Film & TV

Film Review: The 5th Wave

When high school cheerleader Cassie loses her family in an alien invasion, she must learn to survive in order to rescue her captured young brother & humankind.

First came the arrival of aliens, and an electromagnetic pulse that blacked out the world. Cars stopped, phones died, and planes fell from the sky. Our technology was dead.

Second was a massive wave of destruction, setting the planet itself against us with earthquakes and tidal waves to tear down what we had built.

Third was biological, infecting those remaining, and when still some survived, the invasion came next to wipe out the last of humanity. The fifth wave was when we fought back.

So goes the thrilling story of The 5th Wave, the latest young adult drama to hit our big screens. Based on the bestselling, award-winning novel by Rick Yancey (the first in a series, of course!) it’s a story that delivers on twists and action, with more than one surprise in store for those who have not read the book.

It’s adapted for the screen by Susannah Grant, Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner, and delivered with relative gusto by director J Blakeson. The story wanes in parts but mostly manages to maintain the excitement.

The acting is fairly good, particularly by Chloë Grace Moretz as central figure Cassie Sullivan, a high school cheerleader forced to become a warrior when she loses her family in the onslaught. She is aided by super sexy Alex Roe, who she can’t help but kiss, while her high school crush, Ben “Zombie” Parish, risks life and limb to protect her kid brother (Zackary Arthur) even as they’re both turned into fighting soldiers by the US Army, lead by Colonel Vosch (Liev Schreiber).

The oddity of the armed forces turning kids into soldiers becomes clear as the plot develops but there’s a lot of hit and miss in this relatively enjoyable adaptation; the main problem being that the hot young ensemble seems to have been primarily cast for their looks. Even the children are cutesy. That’s not to say they don’t deliver but it’s difficult to believe in a world where ugly or plain looking people don’t exist.

Similar young adult war films, like Red Dawn or Tomorrow, When the War Began, put young people into adult situations, forcing them to grow up quickly to survive. In The 5th Wave, we have children playing dress-ups – the barracks scene of kids playing cards in their tank tops, talking tough and acting like stereotypical army grunts was just ridiculous.

There’s a lot to like about The 5th Wave – the action, the effects, the plot twists, and the promise of more to come. There’s also a lot that requires you to leave your brain at the door and accept that it’s a young person’s fantasy. It’s sure to be popular amongst young adults and, with the foundations now firmly in place, the inevitable sequels will hopefully see the characterisations mature.

Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Twitter: @StrtegicRetweet

Rating out of 10:  6

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