The 5th Wave – Review


As I said in my previous reviews January is typically the dumping ground for Movies where studios will release a film that they have absolutely no confidence in, in the hopes that it will make some money back with the lack of competition. This year we haven’t seen as many of those movies, mainly because Studios are still worried about competition with Star Wars and in fact, many of the films that came out in January in America have been pushed to a February/March release on these shores. The 5th Wave, however is one of the few examples of a film that has come out in January both over here and in the USA, so I felt it was worth a review. Plus I couldn’t just review everything that was getting Oscar nominations this month and it would be facetious and unfair to my fellow film critics who without question have to sit throughout a lot of the rubbish that comes out in the early portions of the year.

The 5th Wave is a film directed by J Blakeson whose only previous credit of a feature film was the averagely received ‘The Disappearance of Alice Creed’ a film I won’t claim to have seen or pass judgement on, though I will mention that that film came out in 2009, which means that Blakeson hasn’t helmed directing a feature film in 7 years, however, unlike The Disappearance of Alice Creed, this time he hasn’t written this film. This film is written by a team of writers and it is adapted from the first book in a series of young adult novels that the film is named after. I will say I am not probably the target audience for these sorts of films and even Hunger Games, which is arguably the best of the film series based on young adult novels, wasn’t entirely to my taste as I mentioned in my review of Mocking Jay Part 2. But as always, I go into these films with an open mind, granted I wasn’t entirely convinced by the 5th Wave as its trailer didn’t do much for me either. Its poster reminded me of another film which is getting a new edition into its series later this year, but I will get back to that later. With all that said and done, will The 5th Wave be a success or will it sink like its January release date suggests it will.

Humanity is being invaded by Aliens and they have attacked in 4 waves. The 1st was to cut all power and running water. The 2nd, create massive earthquakes that cause Tsunamis. The 3rd release a deadly virus and the 4th Wave infiltrate humanity and the Earth’s military led by Colonel Vosch (played by Liev Schreiber) prepares a counter attack using child soldiers, meanwhile high school student Cassie Sullivan (played by Chloe Grace Moretz) is determined to find and rescue her brother, Sam (played by Zackary Arthur) after they have been separated, but problems soon arise as the child soldiers prepare for what is to become, the Alien’s 5th Wave. When I saw the trailer for this film I was expecting this to be a low rent ‘Independence Day’ knock off and to some extent it is that, but I was not prepared for just how bad this film was going to be. As I mentioned before, the film is based on what is currently a trilogy of graphic novels and I have no idea if the books are planning to continue, or if the 3rd book is the conclusion, which I won’t claim to have read, so I will be judging the film on its own merits. However, I do have to believe that this must be a looser adaptation of the work because this film seems to have borrowed from virtually everything with very little of its own identity! The first 20 minutes look like they were stolen directly from Roland Emmerich films especially Independence Day, 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow and of course the nature of the Aliens known as ‘The Others’. Seriously have you ever heard of a more generic name for a group of villains than ‘The Others’, that’s how little imagination they are using as this point. Their tactics seem very reminiscent of John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ and ‘Invasion of The Body Snatchers’, not to mention, the whole child soldiers angle seems like it was lifted wholesale from ‘The Hunger Games’ and that’s not to mention there are several scenes that look like they were lifted directly from ‘The Walking Dead’ and ’28 Days Later’. As a result, you can watch this film and play a drinking game, and take a shot every time the film is blatantly ripping off another film, I wouldn’t recommend it though, because you will probably be dead halfway through the film!!

The film is very typical of film adaptations of young adult novels, a lot of very pretty young people so baby faced that the cast of Skins would worry that they were legal, being put in life and death situations against a tyranny brought on by oppressive adults, can anyone say Hunger Games again! This formula isn’t entirely impossible to make something out of. The Hunger Games, despite the fact that it was clearly ripping off ‘Battle Royale” at least had some of it’s own flair which gave it some of it’s own identity. This one does not! The screenplay is very poorly written. The only time it becomes slightly entertaining is when it is forced to focus on groups of the younger cast members because that’s when the dialogue seems natural and entertaining, but we are very rarely left on them for long periods of time, or on anyone. The film seems to dart about between the characters with not much happening. I know the film is bogged down by the fact that it’s meant to be the first in a series of films, so it does mean that the film is entirely set up for hopeful sequels, so as a result we are left to deal with several questions going unanswered by the end of the film, again this would not be an issue if the film was entertaining, which it isn’t!! In fact I’d even go so far as to say the film is rather underwhelming. It acts like it has a lot to say, but it doesn’t really have much to say about anything, so it really should have gone for being a dumb action film, but that wouldn’t work either because there are several long periods where there is no action happening at all. The middle portion of the film is so dry and dull you will be begging for something to happen and it never does! The pacing is dreadful, and I suspect several sequences from the book are missing because the film only comes in at 102 minutes, rather than the expected 120. That probably means that the film has to rush to get as many plot elements out as possible. I suspect a lot of character development that was necessary has been left on the cutting room floor. Not to mention that half the plot twists are so obvious that anyone with half a brain cell can see them coming, so there’s absolutely no surprise to it and you wonder why the characters don’t see it sooner. There are several plot twists later on in the film that when we eventually find out the nature of what the actual 5th Wave is, it all ends up raising more questions than it does answers and not in a good way that makes us want to desperately see the sequel, just in a way that makes us wonder how the writers thought they could get away with it. If there is a sequel, hopefully it will answer some of these questions, though I suspect that these are the kind of questions that sequels will try to pave over and make you forget.

The film also tries to do several romance angles, which don’t work and even try to set up a love triangle at the last portion of the film to expand on a sequel that is completely unnecessary and again feels like the writers were being influenced by ‘Hunger Games’. The plot is so uninteresting that it never hits any sort of emotional core. It just sort of goes on and on and most of the characters seem to have been written with the idea of mimicking characters from other more successful franchises, because a marketing department believes that copying and pasting them will make their film automatically more interesting. It really doesn’t. Not to mention that for most of the film the dialogue is terrible, not to absurd levels, it just further reinforces the dullness of what we are watching and I think a re-write would have drastically helped the film.

The film is obviously hooked for a sequel, a sequel however feels more desperate than usual, it almost seems like the film makers believe they can get away with writing a film like this because they think they are automatically get that sequel, I hate to break it to you, but if this film tanks or is poorly received by the critics you are not getting a sequel!!

As for the actors, they are not much better. Liev Schreiber is once again put in a bad film, but he is clearly mugging his way through and seems to that sort of smirk of ‘I know it’s bad, but it’s work’. Poor Chloe Grace Moretz, she finally gets the leading role that she rightfully deserves, and she is barely able to do anything, she is largely absent from much of the action in the middle portion of the film, so basically the entire middle portion of the film is left for her to gawp over Alex Roe, who also delivers probably one of the blandest performances I have seen in a while. When Chloe is allowed to act she does a decent job but her performance reeks of poor direction and for a talented actress like Chloe, that is not good enough. I’m getting a sense that she is getting bad advise because she seems to dart back and forth between good to bad films and I know she has great performances in her. Her performances in the Kick Ass movies and her fantastic role in the english dub of The Tales of Princess Kaguya are both marvels to behold. Maika Monroe is easily the best performance in the film but that is because her character is probably the least two dimensional and whilst she is a bit of a stereotype she at least plays it rather well, even if she is almost unrecognisable in the film, though even she feels like she is poorly directed, and again she had two excellent performances in ‘The Guest’ and her fantastic leading role in ‘It Follows”, which made my ten best films of 2015 list. Fans of Jurassic World will be glad to see Nick Robinson get a big part after his performance in that film, and while he does have a lot of the problems of having bad direction that all the actors seem to have, he at least makes an attempt to carry the film and I have to admire him for that. If anything, the biggest victims are the adult actors who really are given the worst lines and the worst parts, to such an extent, you will really, really wonder what were these guys doing taking the roles and why it takes the characters so long to get the plot twist!

As for the visuals of the film. They are not much better. This film is very CGI heavy which would not be such a bad thing if the CGI was well integrated. It’s really not! This is some of the most obvious CGI I have seen in a film in a long time! This is especially evident in the Earthquake and Tsunami effects, which look particularly bad. The design of the ships look like they were lifted wholesale from ‘Independence Day’ and I think that fact will be made more apparent when the ‘Independence Day’ sequel comes out in the Summer. The cinematography is also terrible. The reason this film is not shot in 3D is that the films action sequences are shot in environments that are so dark that the 3D would be impossible to see, not that it would make these action sequences better because they are so dark you can barely see what is going on, it’s impossible to make out anything. So, even someone like me, who watches a lot of action films, could hardly tell you how they flow. This film also has some of the most abysmal CGI during some of the fight scenes, it makes the film look like a video game for crying out loud, except that would be an insult to video games which seem to have better effects. In fact this whole thing would have been a lot better as a video game because at least the weakness in the story would have been made up for the fact that you would have the interactive nature of the game play.

THE 5TH WAVE IS A MESS, PURE AND SIMPLE! It has very few original ideas. It seems to constantly rip off other movies in the hopes of becoming the next ‘Hunger Games’, ‘Maze Runner’ or ‘Divergant’, however I think it will be joining the myriad of young adult novel series that fail to get sequels like ‘Tomorrow When The War Began’, “The Gold Compass’ or ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ and yes I am aware that Percy Jackson got a 2nd movie, but really, that franchise is dead now. The acting isn’t too bad, but it’s clear the actors have been poorly directed. The effects are rubbish and the story is so boring, over cliched and raises way more questions than answers that no one can care about. It doesn’t inspire you to see a sequel, it just inspires you to see better movies and TV series, instead of watching this one. The only saving grace was kind of Maika Monroe and Nick Robinson’s performances, but even that is not enough to save this movie. It was boring and a poor watch, I really have no desire to see where this possible franchise is going and I suspect this will tank at the Box Office.

So what are your thoughts on The 5th Wave if you have seen it? Please leave a comment. Did you agree with me or not? I would love to hear your opinions.

Here’s a good question for you –

“Is Hunger Games the best young adult novel adaptation?”

Remember you can leave your own content or reviews on the website by visiting our how to submit guest content section.

There is no film society review next week, due to the fact that I have my annual holiday to America. So my next review will be 12 February. I did see a movie before I went out there so I will be giving my thoughts on it just ahead of it’s day at the Oscars and BAFTA’s. My next review is going to be the big Oscar draw “Spotlight”.

Thanks for reading my review, I hope you enjoyed reading more than I enjoyed writing it because this film was awful!! See you when I get back from America.

Calvin – Nerd Consultant

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