Some early interesting concepts and great set pieces don’t come close to making up for this painfully bad wanna-be teen series that aptly lives up to is lame title.
Outside of the occasional surprises and Oscar Nominated wide-releases, the months of January and February are known as the “dumping grounds” for studio’s worst films. “The 5th Wave” is certainly one of these being dumped on uninformed audiences.
With a cast that includes Liev Schreiber, Chloë Grace Moretz, Ron Livingston, and a plot that revolves around not two, not three, not four, but FIVE waves of alien attacks, you might be tempted to spend your hard earned cash to see what it’s all about. Sit through the first 20 minutes and you may even think you’ve discovered one of those rare obscure sci-fi gems. It certainly has some great post-apocalyptic set pieces. It even handles the first three waves with some legit (if not necessarily new) science fiction concepts, which are presented in some very effective manners. But don’t be fooled! These first waves cannot prepare you for the brain-numbingly remaining waves.
After this nearly intriguing beginning, Cassie (Chloë Grace Moretz), her father Oliver (Ron Livingston), and her little brother all end up in a Summer Camp, er, Refugee Camp in the middle of the Ohio forest. It’s impossible to tell how much time passes between any of the events in this film, but “soon” the military rolls in and separates the adults from all the impressionable and vital children. Cassie is obviously concerned, but Oliver reassures her, “This is the United States Army, they’re here to help!” And thus begins the incredible decline in dialog, intelligence, and logic. In the first ludicrous scene, Cassie is separated from her brother, and moments later all the adults are dead. Apparently 24 hours after that, Cassie has become an experienced survivalist. (you can tell by all the dirt she rubs on herself…for some reason?)
If we were to run down all the reasons this film is so painfully bad, this review would devolve into an equally painful lengthy list that gave away the entire “plot”. Instead, let’s focus on a few key items. These “others” are technologically advanced enough to travel across the stars in a massive ship, manipulate our resources, and alter virus DNA, but apparently do not possess a single weapon of any kind. They eventually deploy “drones” that are completely pointless, apparently lacking even the most basic sensors. (These aliens would be better off employing Amazon Drones.) At one point the true alien form is revealed to be what looks like a giant (poorly animated) tick massaging a human’s brain. How do they get in there? Where exactly in the cranium do they fit? Why are they supposedly so hard to detect? When the plan of the “5th Wave” is revealed, why have they gone through such a long convoluted process when they could have just inhabited all of their soldiers? And what is with the abrupt “Twilight-Love-Triangle-Envy” that includes implied statutory rape? (or at the very least an extremely inappropriate makeout session.)
Films whose intended audience are angst-ridden misfit teenagers should never be so condescending. It’s disheartening that producers/studios/directors think that this type of ludicrous drivel is “ok.” A little more effort, a little more intelligence and they could have created a compelling film. Instead of wasting your time on this, check out “The Kings of Summer” or “Me & Earl & the Dying Girl” instead. They aren’t sci-fi but are perfect examples of films that focus on teen characters without being remotely condescending.
Note: I’m no expert, but I’m almost certain the “Gun Disarming Technique” shown in the film would get you shot. I’ll stick with some of Jackie Chan’s tried and true methods instead.