The Fifth Element appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie mostly looked good.
Sharpness appeared pretty solid throughout the film. A little softness crept into a few wide shots, but those instance stayed minor. I noticed no jagged edges or moiré effects, but some mild edge haloes cropped up at times. Print flaws failed to materialize.
Colors offered a highlight of Element. The movie featured a wonderfully broad and varied palette, and the hues consistently seemed vibrant and lively. Black levels appeared to be deep and rich, and shadow detail seemed clear with appropriate density; low-light situations demonstrated good definition. Overall, the image seemed fine, but the occasional softness and haloes left it as a “B”.
As befits a big action/sci-fi flick such as this, the Dolby Atmos soundfield provided an extremely active and engaging setting. Downmixed to Dolby TrueHD 7.1 on my non-Atmos system, all the channels received a solid workout, but the track never seemed to offer any gratuitous audio; the various elements existed to create a vivid and engrossing whole. Music showed fine stereo separation across the front speakers and also cropped up with good support from the rear.
Effects really made the mix work, however. All of these elements came from appropriate locations in the soundfield, and they blended together nicely. Sounds moved cleanly across speakers as they created a believable environment.
This included the surrounds, which actively supported the forward spectrum. A tremendous amount of unique audio came from the rears, and it all meshed together neatly. Overall, this was a well-made soundfield that offered a fine listening experience.
Audio quality seemed to be strong. Although much of the dialogue needed to be looped, it sounded natural and distinct. The score seemed to be well reproduced, as the mix made it sound clear and vibrant at all times. Bass response appeared very solid across the board.
Not only did the music sound rich and full, but also the effects displayed excellent low-end when appropriate. Some of this movie will really shake the walls, and the bass always remained tight and concise. Effects were clear and tight as well. This became a strong soundtrack.
The set’s extras launch with a fact track. This works in the standard subtitle commentary manner. Text runs at the bottom of the screen that covers topics like the cast, sets, production elements and notes from the shoot.
In the category of “annoying punctuation”, the track uses way too many exclamation points. It also suffers from a lot of dead spots. A similar piece that accompanies the Leon Blu-ray runs text without many pauses, but unfortunately the same can’t be said for Element. We get quite a few nice tidbits here, but it’s not as strong as its mate.
Next up is an area called The Visual Element. It starts with a featurette that goes for 18 minutes, 25 seconds. This offers movie clips, behind the scenes snippets, and interviews. We hear from designers Jean Claude Mezieres, Jean “Moebius” Giraud, and Patrice Garcia.
The program looks at the history behind its two designers and their recruitment for the movie, visual influences and concepts, the film’s development, and the look of some specific pieces. I like the parts that look at Mezieres and Giraud, as those aspects give us a nice feel for the background that influenced the movie. The other bits expand on various topics as well and help make this featurette useful.
In addition, “The Visual Element” presents a series of tests. These cover “Pyramid” (41 seconds), “Cornelius’ Apartment” (0:30), “Zorg’s Office” (0:28), “Airport” (2:19), “Fhloston Lobby” (1:20), “Fhloston Corridor” (0:17), and “Fhloston Bedroom” (0:34). These silent clips shoot the sets in basic ways to give us a look at them.
Under The Digital Element, we locate a nine-minute, 48-second featurette. It presents notes from visual effects supervisor Mark Stetson, supervising director of photography for visual effects Bill Neil, visual effects art director Ira Gilford, lead digital compositing supervisor Jon Egstad and miniature effects supervisor Niels Nielsen.
This program focuses mainly on the ways they used computer effects, miniatures and other techniques to create a futuristic New York. It provides a terrific set of behind the scenes footage to illustrate the concepts and it gives us a great look at how they executed the scenes.
As we head to The Star Element, we get three separate featurettes, each one dedicated to an actor. These include “Bruce Willis” (four minutes, 18 seconds), “Milla Jovovich” (12:47), and “Chris Tucker” (4:17). These present remarks from Willis, Jovovich, and Tucker, each of whom acts as the only participant in the logical spot.
The Tucker and Willis featurettes don’t offer much more than the standard promotional superficiality, though Tucker gives us a decent glimpse of his inspirations. However, Jovovich’s piece gets into things with greater depth. She covers her casting, developing the character, and various challenges. It’s a good discussion.
The “Jovovich” section also includes some “Extras”. These present four different screen tests that run for a total of 12 minutes, one second. The silent clips show various visual possibilities for Leeloo’s look and are intriguing to see.
Split into four subdomains, The Alien Element covers various species. “Monoshawans” gives us an eight-minute, 13-second featurette with comments from creature effects supervisor Nick Dudman, key animatronic model designer Monique Brown, and key animatronic model designer Chris Barton. The show covers the challenges created by the Mondoshawans and delves into their development and construction. It goes through the subjects in a concise manner that provides a tight look at the appropriate aspects of the production.
”Mondoshawans” also includes three screen tests plus two “Battle Outtakes” that go three minutes, 23 seconds in all. All five add up to give us some nice glimpses of the development of these aliens.
“Mangalores” tosses out three components. The featurette runs nine minutes, 47 seconds as it includes info from Dudman, Barton, and senior animatronic model designer Gary Pollard. The subjects found here are similar to those in the “Mondoshawans” piece, as we look at designing and creating the beings. It works just as well and is quite illuminating.
In addition, “Mangalores” presents a 47-second “Head Test” and a one-minute, 23-second “Battle Outtake”. The “Test” just shows uninhabited fake heads and is pretty dull. As for the “Outtake”, it offers a look at the Mangalores in their ship and also doesn’t add much.
A four-minute, 16-second featurette discusses “Picasso”, Zorg’s pet. It presents statements from Dudman and Barton. It’s more of the same as the other featurettes, which makes it another tight and fun discussion.
Finally, “Alien Element” ends with the components of “Strikers”. A three-minute, four-second featurette starts this area with notes from Dudman and Barton. If you don’t remember the “Strikers” from the movie, that’s because they never appeared; they were cut from the final flick. We learn about them and their design in this good little show.
Four “Striker Tests” finish the domain. They run a total of one minute, 32 seconds. These offer interesting views of prototype puppets.
When we head to The Fashion Element, we find another featurette. This one fills seven minutes, 46 seconds. We hear from costume designer Jean-Paul Gaultier as he discusses his work on the film. Gaultier goes into general issues related to the topic and offers specifics about his designs for various characters. He provides solid details and makes this a lively little piece.
This section also tosses out some tests. We get one for Korben Dallas (0:59) and three for Leeloo (four minutes, 17 seconds total). These offer what you’d expect: shots of the actors in various outfits. All come from various sets, so they must have been shot during production.
Next comes The Diva, which opens with a 16-minute, 15-second featurette. It includes remarks from actor Maiwenn as she chats about her casting, preparation for the role, dealing with the extensive makeup, shooting the flick, and her disappointment with the way her scene was edited.
We also get to see the entire Diva performance in a version without final effects; we watch her sing in front of a greenscreen. Maiwenn’s notes offer nice insights, and the complete Diva sequence makes this featurette even more memorable.
More about the Diva comes from a four-minute, 34-second “make-up test”. Another silent piece, this one puts actress Maiwennin in different poses to work out the costume. Two “studio outtakes” go for a total of one minute, 53 seconds, and show the Diva on the opera house stage with a green screen backing. Finally, an “Opera House Outtake” lasts one-minute, 35 seconds and shows a portion of her performance entirely from a rear angle.
During the five-minute, 14-second Imagining The Fifth Element, we hear from Stetson, Mezieres, Dudman, digital effects supervisor Karen E. Goulekas, production designer Sarah Bradshaw, and special effects coordinator Neil Corbould. This one looks at effects, with an emphasis on practical elements. It brings us a short but engaging examination.
Lastly, The Elements of Style fills five minutes, 13 seconds with notes from Gaultier, Jovovich, Willis, Tucker and actor Gary Oldman. We get some notes about costumes in this short but enjoyable enough program.
After 18 years and a bunch of screenings, I continue to find The Fifth Element to provide a funny, exciting and lively experience. The movie packed in more inventiveness than 10 standard flicks combined, and it did so with flair, panache, and class. The Blu-ray delivers mostly good picture along with excellent audio and an informative set of supplements. I think visuals could be stronger, but this still offers a pretty pleasing rendition of a quality film.
To rate this film, visit the Superbit review of THE FIFTH ELEMENT