John Hanlon Reviews

Film Reviews

The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave

Genre: Action and Adventure, Science Fiction

Director: J Blakeson

Cast: Chloe Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson, Ron Livingston, Maggie Siff, Alex Roe, Maria Bello, Maika Monroe, Liev Schreiber

MPAA-Rating: PG-13

Release Date: January 22nd, 2016

There’s a solid story underneath the superficial young adult clichés that overshadow the plot of the new film The Fifth Wave. One only wishes that the filmmakers would’ve felt confident enough to focus on the uniqueness of this story rather than inundate it with stereotypical characters and plot developments.

The film is yet another adaptation of a young adult novel about the potential end of the world. This one was adapted from the Rick Yancey novel of the same name that marks the beginning of a new series about young people saving the world.

Like in The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner, price young people take center stage early on in this drama. After aliens approach Earth, there our world is hit be multiples waves of attacks. An electromagnetic pulse. A massive earthquake. An enigmatic disease that wipes out thousands of people. These are the first stages of the attack and they provide reason enough for survivors to seek refuge in local camps.  The grieving Oliver (Ron Livingston), who recently lost his wife, and his two children Cassie (Chloë Grace Moretz) and Sam (Zackary Arthur) are three of those survivors.

After they are separated from their father though (the army attempts to keep the children away from their parents), Cassie and Sam are sent to a training facility but the duo are separated along the way. Cassie is then forced to find him so that the two can be reunited once again.

After the separation, director J. Blakeson focuses the film on two alternating storylines. In one, Cassie is injured and befriended by an enigmatic loner named Evan (Alex Roe). In the other, Sam becomes a recruited member of the militia, where he trains under the watchful eye of Cassie’s high school classmate Ben Parish (Nick Robinson).

The concept of these dueling storylines is a departure from similar young adult fare but the screenplay by Susanna Grant, Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner is too plain to really capture the energy of the ideas. Cassie’s alliance with Evan gives the duo plenty of time to spend together but their characters are simply one-dimensional and trite. Cassie trusts Evan. Then she doesn’t. Then she does again. Their relationship simply feels routine and boring for this type of adventure. It would have been more interesting if these characters truly challenged one another, rather than challenged the viewers’ patience.

The story concerning Ben and Sam’s training is better served (their growing bond comes across nicely onscreen) but that story too culminates in a rescue situation that seems bizarrely unearned.

Even the twists here — and there are a few surprises — are easily predictable. Instead of the twists arriving with suspense, the writers have needlessly and blatantly foreshadowed them in the earliest scenes. For most of the drama’s running time, it’s not a matter of if there will be a twist. It’s a matter of when and the filmmakers drag the viewers through an empty story to get them to that conclusion.

If that’s not enough, much of the dialogue feels like standard young adult fare. At one point, Evan notes to Cassie, “Love’s not a trick. It’s real.” The dialogue and the story could’ve been much better served here as the beginning of the movie is really quite interesting and unique. By the story’s end though, this young adult picture has lost its uniqueness and sadly stumbles into the same tropes that we’ve seen countless times before.

Review by: John Hanlon