The 5th Wave: Movie Review

5th-waveI’ve had this Rick Yancey book on my TBR pile for a while now but haven’t gotten around to reading it because of my busy schedule. Lo and behold, the movie release has finally caught up with me and now rather than miss it on its regular run, I jumped in and caught yet another YA dystopian novel and fell like I’ve gotten hooked to another saga… again.

Chloe Grace Moretz stars as Cassie Sullivan, a regular high school girl crushing on her classmate Ben Parish (Nick Robinson) when the world is suddenly attacked by aliens who, in the first wave of attacks caused all power in the world to go out. The following wave took the form of an earthquake that destroyed major cities in the world. The third wave came as a modified bird flu virus. By the fourth wave, “The Others” were already taking control of the humans. The 5th Wave looms while Cassie tries to save her brother, who was taken by the military to a camp that trains young children to be soldiers who will be used in the great war that will wipe out humanity.

While The 5th Wave was fairly predictable, given the number of young adult novels adopted into movies, and it will at some point feel familiar. Still, the film does pass for a fairly decent take on the genre.

The plot was pretty basic and employs the same basic formula that really gets kids and adults alike hooked to these types of films  — beautiful young people, the end of the world, and a love story embedded among all the chaos.

As per the storytelling, I thought that film did a pretty good job in laying down the foundation of the potential saga. Sure, it took half of the movie to establish the impact of the first to fourth waves but the strong cast of young actors led by Chloe Moretz and Nick Robinson more than made the film interesting. Chloe has proven herself time an again in a wide range of films and she did not disappoint as Cassie. When she lost her family, you could feel her pain, when she was shot on the leg, she reacted like a normal person who has never gotten shot in her life, would.

Nick, well, Nick was the perfect guy to play Zombie. He has a natural charisma and vulnerability about him that translates to his character even when he’s being tough, but I’m still on the fence about Ringer (Maika Monroe) and Evan (Alex Roe). I’m not sure if it was the characters or the actors that threw me off. It just felt that Ringer was trying too hard to be a toughie, and even when she was supposed to be showing a vulnerable side, she seemed stuck on goth mode. Her character felt like a watered down version of Johanna of The Hunger Games trilogy.

On the other hand, Evan seemed a bit too meta — I couldn’t connect to the character even though he was being developed into the male lead and Cassie’s love interest. I would much prefer if Cassie ended up with Ben because Ben had a lot of spunk, plus he genuinely seems to like Cassie. Cassie x Ben shipper here.

Anyways, on the technical side, I applaud the team for not getting too carried away with the CGI like many others would with this type of material. I also liked the film managed to achieve a good balance in delivering on the action and the dramatic components of the film, giving it more substance. The film devoted time to develop the characters, from the heroes to the villains (Liev Schrieber), and ended on a note that could be a simple cliffhanger ending or an opening for the next movie.

All in all, The 5th Wave did occasionally fall into the trap of pushing the love triangle and the teen love story that seems to be a requirement among novels in this genre. The scenes felt cliched but it was forgivable enough because it did not affect the overall feel of the movie.

At the end of the day, it was an entertaining piece of sci fi that stands out from the run off the mill offerings that some studios produce just to get on the bandwagon.