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New Review: The 5th Wave (2016)

Updated on February 2, 2016

Director: J Blakeson
Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson, Alex Roe, Maika Monroe, Liev Schrieber, Maria Bello, Zackary Arthur, Ron Livingston, Maggie Siff, Tony Revolori, Gabriela Lopez, Bailey Anne Borders, Talitha Bateman

I’m getting so sick of this movie.

Okay, stop me if you’ve heard this one before. There’s a young woman who lives in a post-apocalyptic world. The government is using children and training them to become killers. The young woman fancied a guy at her school before the world went to hell, and afterwards, she meets a guy in the woods whom she can’t stand at first, until she sees him bathing in the lake and, holy crap! Look at those abs! You can bet that a love triangle will soon follow.

Does any of this sound familiar? No, I’m not talking about The Hunger Games, Divergent, or the dozens of other movie adaptations of YA best-sellers that we’ve seen over the years. I’m talking about the dreary The 5th Wave, the latest movie adaptation of a YA best seller (this one was written by Rick Yancey). By this point, the entire genre has an established formula, and it’s one this movie follows to a fault. Everything in this movie is something you’ve seen in dozens of other movies, and done with more depth than this.

The problems begin right at the very beginning. The movie opens with heroine Cassie Sullivan (Chloë Grace Moretz) stopping at an abandoned gas station for food and supplies. She hears a guy in the back calling for help, and with her machine gun at the ready, she walks back there to investigate. She finds an injured man with a gun pointed at her. She tells him to drop the gun, and he does. His other hand is clutching his stomach, and she tells him to show her his other hand. He pulls his hand out slowly, she sees something shiny, and shoots him. As it turns out, he was holding a crucifix. Oops.

I said I won't do the sequel, and I mean it too!!!
I said I won't do the sequel, and I mean it too!!!

For a typical girl who’s never killed anyone before, it’s surprising how quickly she gets over it. I don’t know about you, but if I shot an injured and unarmed man with a machine gun because I mistakenly thought he had a gun in his hand, it would weigh on me. I would not be able to sleep as soundly as this girl does. It’s basically violence without consequence. Even The Hunger Games got this right.

The plot involves an alien race called “The Others” (seriously?!) invading our planet with the intention of taking it over and wiping us out. To accomplish this, they plan to carry out their attack in five different “waves.” The first wave causes a world-wide black out; the second brings on earthquakes and tidal waves; the third a deadly virus which only a select few are immune to; and the fourth is when the aliens themselves come down disguised as humans. The fifth wave is revealed in a very easy to guess twist that gets one questioning the sort of power these aliens have if they need children for….

Well, never mind. Eventually, we do get to see what the aliens look like, and what a disappointment they turn out to be. We basically see them via x-ray glasses, and they look like the face huggers from the original Alien massaging the human brain. They, frankly, look really lame, and as do many of the special-effects we see throughout the movie (the space ships here are especially bad looking).

The plot kicks into gear when Cassie gets separated from her brother Sam (Zackary Arthur) after the military puts every single youth they can find on school buses and drives them to their military base. She goes on a solo mission to get him back, and is shot in the leg by an unseen sniper. It is around here where she meets Evan Walker (Alex Roe), a loner who seems very well trained in Krav Maga (he teaches her how to disarm someone of their hand pistol). They bicker a lot at first, but then she sees him bathing in a lake, and before you know it, they’re kissing and spooning in the back of an abandoned jeep in the woods.

Why, oh why, did this movie get made?!?!
Why, oh why, did this movie get made?!?!

At the other end of this soon-to-be-love-triangle is Ben Parish (Nick Robinson), a high school star at Cassie’s school who’s now a leader of a small militia of child soldiers. These young kids are being used to fight off the last remaining Others that roam the planet (they’re able to tell who they are via special helmets that they wear during combat), or so they’re told. When Liev Schrieber is the man leading the mission, you know there’s something not right going on.

Make no mistake about it, it’s all total nonsense, and it’s nonsense which director J Blakeson takes way too seriously. The movie is so humorless and dull that it affects the movie’s A-list cast. Moretz is one of the best young actresses of her generation, and yet she’s not able to inject much life into the proceedings. The rest of the cast, which includes Maria Bello, Ron Livingston, and even Maika Monroe, are powerless against such banal material, although at least Monroe is given a somewhat interesting character to play (she’s a tough girl rebel fighter, and she’s actually quite good in the role).

Because The 5th Wave is based on the first of a trilogy of books, the ending here leaves the door open for a sequel. It seems highly unlikely that, given the way this movie’s been received, future installments will be made. Darn. I was really wanting to see not the aliens getting defeated, but who Cassie will choose to be her lover once the world has been saved. Some things in life are best left unknown.

Final Grade: * (out of ****)

Rated PG-13 for lots of violence, some strong language, and "teenage partying"

What did you think of this movie? :D

Cast your vote for The 5th Wave (2016)

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