Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews
The 5th Wave | Chloë Grace Moretz, Liev Schreiber, Maria Bello, Nick Robinson, Alex Roe, Zackary Arthur, Ron Livingston, Maika Monroe | Review
- Category: Judy Thorburn
- Published on 23 January 2016
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The 5th Wave
Following on the heals of Twilight, The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner series comes The 5th Wave, an alien invasion movie, based on Rick Yancey's popular 2013 young adult novel. It is the first in a trilogy that the filmmakers are hoping will cash in on the tremendous success of those other targeted for teens franchises. But, the derivative screenplay by Akiva Goldsman (Oscar winner for A Beautiful Mind), Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich) and Alex Pinkner (The Amazing Spider-Man 2) featuring an end of the world scenario and spunky heroine doesn't live up to the expectations from the trailer.
Chloe Grace Moretz stars as Cassie Sullivan, a high school student whose normal life is shattered with the sudden arrival of a massive alien spaceship hovering above the planet. Offering no communication with earthlings, the interplanetary invaders, dubbed “The Others”, begin a series of attacks on the earth and its inhabitants that come in waves. The first wave sends an electronic pulse that knocks out all the electrical power and technology causing planes to fall from the sky, cars crashing and so on. The second is a series of earthquakes and tsunamis in which gigantic waves engulf and destroy every coastal city and island all over the world. The third is a genetically modified, deadly avian flu spread by birds that takes out most of the population. Some people are immune, but among those who die from the virus is Cassie's mom, Lisa (blink and you will miss Maggie Siff). The fourth wave has “The Others” now known as “Silencers” coming down to Earth to inhabit human hosts and kill off remaining survivors. The fifth wave is supposed to be a shocker, although I saw it coming way in advance.
After surviving the catastrophes, Cassie, her father (Ben Livingston, in a thankless role) and younger brother, Sam (Zackery Arthur) are forced to leave their home and everything else behind and go to a refugee camp inhabited by other survivors. Enter the military led by Colonel Vosch (Liev Schreiber) from Wright Patterson Air Force Base, who upon arrival, orders all the kids to be taken by bus to another site, at which time Cassie is left behind and separated from her brother.
Armed with a gun given to her by her father, a determined Cassie embarks on a trek to find and unite with her only sibling. After being hit by an unseen sniper's bullet, Cassie is rescued by and reluctantly forms an alliance with a hunky and almost too pretty, mysterious farm boy named Evan Walker (a bland Alex Roe) harboring a secret.
Meanwhile, Sam has been recruited to be part of a team of young soldiers led by Cassie’s high school crush, Ben Parish, nicknamed Zombie (Jurassic World's Nick Robinson), that also includes the tough, kick ass, heavily eye-lined, Goth girl, Ringer (It Follows star Maika Monroe). Told by Sargeant Reznik (a wasted, almost comical Maria Bello, in implausible, ridiculous, overdone makeup) that the extra-terrestrials have taken over the brains of human hosts, the youngsters are trained to hunt down and kill the enemy, with the help of helmets equipped with special visors to tell humans apart from aliens that look, on the outside, just like us.
Although the film is billed as a sci fi action thriller, there are few thrills, not much action, and lacks real tension and suspense. The CGI effects, which are few and brief, including a gigantic tidal wave smashing into Miami and the London Bridge early on, are well done, but we all want and come to expect lots more dazzling special special effects from a post apocalyptic sci fi flick. Moreover, at times, the clunky dialogue and cheesy, budding romance between Cassie and Evan are laughable.
Moretz is adequate, but nothing more, in a role that requires her to look sad or scared and do a lot of running, even after she is supposed to be recovering from a nasty bullet wound in her thigh.
The Fifth Wave is so boring and slow moving that several audience members at my advance screening fell asleep. Add a huge wave of disappointment and, well, you get the picture.