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"The 5th Wave" 2016 Movie Review

Updated on August 11, 2017
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An avid movie watcher who dedicates her free time to writing passionate (mostly) negative reviews, even when she usually enjoys the film.

The 5th Wave Movie Cover:

Cassie and her little brother on the movie cover
Cassie and her little brother on the movie cover

Review: The 5th Wave

Movie: The 5th Wave (2016)

Directed by: J Blakeson

Screenplay by: Susannah Grant, Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner

Based on: "The 5th Wave" by Rick Yancey

Stars: Chloë Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson, Alex Roe

Genre: Action, Adventure, Scifi,

Release date: 22 January 2016

My Rating: 6/10

IMDB: 5.2/10

Verdict: Decent alien invasion film; aimed at teens.


Review (spoiler free):

I hate being one of those people, but I gotta say it: The book wasn't just was ten times better than the garbage that came out of that amazing book. The film being a disappointment is an understatement.

When i first heard that they were making a film of this novel, I was excited. Suuuuuper excited. I remember reading the book and just dying from all the mystery and thrill and this creepy atmosphere.

And knowing that Chloe was at the helm, I wasn't too worried. I'd seen her act in some movies that were dark, and she did amazing.

See, I should have been worried, but not specifically because of Chloe. But because of the directors and producers and writers.

Because what was once a haunting scary film about survival of a teenage girl set in an alien invasion, turns into a silly alien invasion with teen romance at the forefront.

What fool thought that was a good idea.

I want to cry for the lost opportunity.



"After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.
Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave..."

-from book summary

Cassie loses her family one by one as the aliens throw them a form of "wave" (1:darkness, aka technology dead; 2:destruction, aka natural disasters; 3: infection, aka flues, viruses, diseases; 4: invasion, aka body snatching of humans)....and before she knows it, she's alone. She's a survivor - even in the wilderness, knows how to use a weapon, and is good at hiding/not getting caught. After she loses her brother, she deals with a lot of thoughts on being alone and its toll of her mind...until she goes after her brother. On the way, she meets Evan Walker, who might actually be her enemy.

"But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up."

-from book summary

The plot does follow much like the book, but because of time constraints, they did have to change and omit a lot of good stuff from the book - which, while it saddened me, I understood the reasoning.

I was just glad about the shootout scene under the car being in the movie. It was important to the story, her character, and was just straight up badass.

Notice how the whole story is surrounded by her? Well, it's not. It just feels like it is. We get to follow her little brother in the midst of child-armies being born, her schoolmate and almost love interest (Thank god it's never pursued), Ringer (whom I have a love-hate relationship with), and other kids who are important to the plot.

And the mystery? My favorite part of the movie? It doesn't feel as good as in the book. In fact, it just doesn't feel mysterious. And don't tell me it's because I read the book so I know what the mystery is. Because that's bogus. Not only does book 2 and 3 laugh at the solved mysteries in book 1, but any mystery can be good the second or third time around if it's done well. Trust me, I've watched and read enough of the same books/movies to know that if it's done well, I will come back to it.

Like I said, it lost it's atmosphere. This invisible cloud that was clouding everything and making you question everyone. It's gone. Poof, in the movie. And that - my friends - is what the direction should have made sure the movie had.

Tis a shame he didn't put in the most important part of the book into the movie. He could have - and should have - spent less time on the other 3 waves, and should have concentrated on the 4th and 5th wave. The other three could have been all dreams in Cassie's little adventure in the wild alone, to tell us what happened to Earth and her family. School should have not even been the focus of the movie at all. We spent waaaay too much time there. The pacing and concentration on what really mattered was all off.

Book to Movie misses:

As pointed out earlier:

1)The one thing that we need to understand is that in the book, we had multiple third person point of views of various teenagers. Some I didn't like, some I loved. This various points made it obvious that Chloe/Cassie was NOT the main character, but just one of the main characters.

Also - book 3 just proves how unimportant Cassie is to the overall story. She might play a role, but she's just another character among many other characters that can take over her role of importance.

In the movie, that's not the case. We basically follow Cassie the whole time, without feeling that she is not that important to the story.

That's one of the issues I had with this movie.

2)The other thing that really bothered me was the movie took away the creepy atmosphere. In the book, I was holding my breath and dying from all the mystery. In the movie, it just felt like a generic teen movie. It lost the effect that I LOVED from the book. They could have easily marketed this movie to adults and made it much darker. Granted, making it darker means less people watch it, but you make up for the loss by having a good alien invasion film.

Because now, one of my favorite alien invasion books has turned to a generic film that I don't care for.

3) The last thing that really annoyed me was the romance. Granted, there was a certain part in the book that romance took over, but it had something else to it, making it more dramatic, and wasn't as sappy (I didn't even believe that there was any romantic interest in Cassie in the book - it just felt like she was going along with it because she was lonely). I guess, in comparison, the biggest reason why the romance didn't work in the movie was because it was aimed at teens, thereby making it more childish and teensy and romance than I wanted it to be.



Watch it if you love alien movies or body-snatching aliens, natural disasters, or teenagers dealing with said things. Adults won't enjoy it to much because it's aimed towards the younger adults. But nothing is stopping you from watching those aliens destroy humanity.

Not even me.


Want to read more movie reviews in the Alien genre?

>Check out: Arrival, Life, Alien: Covenant

Want to read more movie reviews in the Teen genre?

>Check out The Hunger Games and Twilight!

run equals die; stay equals die
run equals die; stay equals die
hunter being hunted
hunter being hunted

Fave scene: Run = die; Stay = die.

This was my favorite part of the book, and the movie. I won't spoil it, but I'll say this:

"Retreating is not an option. Advancing is not an option. Staying put is not an option. There are no options. Run = die. Stay = die." (291)

If you were surrounded by something out there, that could kill you. And you were injured. What would you do if both options most probably led to death? Run or Stay?

I love that it dealt with these hard decisions, and we saw what reasoning Cassie used to make her decisions.

Scroll down into the Spoiler Section to see what she does.

The 5th Wave Movie Trailer:


Run Or Stay?

run or stay? fight!
run or stay? fight!

Option 3: Fight!

She decides to fight. I mean..if she's going to slowly bleed to death anyways, might as well put up a fight, amirite?

It's a good thing that the Other (alien) decides he can't go through with it. But don't worry, it's not ex machina move. He's been fighting himself on whether he should kill her or not for weeks. He's been tracking her for a long time...but unlike his assignment to kill all humans...he can't seem to kill her.

And while it seems like such a silly move..I promise you, there is a twist as to why he is the way he is - in book two! I's not like it's uncommon to find that some aliens aren't really into the killing game...but this book goes beyond that.

Like I said, it's full of mystery. Every time you think you got something figured out, they throw something else at you. Evan is not a special snowflake. There are some great twists that make the Other's more sinister because of this reason.

Because of this..I wasn't too bothered by Evan showing a softer side and betraying his kind in favor of her.

Ben - classmate, and Cassie near end of movie
Ben - classmate, and Cassie near end of movie

Movie Ending:

There is plenty of other things wrong with this how Cassie doesn't mind being in the dark and possibly her killer is the guy who's protecting her now....but that's beside the point. The reason is really simple: she's weak and can't find him, and it's best not to provoke the guy. And later, well, he basically goes against his nature to save he's really not a threat. He's shown his "fealty" to her, and gone against his own kind.

Can't really argue again'st that kind of loyalty. Still didn't really enjoy this scene, and wished that she'd had the upper hand...but we can't always get what we want.


She gets the job done - finding and saving her brother, and escapes with the other groupies that we'd followed earlier. It ends on a cliffhanger. Just like the book.

It closes the plot of this movie/book, but it basically opens the second story - escaping and realizing what the 5th wave is: children being hunters. Human children being brainwashed into killing humans.

But no fear, that's not even the mystery solved. Book two has a bunch of it's own mysteries that mess with us, and I suspect when the second movie comes out, they will use it.

The thing that I liked was that we ditch Evan. So in book 2, Cassie gets to be away from him and sort out her feelings. So we don't get a victim who falls in love with her capture. Not exactly anyways. I just felt like Cassie was too strong to fall for those tropes. She never felt or acted like a victim, even when she was at a disadvantage.

And that's why I really liked her character. She was strong and not easy to manipulate. We get enough of those silly teenage girls in movies these days, so being in her head was a relief. In the book anyways. The movie isn't that good at portraying Cassie as she was in the book...which is why I wanted the movie to be darker.

It's a shame that it missed a lot of the points about humanity the book was centering on, such as:

-hope as our weapon

-our fight to survive


-the aliens-Others-willingness to allow the strong to remain just to see how well we would fare against them

-the duplicitous nature of the phrase "you're safe now"

-and the nature of trust related to attractiveness to someone(this is especially great in relation to the teen movies now, where the guy is creepy, but because he's hot, he's okay to love and trust - aka, Twilight).

Oh well......I should've known that PG-13 would not fare well for this movie. The book just wasn't meant to be geared towards younger people. It was a brutal, messed up, cruel world, and these teenagers had to adapt and learn some things about humanity and themselves and how far they would go to survive.

That's not this movie. Don't expect much. It's watered down for the simple minded young folk.

Will you watch this movie?

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