The Fifth Element: Superbit
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Mila Jovovich, Chris Tucker, Ian Holm
Boasting a $90 million budget, "The Fifth Element" is the most ambitious French movie production to date. The money was well spent. What starts out feeling like a remake of "The Mummy" quickly turns out to be one of the most colorful and unique science fiction-action-comedy epics of recent years. It’s a bubbling melting pot of different styles, ideas, visions and quotes, delivering a sensationally entertaining experience. In Egypt of 1914, an archeologist discovers a cosmic secret, but before he can further uncover it, aliens appear, taking the find with them. The discovery is the fifth element secretly placed there to help protect mankind from the ultimate Evil, a force that returns to Earth every 5000 years. When the time comes in a bare few centuries they will return the element to save the world… or so they say.
We know people like the lovable loser Korben. History shows us the close resemblance of the villain Zorg (Gary Oldman) to Hitler, and even the movie’s postmodern radio-artist Ruby strikes us somehow familiar. If "The Fifth Element" sometimes quotes and pulls from other movies, it is sheerly for fun’s sake, childishly toying with all too familiar genre stereotypes.
Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment’s "Superbit" releases are designed to use the entire storage space a DVD offers to improve the video and audio quality of the feature film. Since these releases do not contain any extras and utilize only minimal menus, no space is given up for extraneous content, thus allowing the producers to increase the bitrates for both, the video and audio stream.
Scenes like the cityscape with countless cars making up the traffic in varying layers of depth, are absolutely amazing in their clarity, revealing details that simply were not present before. I found it extremely surprising, and awe-inspiring, just how this "Superbit" version is able to improve on one of the best DVD presentations in the market. Without edge-enhancement or other artifacts, this is the best, sharpest and most detailed video image I have ever seen on any TV set!
Next stop, the audio department. Well, what can I say? Just when you thought you heard it all, there comes "The Fifth Element" in <$DTS,DTS>. The <$DD,Dolby Digital> audio track that was part of the previous release always stood out in its transparency and the engaging use of surrounds without ever collapsing the sound field – and that despite the fact that it only employed a 384 Kbps audio bitrate. The new "Superbit" version now improves on this meticulous sonic imaging by upping the bitrate to the Dolby Digital maximum of 448 kbps and the result is a soundfield that appears even more aggressive. Ultimately however, it is the new DTS track that will blow you away. At a time when the quality improvements of DTS tracks over Dolby Digital tracks seemed to become blurred, "The Fifth Element" enters the field and reminds us of the incredible clarity that DTS tracks can offer. Bombastic is the word that comes to mind. With a rock solid bass extension, the DTS track goes strong well beyond 25Hz and makes sure your subwoofer gets a good workout. The surrounds are wildly aggressive and manage to create an image that is utterly enveloping, allowing us to pinpoint sounds in space almost to the inch of their spatial location. Ambient effects are beautifully and hauntingly floating in the air while Eric Serra’s mesmerizing soundtrack bombards the listener from all directions at times. This is an audio presentation well worthy the movie, and one DTS track you can’t afford to miss!