: No one thinks to tell the police that they are chasing an incredibly valuable lab subject that needs to be preserved. As a consequence she is nearly killed when a trigger-happy cop duo decides to shoot Korben's car down on the mere suspicion of being a car thief.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Tiny Lister, President of the World? And he doesn't get a scene with Chris Tucker?


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