The 5th Wave (2016)

5thwave_2016_poster
The 5th Wave (2016)
  • Time: 112 min
  • Genre: Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
  • Director: J Blakeson
  • Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Alex Roe, Nick Robinson, Matthew Zuk

Storyline:

Four waves of increasingly deadly attacks have left most of Earth in ruin. Against a backdrop of fear and distrust, Cassie is on the run, desperately trying to save her younger brother. As she prepares for the inevitable and lethal fifth wave, Cassie teams up with a young man who may become her final hope – if she can only trust him.

3 reviews

  • Chloe Grace Moretz is all over the place these days. In fact, she’s about to show up in four movies via the year 2016. Her latest release is The 5th Wave and it regretfully got shuffled into the month of January (never a good sign). Critics everywhere have been comparing it to Twilight and/or The Hunger Games flicks. Having never seen anything from those sets of franchises, I couldn’t make a supposed juxtaposition. I as a critic, got a Maze Runner/Day After Tomorrow vibe more than anything else. And here I was expecting to have something to tide me over until Independence Day: Resurgence came out. Eh, no biggie.

    Anyway, with its themes of quarantined isolation and genocidal deception, The 5th Wave has a rather small budget even for a sci-fi, action thriller (a poultry $38 million). It shows. “Wave” is about countless alien invasions but doesn’t give you enough visually, to think that any alien species really exist. I mean yeah they’re disguised as humans but you can hardly tell. And despite a few spaceships roaming the sky and one giant mothership coming out of some cumulus clouds, this is more a military affair than an extraterrestrial glop fest. What can I tell ya, I dug it anyway. The storytelling is taut, the troupers are ones you generally care about, the action sequences are quite nifty, and the 80’s-style soundtrack is seemingly legit. January “junk?” Thankfully no.

    Containing an intense, dystopian flavor (even for something rated PG-13), featuring a romantic interest in the form of a half-human, taking place in Ohio, filmed entirely in Atlanta, GA, and based on a novel of the same name (written by Rick Yancey), The Fifth Wave throws buildup out the window as it contains two important flashbacks (one of them having varying camera angles) plus the adage of top billed actress Chloe Grace Moretz narrating Earth’s cordial demise. The Moretz character is named Cassie Sullivan. She’s your typical high school kid. She goes to parties, she meets boys, she has close friends, and she studies hard. This is all status quo until a plethora of alien attacks offs her parents, separates her from her brother (Sam Sullivan played by Zackary Arthur), and forces her to become a gun-wielding badass. You see these aliens are in the form of an army called the Others. And they are headed by a threatening colonel named Vosch (played by Liev Schreiber). From what I’ve gathered, Vosch’s chief motivation is to eliminate all the human adults and then have the children go through military training so that they get into gunfights while deceptively killing off each other. This plot point was one of many startling revelations in “Wave” that I didn’t pick up initially.

    Being the best film of the year so far, the only thing that bugged me about The Fifth Wave though was its need to cut corners in terms of special effects shots. In my mind I kept saying, “this isn’t an art film, it’s suppose to be a popcorn-munching blockbuster.” Oh well. What’d gonna do.

    All in all, The 5th Wave ends with the disappearance of one of its leads. And there are also a couple of final moments involving the protagonists hanging out at a campfire. These pointers are there to indicate that a sequel might be in the works. Based on “Wave’s” lukewarm box office take and critical ribbing, I don’t know if that will happen. If it does, I’ll happily buy a ticket. What the heck. My rating: 3 stars.

    Of note: In The 5th Wave, director J Blakeson implores some cool, gun disarming scenes, he shoots a title wave sequence in which the cities of New York and London turn to rubble, and he casts an unrecognizable Mario Bello to play a Nazi-like sergeant (of the Others) named Reznik. Talk about a woman having a bad hair and makeup day. Yeesh!

    Rating: 3 out of 4 stars

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  • Young Cassie Sullivan (Chloë Grace Moretz) is first glimpsed running through the woods before warily approaching an abandoned convenience store to forage for supplies. She hears a man cry for help and, suspecting he is hiding a weapon inside his coat, kills him with her machine gun. “I miss the Cassie I was,” she laments via voiceover.

    That Cassie was like any normal teenager, though perhaps a tad too sanitised for its target audience’s protection. She parties responsibly, is awkward enough to start a conversation with her high-school crush Ben (Nick Robinson) by commenting on his cell phone case, and is the type to let her dad (Ron Livingston) know that she made it home in time for curfew before serenading her younger brother Sam (Zackary Arthur) to sleep. Then the Others arrive.

    The Others are the unheard and unseen occupants of a massive alien mothership that has been circling the United States before deciding to make Cassie’s Ohio neighbourhood as its base of operations. Ten days pass before the Others reveal themselves to be the bearers of deadly tidings, unleashing a series of attacks intended to decimate the human race. The first wave is an electromagnetic pulse that plunges the planet in darkness. The second wave comes in the form of earthquake-triggered tsunamis. The third is a deadly virus that claims most of the survivors, including Cassie’s mom (Maggie Siff), though many are inexplicably immune. The fourth wave is the knowledge that not all humans are actually humans, that the Others are among us and they are out to kill. The revelation of the fourth wave, occurring shortly after Cassie and her family arrive at a refugee camp, results in Cassie being separated from her father and brother.

    The bulk of the film is devoted to Cassie’s efforts to rescue Sam from the air force base where he, Ben, and hundreds of other children and teenagers have been transported for their safety. Naturally, the military have more on their mind than safeguarding their young wards; they want to train the children to fight the Others. As Cassie makes her way to the military base, she’s waylaid by the mysterious but hunky Evan Walker (Alex Roe), who saves her after she’s shot by a sniper and insists on aiding her in her mission to reunite with Sam.

    Based on the first installment of Rick Yancey’s successful YA trilogy, The 5th Wave hews close to the formula employed to profitable returns in the Twilight and The Hunger Games franchises. Though she superficially resembles Katniss on paper, Cassie is a less passive Bella, eyes wide and mouth agape at the goings-on around her. Like both heroines, Cassie is saddled with a love triangle, though Evan appears to have the distinct edge over Ben given the amount of time Evan and Cassie spend together. Where The 5th Wave distinguishes itself from the sisterhood, which also includes Divergent’s Tris Prior, is its Eighties vibe. The film very much feels like a throwback to such sci-fi/post-apocalyptic works such as Red Dawn, They Live, and Starman.

    One could do worse than The 5th Wave, which is not exactly a ringing endorsement but quite right for the latest in the seemingly endless conveyor belt of end-of-days teens juggling the fate of humankind with their romantic travails. By this point, however, aren’t audiences rooting for the so-called enemies to triumph? Then again, in The 5th Wave’s case, alien overlords who would jeopardise world domination to bother themselves with a bunch of pesky teenagers deserve whatever they get.

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  • “There were no messages from our galactic party crashers during the first 10 days. But pretty soon, they had a name. We called them The Others.”

    I’m not a believer of those New Year’s resolutions which are traditionally made during a drunk moment. Usually they are long forgotten after a few months. However, I have a new resolution after watching “The 5th Wave”. I’m never ever going to watch another post-apocalyptic, teen film based on a youth book, where there’s also the intention to use it in several, successive films. Content wise it’s obvious this movie is intended for teenage girls. The initial genres linked to this movies are completely useless. It all started great and it seemed to me it was going into an interesting direction. But the moment the romantic, pubertal storyline started in the middle of the film, the labels of action-packed, adventurous SF for this twaddle, claptrap movie were replaced by lame and romance. Probably it’ll grow a fan-base among pubescent teenage girls.

    Clearly there was a lot of borrowing from other films. The minute Cassie (Chloe Grace “The Equalizer” Moretz), Miss Popularity at school and in love with hunk number one of that school, saw the alien spaceship dangling above the earth (enjoy it because this is the only brief moment those aliens are shown), it was as if this scene came out of “Independence day”. Quickly it becomes clear that these intergalactic visitors aren’t as friendly as E.T. Through several attack, which are called “waves”, these villains try to decimate the world population systematically. You don’t need to be an intellectual to guess how many waves there will be, after looking at the film title. Lets find some more parallels with other films. The first wave reminded me of “Dragon Day”. The second wave caused a tsunami that was filmed in a similar manner as in “The Day after Tomorrow”. There just wasn’t an oil tanker in it. And the training camp where teenagers learn how to fight against “the others”, can safely be compared with “Ender’s Game”. The similarities with other dystopian teen films, with an innocent person emerging as the savior of mankind like “The Hunger Games”, “Divergent” and “The Giver”, are so obvious that it’s unnecessary to rekindle them.

    As said earlier, it started quite reasonable and extremely shocking at the same time. The way Cassie’s loved ones died, was even for me a lot to swallow. I’m sure Cassie’s father Oliver (Ron “The Conjuring” Livingstone) imagined his fate less violent. And the third wave was fatal to Cassie’s mother Lisa (Maggie Siff). It seemed as if the plagues that struck Egypt, were given a second life. Except that the fourth wave felt so infantile. A sort of laziness of the writer to make the twist used at the end of the movie a bit easier. It was so obvious to foresee what was going to happen when Cassie met the sturdy, wood chopping Evan Walker (Alex Roe). And from that moment on the film changed from a nail-biting, promising SF into an irritating, goody-goody teen movie that gave me cold shivers. Liev Schreiber still tried his best, but his role stands in sharp contrast to that in “Spotlight”.

    All my respect for Moretz who tried to play a proper role but probably was inhibited by the ridiculous story. What particularly surprised me was that her cosmetic case, full of make-up and hair products, was nowhere to be seen throughout the film. I have to give the filmmakers credit for that. They had to pay attention to that meticulously, because I’m almost sure she carried that case all the time with her, judging by her appearance. I’ve encountered a review title somewhere, that sums it up perfectly: “This SF-thriller doesn’t want to tell a solid story to young adults – it just wants their money”. I hope there won’t be any sequels, so youngsters can spend their money on more meaningful things.

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