The Fifth Element: Collector's Edition (1997)

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Released 7-Feb-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Dolby Digital Trailer
Informational Subtitles-Fact Track (English And Spanish)
Featurette-The Visual Element
Featurette-The Digital Element
Featurette-The Star Element
Featurette-The Alien Element
Featurette-The Fashion Element
Featurette-The Diva
Gallery-Poster
Trailer-13 Going On 30 (Suddenly 30), Big Fish, Mona Lisa Smile
Outtakes
More…-Various test footage
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 120:44
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (59:19)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Luc Besson
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Bruce Willis
Gary Oldman
Ian Holm
Milla Jovovich
Chris Tucker
Luke Perry
Brion James
Tom 'Tiny' Lister Jr.
Lee Evans
Charlie Creed-Miles
Tricky
John Neville
John Bluthal
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $29.95 Music Eric Serra


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Spanish
Hindi
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Information
Spanish Information
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, The Big M
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    What can you say about a film like this that has not already been written? Even on this site alone there are two previous reviews of this film's previous releases on DVD in Region 4. For those who wish to look, those reviews can be found here for the original release and here for the Superbit version. DVD has come a long way since the original disc was released and reviewed way back in 1998 and at the time the release was considered to be the high water mark of DVDs in this Region. For its day, it was certainly stunning. Then in 2003 along came the Superbit version which blew the original one away but also included some minor problems such as not having a Dolby Digital 5.1 track in English and having some hard coded French subtitles. Additionally, in keeping with the Superbit idea, it had no extras whatsoever. The original R4 had some extras but frankly they were crap. So let's get to the point of all this - what does this one have that the previous ones did not? The answer is...

    The Fifth Element is a great example of art and entertainment happily coalescing. I won't bore you with a plot summary as I am sure you know it already. If you want one the original review has an excellent and succinct one - just follow the link above. I am also not going to write a long-winded dissertation on why this film is so good. Let me just say that it's a whole lot of fun and leave it at that. Instead, I will just note some of the factors and elements of the film which make me enjoy it every time I watch it.

    This film is simply great entertainment.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is excellent, although based on reviews not quite as good as the original Superbit release. Having said that it is still much, much better than the original release. Unfortunately, I do not have access to a copy of the original Superbit release in Region 4 and my comments are based on a comparison to TonyR's review (link above) and the comparison done on DVDBeaver. I do have a copy of the original Region 4 release and have done some direct comparisons to that. For those interested, the Superbit total file size for the main feature was 7,443,478,528 bytes, and this one is 7,248,474,112 bytes included the added fact track.

    The feature is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio. No change here.

    The picture was extremely clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. The shadow detail was excellent. This would seem to be on a par with the Superbit version but I cannot say so categorically. It is a huge improvement over the original Region 4 release which had some quite bad macro-blocking on some of the backgrounds. One thing I did notice was some light grain in some footage which was not noted previously. It was especially noticeable during the credits on the earth.

    The colour was also excellent and based upon the screen shots on DVDBeaver has a similar colour palette to the original Superbit rather than the much maligned colour on the previous Region 2 special edition.

    Artefacts is where this version differs significantly from the Superbit version. This version seems to have come from a dirtier print of the film as it has many more film artefacts than those noted in the Superbit review. Film artefacts that I noticed include a black mark near the beginning of the name in the credits at 1:54, a white splodge at 1:56, a number of black specks in the sky between 2:30 and 2:35 and more at 83:50 and 116:25. I also noticed some thin vertical white lines at 3:56 and 37:43. In the grand scheme of things these are certainly not major. There was also some mild aliasing such as on the light at 24:00 and Zorg's vest at 46:30 and 49:18. Again this is very mild and I note it here due to the reference nature of this film in the world of DVD.

    There are subtitles in English, Spanish & Hindi. The English subtitles were clear and easy to read and slightly summarised form the spoken word. This is a significant improvement over the Superbit version which did not offer English subtitles at all.

    The layer change occurs at 59:19 which is a slightly different spot to the Superbit version. It is still virtually invisible.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is awesome and absolutely reference quality.

    This DVD contains three audio options, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s, an English DTS 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 768 Kb/s and a Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s. I have been told that the cover does not list the DTS track, although it is definately there! To those of the technically minded brigade, the DTS track is still not at the full bit rate which is available on the Region 2 special edition. I listened to the entire DTS track and sampled the Dolby Digital 5.1 track and found them to be very similar, although to my mind the DTS track does have a small advantage in terms of dynamics. Either track is fantastic. This soundtrack explodes from all of your speakers, keeping up a relentless barrage of directional effects, music and atmosphere from start to finish.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync.

    The score of this film by Eric Serra is fantastic and adds so much to this film even in less impressive passages visually, such as the scenes in Korben's apartment.

    The surround speakers are in full use from the beginning of the film to the very end. Some scenes really stood out from a sound design perspective such as the scene at 22:00, 35:00 and 50:30. All of these are awesome and show off the true power of surround sound.

     The subwoofer was also used constantly for the rumbling of spaceships, explosions and the various gunfights. The scenes mentioned above also give your subwoofer a workover.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Most of the extras are on a second disc with only the fact track on Disc 1. The extras are very good , however, Luc Besson is notable by his absence. Also, for those who like them there is no commentary, only a text fact track. A lot of the featurettes include a voiceover by a fairly annoying American narrator. Luckily, we hear more from other people so it is not too bad.

Menu

    The menu includes an intro, stills and is easy to use, providing the ability to select scenes, languages and subtitles. Significantly better than the original R4 menus.

Fact Track

    One of the best fact tracks I have seen. It gives all sorts of interesting trivia about the cast, project development, design, back story, production and shooting as well as pointing out goofs. Fans of the film will find it very interesting.

The Visual Element - Featurette (18:25)

    A very interesting featurette about the two comic book authors, Mezieres & Moebius, whose work was an influence on Luc Besson's thinking about design. He decided to employ them to do the production design for the film. This featurette includes interviews with both of them about the design process. Presented 16x9 enhanced. Newly made in 2004.

The Visual Element - Tests

    This section includes various pieces of test footage for different set design usually with a crew member walking through the set. These were used to decide if the completed design was acceptable. They are presented non 16x9 enhanced. The following sections are included:

The Digital Element (9:48)

    A featurette covering the work done on the film by Digital Domain. Includes interviews with the Visual Effects Supervisor, Mark Stetson, and other crew members. Covers how the various stunts were shot including Leeloo's jump and the use of miniatures for New York. Good stuff.

The Star Element - Bruce Willis (4:19)

    An interview with Bruce Willis probably from closer to the time the movie was shot than now. He discusses acting, his role choices and working with Luc Besson. Not bad but no major insights either. Presented non 16x9 enhanced.

The Star Element - Milla Jovovich (12:48)

    A more contemporary interview with Milla Jovovich discussing the audition process, screen tests, working with the director, rehearsals, learning Leeloo's language, problems with the bright Orange hair, costumes, how she coped with the action sequences and how the role affected her career. Quite interesting.

The Star Element - Milla Jovovich - Extras

    This includes her complete screen test footage and contains the following sections. Fans of the actress will love this.

The Star Element - Chris Tucker (4:17)

    Short interview probably done at a similar time to Bruce Willis'. He discusses the script and his character and thinks he is very amusing indeed. He is not. Presented non-16x9 enhanced.

The Alien Element - Mondoshawans - Featurette (8:13)

    An interesting featurette about how these creatures were designed and built. If you don't recall, these are the good guys. Also covers the strange requirements for the actors who would work inside them. Includes interviews with Nick Dudman, the Creature Effects Supervisor and others. Presented 16x9 enhanced.

The Alien Element - Mondoshawans - Extras

    Another set of test films and outtakes of the Mondoshawans in action. Presented non 16x9 enhanced. The sections are

The Alien Element - Mangalores - Featurette (9:47)

    A featurette on the design and build for the bad guys. Again includes interviews with Nick Dudman, the Creature Effects Supervisor and others. Interesting Stuff.

The Alien Element - Mangalores - Extras

    A smaller set of test films and outtakes including

The Alien Element - Picasso - Featurette (4:17)

    A featurette on the design and construction of Zorg's strange little pet, Picasso. Covers the animatronics, silicon skin and how it interacted with Gary Oldman. Interesting.

The Alien Element - Strikers - Featurette (3:04)

    A featurette on a creature which did not make the final cut of the film. These were the garbage workers who were on strike causing the large pile of garbage at the airport. Fascinating how much work went into something which got dropped.

The Alien Element - Strikers - Extras

    Another set of test films and outtakes, this time of the Strikers in action. Presented non 16x9 enhanced. The sections are

The Fashion Element - Featurette (7:47)

    An interview with Jean-Paul Gaultier about his designs for the film. Seems to have been recorded at the same time as the Bruce Willis interview. He is quite forthright and covers how he found working for someone else, costumes budgets in films and his design process. Includes some of his preliminary sketches. Definitely of interest.

The Fashion Element - Extras

    Another set of test films , this time for the various costumes to check how they look moving around on a real person. Presented non 16x9 enhanced. The sections are

The Diva - Featurette (16:16)

    The first ever interview (supposedly) with the actress who played the Diva, Maiwenn. At the time she was cast she was Luc Besson's fiancé and was initially reluctant to work with him. She covers how she agreed to do it after the person first cast pulled out, how she learnt to sing (although the voice is not her), the challenges of the makeup and costume. She also reveals that she didn't like the way her performance was edited. This featurette includes her entire performance footage including the stuff which was going on when the film cut to the scene of Leeloo fighting the Mangalores. Good stuff. Presented 16x9 enhanced.

The Diva - Extras

    Another set of test films and outtakes, this time of The Diva. Presented non 16x9 enhanced. The sections are

Poster Gallery

    Gallery of approximately 30 international posters for the film.

Trailers

    No trailers are included for the film itself. These ones are for 13 Going on 30, Big Fish & Mona Lisa Smile.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The new Region 4 version is virtually exactly the same as the new Region 1 release, except for NTSC/PAL differences. The only real alternative to these is the recent Region 2 Pathe Special Edition. Compared to this Region 2 set (details thanks to DVDcompare.net), the new Region 4 set misses out on;

    The Region 2 Special Edition version of this disc misses out on;

    On this basis there is no clear winner, although personally I would go for the new Region 4 release for the best all round package. If you want the best ever video transfer, the Superbit version would seem to be the go. If you want the best ever audio transfer and some different extras including a commentary, the Region 2 SE would seem to be the go.

Summary

    A fantastic science fiction film which is a whole lot of fun, given its third incarnation in Region 4.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is awesome.

    The set has a really good selection of extras, perhaps only lacking a commentary or something focused on the director.

There are Official Distributor Comments available for this review.
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Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Can you please just confirm... - REPLY POSTED
DTS tracks - Pendergast (Why not take a look at my bio, you might think it stinks.) REPLY POSTED
Why DTS is half bitrate -
Why DTS is half bitrate - Blu Ray &HD DVD posting reply Daria Nicolodi's Fringe - Pendergast (Why not take a look at my bio, you might think it stinks.) REPLY POSTED
Good Review! - Pendergast (Why not take a look at my bio, you might think it stinks.)
burnt in english subtitles - REPLY POSTED
DTS + Picture quality -
DTS + Picture quality - Pendergast (Why not take a look at my bio, you might think it stinks.)
Special Editions-Region 4 or Region 2 -