April 21, 2016

Blu-Ray Review: THE 5TH WAVE

Starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson, Ron Livingston, Maggie Siff, Alex Roe, Maria Bello, Maika Monroe, Liev Schreiber. Directed by J. Blakeson. (2016, 112 min).

Yet another start-up attempt at a franchise based on a popular series of young adult novels, The 5th Wave offers strong evidence the genre has reached its nadir. It’s not badly made or anything, but like the Divergent films, there’s just nothing unique or memorable about it either. The film feels cynically assembled with the conceit that every popular novel series is a franchise waiting to happen.

It's sort of a shame, really, because The 5th Wave begins like gangbusters. A multi-waved attack by unseen aliens devastates most of the Earth through electromagnetic pulses (causing a worldwide power outage), massive quakes & floods and a lethal virus. These first 20 minutes are as dark and ominous as any young adult adaptation you’d care to name (including The Hunger Games), prepping us for an exciting post-apocalyptic war between the remaining survivors and the alien invaders.

Unfortunately, the focus shifts to a batch of bland teenagers who are the only ones capable of fighting back. The explanation for this isn’t very convincing, having something to do with the aliens able to mimic adults but not the children. So kids are recruited by the Army to train and fight. Despite being well-performed by a great looking cast of talented actors, these kids are walking cliches lifted from better movies, such as the badass chick who takes no shit (and suspiciously resembles Bella from Twilight), a few charming little rubes whose purpose is to unexpectedly die, and two hunky dudes obviously created to establish an obligatory love-triangle with the female lead in future movies. In this case, it’s Cassie (Chloe Grace Moretz), who spends most of the time looking for her little brother after they become separated. These characters are mostly symbols rather than flesh & blood people with unique personalities.

P.E. class...Texas style.

As for the story...these aliens appear to be really stupid, especially after a third act plot reveal which suggests their multi-wave attack is a half-assed plan in danger of being thwarted by a batch of teenagers. And of course, there’s an open-ended conclusion which promises the story will continue. But since the film begins with a bang and ends with a whimper, we aren’t left to care whether or not we see any of these characters again.

Even now, the memory fades. I’d be hard-pressed to name a single character or scene which had any lasting impact on me once the end credits rolled. Despite being competently made, with fairly decent (thought obviously CGI) visual effects, The 5th Wave doesn’t really resonate at all. Fans of Rick Yancey’s original novel might enjoy it a bit more, but even they might see it as just a checklist of events. There’s simply no attempt to make the film anything above and beyond the usual young adult fodder.


  • FEATURETTES: “The 5th Wave Survival Guide”; “Training Squad 53”; “Creating a New World”; “Inside The 5th Wave”; “Sammy on the Set”
  • Audio Commentary by Director J. Blakeson & Chloe Grace Moretz.
  • Gag Reel
  • Deleted Scenes


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