Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray debut of acclaimed director Luc Besson’s outrageous sci-fi adventure, an extravagantly styled tale of good against evil set in an unbelievable twenty-third century world.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:
Extras:
Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

92
Details:

Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 1997
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 126 minutes
Genre: Sci-fi/Action/Adventure/Comedy

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1, French Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, Chris Tucker, Ian Holm, Gary Oldman, Brion James, Tommy Lister
Directed by: Luc Besson
Music by: Eric Serra
Written by: Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen
Region Code: A

Release Date: July 11, 2017
"There is no future without it"

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My Take:

I reviewed The Fifth Element’s 2015 Blu-ray release, and have included my comments from that review here. Ratings for film, and Dolby Atmos/TrueHD sound will be the same, as they are identical to that release. New comments, and ratings for the new Ultra HD video and added bonus content are below.

Two hundred and fifty years in the future, life as we know it is threatened by the arrival of Evil. Only Leeloo, the Fifth Element, a supreme being (Milla Jovovich) for good, can stop the Evil from extinguishing life, as it tries to do every five thousand years. Tossed squarely into the middle of it is ex-soldier, current-cab-driver, Corben Dallas (Bruce Willis), who is initially an unwilling participant, but after becoming smitten with the "perfect" Leeloo is all in. Unfortunately, saving the world isn't an easy task. Evil is being assisted by Mr. Zorg (Gary Oldman), a ruthless and profit seeking businessman, aided by a band of alien mercenaries, who seeks to gain from the chaos that Evil will bring. Corbin and Leeloo aren't alone though, with the help of priest Vito Cornelius and celebrity radio host Ruby Rhod the fate of the world is in…capable hands?

My wife thinks I am nuts. Once again, she came downstairs and found me sitting in the theater room watching The Fifth Element with a big smile on my face. She doesn't especially care for it and can't understand my affection for this film. I love it and my enjoyment of it hasn't diminished despite the countless times I have watched it. Having owned it in various incarnations on DVD and now Blu-ray I find Luc Besson's sci-fi, action/adventure/comedy opus to be grandiose, inventive and most importantly thoroughly entertaining. Besson brings his vision to life in intimate detail while offering a superb blend of genre bending flavor that strikes all the right chords.

The production elements are simply marvelous, adding an enriching and complimentary element to the film. I feel similarly about the cast. Bruce Willis was the perfect choice for Corbin Dallas, providing the right combination of tough guy hero and comedic straight man. I could watch Gary Oldman in anything and revel in each scene he is in here. Milla Jovovich, no need to really say anymore. Ian Holm is the film's requisite scene stealer and holds his own with Bruce and Gary. Chris Tucker, you either like him or hate him. I happen to like him and get a kick out of his flamboyant take on Ruby.

I have to imagine that The Fifth Element doesn't often come up during discussions about classic cinematic works. However, it probably scores well among that same group when the topic of guilty pleasure films is on the table. I am most definitely a fan and always enjoy the opportunity to sit down with it. This Ultra HD release offered me the opportunity to sit down with it again. No complaints from me!

Replay Value:
Parental Guide:

The rating is for sci-fi violence, some sexuality and brief nudity.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color:
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 
 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness: 
  • Entertainment factor: 
 

Ultra HD Blu-ray has finally been released and eager enthusiasts are ready and willing to see what it has to offer. For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

The Fifth Element comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 sound that has an average bitrate of 4.8 Mbps.

Sony remastered The Fifth Element from the original 35mm film elements, and I believe Its presentation in Ultra HD is derived from the 4K Digital Intermediate.

It's important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. A film like The Fifth Element has an aesthetic that incorporates film grain and the use of optics that won't result in the type of high gloss, tack-like sharpness of a film shot using digital cameras. This isn't a problem and shouldn't be seen as such.

I have seen The Fifth Element countless times in standard and high definition. Looking at the film's opening sequence, the improvement in depth and delination was immediately noticeable. The increase in resolution isn't always on display, especially in wide angle effects shots, although I believe that this is innate to the photography. In many respects, the image is emboldened with a discernible boost to definition. As the little boy arrives at the temple I could discern the texture of the desert sand both directly behind him and off in the distance. I was struck by the finer details present in the temple, as well as the richness of the twinkling colors in the armor worn by the Guardians, and later, the various hues that appeared on the monitor in the pod reconstruction sequence. In most cases close-ups look terrific, delivering excellent nuance and lifelike rendering of details. The close-up of Leeloo as she sits in the back of Corbin’s cab pleading for help is a great example. Speaking of which, fleshtones are reproduced naturally, with a hint more warmth.

Color reproduction benefits from the wider color gamut, especially blues, which pop nicely. The sequences on Flaston Paradise look great as the variety of colors represented in the backgrounds, characters and effects appeared vivid and pleasing to the eye. High dynamic range added a tangible visual element that enriched both natural and artificial light. Bright highlights, such as explosions and small arms fire, appeared vibrant, while dark highlights were rendered with excellent dimension, especially when coupled with brighter visual elements. As I watched I felt as though I was rediscovering this film all over again. Hands down, this is the best The Fifth Element has looked on home video. Kudos to Sony for giving this the treatment it deserves. Hopefully we can expect more of the same from other classic titles from their extensive catalog.

Like the video presentation the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 surround mix improves upon the previous 5.1 channel mix and sounds superb. This soundtrack runs the gamut between subtle passages of spoken dialogue to dynamically charged sequences that deliver opulent surround sound. Dialogue rendering is excellent. Detail is first rate which brings out the finely articulated nuance of background elements within the mix. Eric Serra's lavish music score is carefully integrated into the sound design and sounds wonderfully detailed, acoustically transparent and three dimensional. The recording's excellent dynamic range accents the soundtrack's varying elements during transitions from subtle to more aggressive active moments which highlights the potency of gunfire, explosions, or musical crescendos. Low frequency effects don't reach subterranean depths but its palpable presence is never in question, providing rewarding and ample bass response resonates with authority. Surround use is prevalent and achieves a high level of envelopment that is appreciably involving as sounds and effects are seamlessly blended to create a stable and detail rich sound field.

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the moderately active variety that made steady use of the platform. Its use of audio objects placed above is a mix atmospherics and discrete effects. This is done to very good effect and creates a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. During the first act there are several instances where the mix generates a noticeable improvement in dimension and depth of field. Moments that I made note of were, the arrival of the Guardian's ship at the pyramid, the opening of the stone walls, The arrival of the evil orb (specifically when it solidifies sending an electric pulse through the room) and finally the attempts to destroy it with the missile bursts.

Audio object placement from both above and in the ear listening plane are put to effective use. The exterior building ledge sequence before Leeloo makes her famous slow motion leap sounds great as sounds/effects move in and around the room as dictated by what you see onscreen. While this scene sounds very good in the standard mix it's taken to another level in the Amos mix. This continues with the cab chase sequence that follows. The prep for takeoff scene that features the Reggae music bristles with enveloping ambience and discretely placed effects. During the scene where Zorg speaks to Mr. Shadow on the telephone I compared the Atmos and standard soundtracks. The Atmos mix sounds amazing, placing his growling voice in a floating three dimensional acoustic space while keeping Zorg's responses out in front. The difference between the two wasn't subtle in this case as the standard version kept Mr. Shadow's voice more in the rear soundstage.

Over the course of the film there are various environmental sounds, off camera cues and percussive music cues that are mixed into the sound field. Some are more pronounced than others but the overall effect is excellent. In terms of the overall experience I would have to wholeheartedly say that the Dolby Atmos mix noticeably enhances the enjoyment of this very familiar soundtrack. I had a ball with it.

Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: The Fifth Element Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • NEW The Director’s Notes: Luc Besson Looks Back
    Disc 2: The Fifth Element Blu-ray
  • The Visual Element
  • The Digital Element
  • The Star Element
  • The Alien Element
  • The Fashion Element
  • The Diva
  • Imagining The Fifth Element
  • The Elements of Style
  • Digital HD Copy
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The Fifth Element needs no introduction among home theater enthusiasts and for years has been among the go to discs for its varietal audio/video elements as well as its entertaining thematic content. This 20th Anniversary release represents another example of Sony’s commitment to releasing quality high definition presentations of their catalog titles. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony in a fan friendly Ultra HD Combo Pack that boasts excellent Ultra HD video quality, complimentary Dolby Atmos immersive sound and a comprehensive set of bonus supplements that include new and legacy content that enhances the enjoyment of this sci-fi action classic. As a fan, I thrilled to own this latest release of The Fifth Element. For those of you out there that enjoy it, and, are set up for Ultra HD Blu-ray/immersive sound this offering is a must have for your video library.
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Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews


Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from  Spectracal )
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS SB-13 Ultra (Piano Gloss finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package