When ‘The Fifth Element’ screened as the opening film at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, it left the critics with polarized reviews. It was billed both as one of the best and worst movies in the festival. Nevertheless, sci-fi action flick went on to become a huge success and a milestone in the career of the ace French filmmaker Luc Besson. Set in 1914, the plot centers on an ancient Egyptian temple. An alien race known as the Mondoshawans has arrived to collect a weapon from World War I containing the four elements of earth, water, air, fire and sarcophagus that contain a fifth element which has the combined power of the other four. It happens to be the only element capable of stopping a cosmic evil force that appears once in every 5000 years to cause destruction.
Meanwhile, far away in the year 2263, the Evil force has returned and threatens to destroy Earth. The Mondoshawans come to save the human race, but they are destroyed by the Evil except a severed hand from the sarcophagus. Scientists use the left-over hand to develop a humanoid in the form of a woman named Leeloo, played by Milla Jovovich. It is through her that the Fifth element is given a form and shape, Now it is up to Leeloo, who becomes the Fifth Element, Korben Dallas, a former special forces major turned cab driver, played by Bruce Willis and Vito Cornelius, the Mondoshawans’ contact on Earth, played by Ian Holm to stop the Evil force. The Earthly antagonist in the film is Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg played by Gary Oldman, who has been tasked by the Evil force to retrieve the element stones.
Luc Besson started writing the screenplay when he was a teenager! Originally he had planned to shoot the film in France but instead was shot in London and Mauritania owing to more suitable facilities that the latter could provide. ‘The Fifth Element’ was the most expensive European flick ever made at the time of its release. I have drawn up a list of some films that in essence come close to the narrative of ‘The Fifth Element’. They do not necessarily have a similar storyline but contain some elements of the path-breaking. So, without further ado, here is the list of best movies similar to ‘The Fifth Element’ that are our recommendations. You can watch several of these movies like ‘The Fifth Element’ on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
8. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)
After a gap of three decades, Luc Besson made ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,’ the most expensive European and independent film ever made, in 2017. Based on the French science fiction comics series ‘Valerian and Laureline,’ the film is set in the 28th century where Valerian, played by Dane DeHaan and Laureline, portrayed by Cara Delevingne, assemble an elite team of special operatives. The mission is to maintain law and order and harmony throughout the human territories on behalf of the United Human Federation.
The Minister of Defense of the United Human Federation sends them to the ever-expanding metropolis called the Alpha, the City of a Thousand Planets, where species from all over the universe have come together and live to share knowledge, intelligence and culture with one another. The peace of Alpha is threatened by the appearance of a mysterious dark force at the center of the city. It is up to the two lovers and comrade in arms Major Valerian and Sergeant Laureline to defend not only the city of Alpha but also the fate of the Universe from the marauding dark force. The film also stars Clive Owen, Ethan Hawke, and Rihanna.
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7. Equilibrium (2002)
Set in 2072, the movie ‘Equilibrium’ explores the totalitarian city-state called Libria and its inhabitants. The futuristic city was established after World War III and all objects stimulating emotional responses are banned for a reason. People of Libria have to take daily injections to keep their emotions in check. Those who violate the rules will be billed as “Sense Offenders” and are put down. Directed by Kurt Wimmer, ‘Equilibrium’ stars Christian Bale in the lead role of John Preston, a law enforcement officer for the Tetragrammation Council that governs Libria.
One day Preston misses his dose of Prozium before going for a mission and begins feeling emotions uncharacteristic to him. Slowly, Preston starts questioning his actions as a law enforcement officer but hides it from his superiors. He breaks away from his role of law enforcement officer to become a fugitive and joins a rebel group called the “Underground” who plots overthrow the Tetragrammation Council. Preston uses his special combat skills as an ex-cop to help the cause of the covert organization. The film also stars Emily Watson, Taye Diggs, and Sean Bean as important characters.
6. Jupiter Ascending (2015)
Directed by the Wachowski sisters, Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski, who came to the fore with the breakout flick ‘The Matrix,’ the 2015 movie ‘Jupiter Ascending’ is space opera and action flick at the same time. The plot is based on the origin story of the universe that it was actually created by royal alien families for the sole purpose of harvesting a youth serum from the organisms to provide nutrition to the elites of alien races in other planets. Like several other unknown lifeforms and civilizations, the human race on Earth are also oblivious to this fact. The most powerful dynasty among these superior alien race is the House of Abrasax.
After the matriarch of the dynasty passes away her three children, Balem, played by Eddie Redmayne, Titus, played by Douglas Booth and their sister, Kalique, played by Tuppence Middleton, start fighting among themselves to become the heir to the empty throne. On the other hand, a woman named Jupiter Jones, portrayed by Mila Kunis, a cleaning maid on Earth, finds herself in the face of destiny.
From her birth, she was destined for greater things, and she dreams of reaching for the stars whilst living a frustrated and humdrum life. By a gift of fate, she is identified as the true heir to the murdered alien matriarch, which makes her a target for the Abrasax siblings. This is when genetically engineered, ex-military hunter Caine Wise, played by Channing Tatum, comes to her aid and takes her to outer space. So begins the extraordinary adventures of Jupiter. The film received mixed reviews from fans and critics but was held in high opinion for breaking away from gender stereotypes of the genre.
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5. Gattaca (1997)
‘Gattaca’ is set in the future where human beings are discriminated on the basis of genes and not religion. Those babies born outside the eugenics program are labelled as “in-valids,” while those with high genes are marked as “valids”. And accordingly, better jobs are provided to the latter ones, while the “in-valids” are allocated low-status jobs. Vincent Freeman, played by Ethan Hawke, is one of those few kids born outside the genetics program and suffers low life expectancy due to disordered genetic profiling. Yet he dreams of going for space travel which is next to impossible in his case. He works as an office cleaner in several places including Gattaca Corporations, an aerospace firm.
One day. Vincent gets his chance to play the life of a valid by using hair, skin, blood and urine samples from a donor, Jerome Eugene Morrow, played by Jude Law, who was a swimming star but was allegedly paralyzed by a car accident. He successfully fools Gattaca Corporation and is selected as the navigator for one of its missions to Saturn’s moon, Titan. Working in the Corporation Vincent meets Irene, played by Uma Thurman and they fall in love. Trouble brews when a week before the expedition, the body of one of the mission administrators is discovered. Vincent becomes the main suspect and he also learns that Jerome’s paralysis is self-afflicted as he had thrown himself in front of a car. The film was directed by Andrew Niccol and stars Loren Dean, Ernest Borgnine, Gore Vidal, and Alan Arkin in supporting roles.
4. Total Recall (2012)
The dystopian sci-fi action flick ‘Total Recall’, directed by Len Wiseman, is based on the 1990 film of the same name. While the original flick set on Mars, the 2012 movie unfolds on Earth. The film is based on a short story titled “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick. ‘Total Recall’ features Colin Farrell as the protagonist alongside Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bokeem Woodbine, John Cho, and Bill Nighy.
A ghastly nuclear war in the 21st century has left behind only two nations, the United Federation of Britain and the Colony intact. Douglas Quaid, a factory worker with a happy family and a stable job, is tempted by a virtual vacation being offered by a company called Recall. The offer includes a virtual adventure of spying through memory implants memories while the adventurer participant is tied to a chair.
But the procedure goes awry and Quaid finds himself on the run after being labelled as a spy. He comes across Melina, a rebel soldier, and joins forces with her in in quest to find Matthias, the leader of the resistance movement. The antagonist is Chancellor Cohaagen, who wants to control the whole world. Through his fight against Cohaagen, Quaid starts discovering his hidden identity and starts unraveling the fact that his memory might have been altered well before he sat in the chair in Recall.
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3. Stargate (1994)
‘Stargate’ centers on expedition that leads to the discovery of a strange device in Egypt of 1928. Whereas, Dr. Daniel Jackson, played by James Spader, a forgotten linguist living in the present, is summoned by a mysterious woman to decipher an ancient hieroglyph in a military facility. Dr. Jackson soon discovers that the ancient device, called the “Stargate”, has the ability to open a portal to another planet and was designed by an advanced civilization. A military team is set up under the leadership of Colonel Jonathan “Jack” O’Neil, played by Kurt Russell, to teleport to the other planet and discover the hidden secrets there.
Dr. Jackson is asked to join the team and is teleported to the mysterious planet. Soon, the team finds themselves in the midst of a thriving civilization that resembles ancient Egypt. The alien people are under the reign of a ruler who calls himself the Sun God, Ra, played by Jaye Davidson. Dr. Jackson, O’Neil and their soldiers are captured by Ra, who discovers that O’Neil brought a nuclear weapon with him so that they could destroy any potential hostile alien race inhabiting the new planet. Ra threatens to launch the weapon on Earth by sending it back through the portal. It is up to Dr. Jackson and O’Neil to save their heads as well as Earth.
2. Prometheus (2012)
‘Prometheus’ follows two archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw, portrayed by Noomi Rapace, and Charlie Holloway who stumble upon a star map in Scotland that resembles some of the maps from ancient civilizations. Set in the near future, the movie depicts the archaeologists attempts to decipher a probable invitation from human race’s front-runners called the “Engineers.”.
An expedition is sent out on a star ship called “Prometheus” to a distant world in search of the origins of humanity. The crew land on the planet in the year 2093. Among the crew members in an android called David, played by Michael Fassbender, who is tasked with the maintenance of the ship. But when he starts developing ego of his own, both the crew and the mission face a deadly threat of wiping out from the new world. ‘Prometheus’ is directed by Ridley Scott and also stars, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green and Charlize Theron.
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1. Minority Report (2002)
Directed by Steven Spielberg, ‘Minority Report’ has to be top of the list, solely because the narrative is a hybrid of several genres such as neo-noir, science fiction, action thriller, and whodunit while dealing with social issues and raising questions on the public perception of crime and criminals. Set in 2054, in Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia, a specialized police force named PreCrime apprehends criminals before they commit crimes. Tom Cruise stars as the Chief of PreCrime John Anderton, who is accused of a crime he never committed and tagged as a fugitive in the process. Collin Farrell stars as Department of Justice Agent Danny Witwer while the senior Precog Agatha is played by Samantha Morton.
The veteran Max von Sydow plays the role of Anderton’s senior Lamar Burgess. When asked about the movie, Spielberg once said, “fifty percent character and fifty percent very complicated storytelling with layers and layers of murder mystery and plot.”
Loosely based on Philip K. Dick’s short story of the same name, ‘Minority Report’ is an introspection of whether anyone can be labelled a criminal unless and until that person commits a crime. It also deals with the idea that every human being is capable of committing a crime and that tendency cannot be pre-determined. The film also questions the type of governance that the world may be moving towards in the future.
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