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Overall Rating

Awesome: 12.5%
Worth A Look: 0%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap87.5%

1 review, 2 user ratings

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5th Wave, The
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by Jay Seaver

"Just another boring teenage end of the world."
1 stars

I'm kind of curious what sort of effects budget gets you a city-destroying cataclysm these days, because "The 5th Wave" has a few of those at the beginning but nothing else that particularly impresses. It doesn't even give the audience a look at its alien invaders. That makes it a dreadfully boring young adult sci-fi thing, the type with franchise ambitions but little reason beyond the involvement of a few folks who have done better work for anybody to be interested in it continuing.

We initially meet narrator Cassie Sullivan (Chloe Grace Moretz) as she's already on the run, scavenging what she can after the end of the world, so we flash back to when she was an ordinary teenage girl in Ohio, before the "Others" came and, after simply hanging in the air for a while, hit the earth with waves of attacks - an EMP, massive earthquakes, super-powerful avian flu. She gets separated from her father (Ron Livingston) and little brother Sam (Zackary Arthur) when the army shows up at a refugee camp warning of a fourth wave, alien parasites within human hosts. Setting out to find Sam, she is shot by a sniper, but nursed back to health by hunky survivor Evan Walker (Alex Roe). Meanwhile, Sam and other kids are recruited by Colonel Vosch (Liev Schreiber) to fight the aliens and the upcoming fifth wave.

Looking at the themes that made it into the script, it's not hard to see why the original book might have been popular enough to spawn sequels and a movie adaptation; there's good stuff in there about kids being used and not being the shallow types adults see them as. There's a moment of potentially-interesting perspective when the aliens' motivation is laid out. And though some may roll their eyes at certain tropes, if teenagers like that served up with potential love triangles, why not? These may be familiar trappings, but there's something to them; you can see the ideas behind them.

But, come on, sell it to us! "The Others" is a name that either needs to be long-established or come from a genuinely creepy place, rather than just being inserted via narration with no background. Once at the military base, characters are dropped in the audience's laps like the brief wordless moments they'd had before were supposed to bond us with them. Tons of stuff happens off screen or involves people saying "this is how it is, take our word for it", which is not a great approach when you're trying to set up a plot about body-snatching aliens. There are at least two moments when characters outright say that what they're being asked to do doesn't make any sense, and it never feels clever.

It's disappointing to see J Blakeson directing this; he's one of those guys who made an impressive feature debut (The Disappearance of Alice Creed) and then seemed to fall into a hole for five years, presumably hiring on after being unable to launch his own projects during that time. He can still inject suspense into a scene and get a good result out of his cast when there are some stakes to the scene, but the script often isn't strong enough for that. At other times, the movie just seems unconscionably sloppy, from overly on-point voiceover narration to a sequence where a teddy bear whose presence is pointed out as important both because Sam pitches a fit over not wanting to leave camp without it and because Blakeson and cinematographer Enrique Chediak often frame shots to emphasize that it's Cassie's last tangible connection to her family appears to be in two places at once, in a way so obvious that even moviegoers who deride noticing such things as nitpicking may scratch their heads.

The cast stuck doing this is even more of a waste. Chloe Grace Moretz has shown a lot of capability from an early age but never makes Cassie into someone who can hold the audience's attention beyond claiming to be more than the first impression she makes. Nick Robinson is white bread as one of her presumed romantic interests, while Alex Roe at least manages white bread with a somewhat crispy crust as the other. Maika Monroe, so good in The Guest and It Follows, at least gets the chance to act frustrated and annoyed as "Ringer", the combat-capable teen who is apparently still putting on black eyeliner weeks/months after an alien invasion. Also, the kids are given code names to presumably sound cooler. Liev Schreiber and Maria Bello seem like they must have better things to do than play the military types here.

The climax involves rescuing one kid out of a mob of hundreds who are probably equally worthy but just don't mean as much to the protagonists, and that's an unfortunate metaphor for the film at large: It does nothing to stand out from the other teen-oriented matters of life and death hitting the screen, but expect the audience's approval anyway. Being dumped in January means a sequel is probably unlikely, and that's fine: There's a lot left open, but it's no more interesting than it was when things started.

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originally posted: 01/24/16 17:04:37
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User Comments

3/26/16 Langano Laughable. 1 stars
1/22/16 FireWithFire I want to bugger Chloe Grace Moretz. 5 stars
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  22-Jan-2016 (PG-13)
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