THE 5TH WAVE
*1/2 (out of 5)
January 22, 2016
Chloë Grace Moretz as CASSIE SULLIVAN
Nick Robinson as BEN PARISH / ZOMBIE
Ron Livingston as OLIVER SULLIVAN
Maggie Siff as LISA SULLIVAN
Alex Roe as EVAN WALKER
Maria Bello as SERGEANT REZNI
Maika Monroe as RINGER
Liev Schreiber as COLONEL VOSCH
Zackary Arthur as SAMMY SULLIVAN
Directed by: J Blakeson
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
This past November, “The Hunger Games” wrapped up, and while there’s been talk from Lionsgate that they are planning on making some prequel movies, that ends the box office reign of young adult books-turned-movies. Sure, there’s been some moderate success with “Divergent” and “The Maze Runner,” but these have failed to break into the mainstream, no matter how much Summit or Fox wants to admit it. To wit, these two franchises are more of the “Percy Jackson” films than the “Harry Potter” ones.
Now, Hollywood is scrambling to hang onto the trend. In moves of desperation not seen since the studios started cranking out teen fantasy hopefuls like “Eragon,” “The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising,” “City of Ember,” “I Am Number Four” and “Inkheart” as the end to “Harry Potter” loomed, the studios are doing the same with young adult dystopian adventures.
Sadly for the people involved in “The 5th Wave,” this will likely not break out into the mainstream either.
Based on a book series, “The 5th Wave” tells the story of an alien invasion on Earth. Chloë Grace Moretz plays an everyday Ohio teenager who is (sort of) narrating the invasion from ground zero. The aliens (or as they are conveniently and uncreatively called, the Others) announce their presence by flying huge ships over the world, a huge rip-off of “Independence Day” with a dash of “District 9” thrown in.
The Others attack Earth in waves. First, they wipe out our technology with a massive EMP (which somehow also takes out running water, even though that has nothing to do with modern electronics). Then, they create huge earthquakes around the world that cause building-sized tsunamis to wipe out all the coastal cities. (Of course, because the film takes place in Ohio, Lake Erie also experiences a ludicrously impossibly huge tsunami that reaches inland for miles.) In the third wave, the aliens… er, I mean the Others… modify the bird flu to kill humans worldwide.
In the fourth wave, the plan is to have the Others take over humans to infiltrate the survivors. We join the story as the unknown fifth wave is set to start.
So, aside from shamelessly ripping off scenes, shots and ideas from “Independence Day,” “War of the Worlds,” “Deep Impact,” “Contagion” and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” we have some of the worst writing I’ve seen in science fiction in a while. Not at any point do the survivors rebuild any electronics after the EMP hits. Never do they address the question of “Glee”-inspired geography where the alien spacecraft files over Columbus, Lake Erie floods their forest, the family settles in the Cuyahoga Valley and then try to escape to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton. At no point is there any sign that humans are even trying to figure out what these aliens are or what their purpose is.
But we have plenty of time for whining about not being able to use iPhones any more, racing back to camp to save a child’s teddy bear and make sweet teen love in the woods. Oh, and for some reason even with running water impossibly wiped out by the EMP, everyone still showers, wears make-up, gets their hair cut, shaves and has clean clothes.
Much like “Divergent” and “The Maze Runner,” “The 5th Wave” suffers from the both oversharing and undersharing the story elements that should be easily available in a realistic situation. It throws around jargon interspersed in the nonsensical dialogue throughout the film.
Ultimately, “The 5th Wave” is an unintentionally humorous excuse for dumbed down science fiction filmmaking. It’s painful to watch and as uninteresting as toenail fungus. Sure, if you’re a fan of the books, you might like this. Otherwise, it’s a laughable effort for a cast that really deserved better.