FILM REVIEW; THE 5TH WAVE

#TeenageLivesMatter – Another movie adaptation of a young-adult sci-fi novel comes our way and this time our young’uns are at the mercy of faceless aliens. The 5th Wave is adapted from the Rick Yancey novel of the same name and at this point, I don’t expect any YA films to carry any form of originality or incisiveness. Even the Hunger Games trilogy, which is regarded as the pinnacle of the recent YA fad, ended with a limp war cry.

The 5th Wave, from director J Blakeson, sees an ominous alien ship hovering over the USA (of course). As they prepare to launch an offensive on the America which also means the human race as always. Chloe Grace Moretz as Cassie Sullivan features here as our primary protagonist and the film opens with her wandering through still woods and abandoned towns in the aftermath of waves of alien attacks that sees them unleash electromagnetic pulses killing all power, earthquakes and floods on the earth’s helpless population. The aliens have one final assault – the 5th wave as it were.

What can I say of Cassie? Nothing much I guess. She has/had a kid brother and a mom and dad. She partied, played football and had crushes on boys. Not bad agency to be honest. I bet a number of teenagers will connect to her but alas, some of us desired something more – something we knew we were not going to get from a PG 13 YA adaptation. Cassie reminds of Beth from the Walking Dead and the film kind of looked like the Walking Dead owing to the ghost towns and wide shots of highways littered with abandoned vehicles but Cassie is no Beth and this film vastly differs in tone.

You may be waiting for some more plotting details but I don’t want to go too far for a film low on lean meat. I can tell you we get a glimpse into the future with reported adaptations of the Animorphs in the works. Remember the yeerks? We appear to get something like that here. The aliens are inhabiting and taking control of Americans humans but we don’t know how they really inhabit their hosts or who the enemy may be. We just know they are among us and the aliens’ essential plan in this 5th wave as it were.

I should also point out kids are drawn into punishing and innocence bruising situations as is the norm in these post-apocalyptic YA adaptations and this kind of hints at this film wants to be. You feel like the first four waves were about physical punishment and old testament disasters but the 5th wave is about an internal erosion that befalls the teenagers here that are effectively turned into child soldiers under the command of Colonel Vosch (Liev Schreiber) and his platoon who come on the scene in the first act to provide safety-ish for some survivors from the first four waves. They also kick off the slew of plot holes this film carries.

Director Blakeson isn’t decisive with his tone. It wavers between touchy family moments and attempts at a tense generic projection of a Walking Dead-esque aura. It is ultimately a film that doesn’t grip you but doesn’t elicit spite either. It’s just bland and surely it could have tried to be a little more ambitious. It is weighed down by shoddy writing which lacks proper stakes the script never challenges Moretz who is on auto pilot and fails to convince as an emotional presence and survivalist in these apparent trying times.

I dare say the days of the PG-13 YA adaptations are over but as you would expect from the first film adaptation of a trilogy, the film’s closing scene leaves the survivors primed for a sequel. I doubt they will get one though. The world is tired and besides, JK Rowling adaptations are about to be the new ish as we enter the second half of this decade.

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