Movie review: Don’t ride this ‘Wave’
Do you hunger for another movie about a teenage girl battling baddies in a post-apocalyptic war? Are you game for another movie where two boys vie for her affections? Will your friends label you an insurgent if you don’t want to see a movie that comes straight from a Xerox copier?
Please, boys and girls, I beg you, do not see “The 5th Wave” because if you do, we’ll likely be subjected to yet another trilogy based on a young adult novel, this one by Rick Yancey. Trust me, if you’ve seen “The Hunger Games” and “Insurgent,” you’ve seen “The 5th Wave,” except this blatant ripoff is so lame it’s laughable. This film almost makes one yearn for the dramatic stylings of “Twilight.”
Here, Chloe Grace Moretz gets to play the plucky heroine, Cassie Sullivan. We know we’re supposed to like her because she’s awkward around boys, especially the adorably cute Ben Parish (Nick Robinson), she doesn’t break curfew, she loves her younger brother Sammy (Zackary Arthur) and she rescues manatees. OK, she doesn’t rescue manatees but she would if she didn’t live in Ohio.
All is right with the world until the arrival of a huge alien spaceship, which looks virtually the same as the one in “District 9.” The “wave” in the title refers to the number of catastrophes that the aliens rain down on Earth. An electromagnetic pulse robs the planet of all its power. Earthquakes, floods and tidal waves destroy cities and an avian flu epidemic wipes out much of the population. And the 5th wave signals the termination of all mankind. Making matters difficult for survivors, who gather at a makeshift camp, is that the aliens, called “the others,” can assume human form so you can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys. Yikes, could this be the end of the world as we know it? Boy, I’m sure glad no other film has posed that threat.
But wait. Just when it seems all is lost the Army arrives, led by Col. Vosch (Liev Schreiber). Now you may wonder how their vehicles work when no other vehicles can. You may also wonder why they would separate adults from children and then bus the children to a military base. You may even wonder what might happen to all the adults when they are herded into a mess hall. That’s right, they’re all going to learn the macarena.
Anyway, the children are trained to be soldiers to apparently fight the aliens.
While all this is going on, Cassie has been separated from Sammy – she went back to the camp to retrieve his teddy bear. To reunite with him, she makes a perilous journey where she encounters lions and tigers and bears. Oh my. Actually, she meets super hunky Evan Walker (Alex Roe), who rescues her from the others and establishes the potential for another ditzy love triangle. Their scenes together, to try to strengthen this romantic bond, drag the proceedings like a 70-ton anchor. The dialogue is particularly dreadful. “Love isn’t a trick,” says the smitten Alex. “It’s real.” Take that, Shakespeare.
The script by Academy Award-winner Akiva Goldsman, Academy Award nominee Susanna Grant and Jeff Pinkner is embarrassing. One assumes they were paid well.
Back at the base, Ben, nicknamed Zombie, has been put in charge of his unit. They are joined by a tough-talking rebel named Ringer (Maika Monroe). We know she’s tough because she wears a lot of black eyeliner. Unfortunately, she’s the most interesting character in the film even if she acts a lot like the tough-talking rebel Johanna Mason from “The Hunger Games.” Gunfights ensue looking remarkably like a video game. I’m sure that’s a coincidence.
While I’m a fan of Moretz, she was more convincing as a butt-kicker in “Kiss-Ass.” The rest of the cast comes from the generic catalog.
“The 5th Wave” suffers from a serious case of the derivatitis, aimed at people who don’t mind seeing the same movie over and over again. Perhaps they can also tolerate the laborious and unimaginative direction by J Blakeson. Maybe the “J” stands for Joke as in the joke’s on you if pay to see this mimeograph disguised as a movie.
The film’s poster asks “Can we survive The 5th Wave?” I answer, “Just barely.” But if I have to face a 6th one, I’m going to drown myself in a tsunami of pain.
“The 5th Wave” is 1 hour, 47 minutes long is rated PG-13 for violence, destruction, some sci-fi thematic elements, language and brief teen partying. The film is directed by J Blakeson and written by Susanna Grant, Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner. It stars Chloe Grace Moretz, Alex Roe, Nick Robinson and Liev Schreiber.