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Teens will give 'The Fifth Wave' a shot

The Fifth Wave; 112 min; Rated PG-13

When it comes to movie releases, consider the last days of January to be the doldrums. Or, to reach for a sailing metaphor, if the last two weekends are any indication, we are in “irons,” meaning the sails move back and forth, listlessly, barely moving, but the vessel is stalled. Waiting.

Doldrums moviemakers, however, understand that those features that have been trickling out since late last fall, some having been nominated for Oscars, well, those folks who love movies are still playing catch up. The Academy Awards this year will be shown on Feb. 28, the vermillion carpet, walked by the glitterati in their finest, as provocative as a matador’s cape, all while the anticipation grows.

But, meanwhile, there is the tween/teen market, meaning kids will likely take a pass on, say, “Carol,” but will turn out for the newly released “The Fifth Wave.” Especially if it’s about a 16-year-old high school girl, Cassie Sullivan (Chloe Grace Moretiz), with all of her teenage bona fides in place: lots of friends, nonstop texting, on the soccer team and in the thrall of a crush on a senior football player named Ben (Nick Robinson). The movie, based on the YA trilogy by Rick Yancey, might qualify for that moniker known as a “chick flick,” had it not been for the fact that it is an apocalyptic/dystopian movie not unlike, say, “Independence Day” with an overlay of “The Hunger Games.”

The setup: An average school day, kids in class, all is normal, when reports come in that high above the earth hovers a ship of unknown origins. Not just something akin to the Hindenburg floating overhead (probably not a good example); rather, this is a massive E.T. fortress, one that signals that events are about to take place that will change the lives forever of all those who survive a global power outages, quakes, tidal waves, a pandemic and, finally, an invasion. In other words, the visitors don’t come in peace. As her dad (Ron Livingston) explains, “They’re not here for us. They’re here for Earth.”

Cassie is one of the survivors, and she abruptly finds herself alone and on the run, her father killed and her mother taken by a worldwide flu carried by birds.

Is Cassie resilient? Absolutely. Is the film formulaic and decidedly lame? To the max. Will kids like it? Definitely. End-of-the-world stuff (“the aliens move among us”) with a small dash of romance. So while the adults are waiting in line to see “The Revenant” or “The Danish Girl,” the kids will be down the street eager to see the first installment of “The Fifth Wave.”