Yet another made-for-teens trilogy, this one written by Rick Yancey, "The 5th Wave" depicts the invasion of Earth by aliens. None of this is happy stuff, as the first four waves bring nothing but death and destruction.
Cassie Sullivan (Chloë Grace Moretz) and her family reside in Ohio, seemingly a smaller idyllic town. She's a "normal" teenage girl who plays soccer in high school and has her eye on the local football star, Ben Parish (Nick Robinson from "Jurassic World"). Her little brother, Sam (Zackary Arthur), is the apple of her eye, whom she loves and adores.
Once the invasion begins it comes in waves. Cassie's parents perish by the fifth wave when the children are taken, and she and Sam become separated. The "others", as they are now called, have begun taking over human bodies, so no one can be trusted.
Cassie is forced to arm and defend herself as she makes her way to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to rescue Sam. When she is wounded by an "other" sniper, she is aided by a mysterious --- and very handsome (of course) --- stranger named Evan Walker (Alex Roe). Together they make their way through the perilous countryside to find Sam.
I did not read Yancey's best-selling book, and although I am growing extremely weary of these teen novels being turned into lengthy productions, "The 5th Wave" is not as bad as I was expecting. In fact, it was relatively painless --- I only looked at my watch five times instead of twenty.
A great deal of the credit goes to Moretz. Even though she is still quite young, she has had an extensive career in action films, such as "Kick-Ass", which I happened to love. She possesses an amazing screen presence, and is one of those young actors you feel compelled to cheer along. The fact that her hair never gets dirty is a tad annoying --- and unrealistic --- but that certainly isn't Moretz's fault.
The two guys, Robinson and Roe, are sufficiently hunky to keep all of the teenage female fans enthralled. Their acting abilities haven't been significantly tested yet, but perhaps the next two (or three?) films will better flesh out their talents. Maria Bellow and Liev Schreiber are also part of the cast, which seems incongruous to their careers, but who knows --- maybe they read and liked "The 5th Wave".
Though dark, and somewhat disturbing, "The 5th Wave" will grab your interest. Whether or not it sustains that interest will depend upon the next installments.
Opinion: Wait for DVD
"The 5th Wave" is a science fiction movie that's part "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" meshed with a PlayStation video war game. While it's easily predictable, and contains several overly long battle scenes (one of our pet peeves with action films), at least the acting is decent.
In a brief opening sequence, we watch a teenage girl named Cassie (Chloë Grace Moretz), armed with an assault rifle, gun down an apparently defenseless wounded man. It looks like the end of the world, with smashed cars toppled onto each other, debris everywhere, and a distinct lack of humans.
Flash back to a point in time where everything appears normal, including Cassie Sullivan flirting with a high school football star, Ben Parish (Nick Robinson). Soon the Sullivan family, dad Oliver (Ron Livingston), mother Lisa (Maggie Siff), Cassie, and her little brother Sam (Zackary Arthur) tune into a TV report of an apparent alien invasion over Ohio. They rush outside and lo and behold, there it is --- the alien spaceship hovering right over their house . What are the odds?
If you can get past this bit of incredulity, the next events feature some scary and well-conceived "natural" disasters, including an earthquake and devastating tsunamis that flood great cities all over the planet. Survivors in Cassie's area are set up in a small campsite, and it's not long before the U.S. army appears, under the direction of Colonel Vosch (Liev Schreiber), who orders all the children onto school buses, separating them from their families for their own safety, according to him. What ensues are predictable fight scenes, the requisite romance between Cassie and her savior Evan Walker (Alex Roe), the search for Cassie's brother, who should have brought his teddy bear onto the bus, and other tedious happenings.
Moretz is in virtually every scene, and the veteran actress, at the tender age of 18, can hold her own in any situation. She already has more than 50 film and TV credits to her name. Clearly she is destined for a very prolific career. As Cassie, she is both vulnerable and brave, a true heroine that young moviegoers can embrace. Joining Moretz in the cast is Maika Monroe as Ringer, a brash fighting machine who takes no lip from anyone. Monroe dazzled horror fans last year in the surprise hit "It Follows".
"The 5th Wave" is based on Rick Yancey's best-selling novel of 2013, but this film will have at least two sequels, as the author has released a second book entitled "The Infinite Sea", and a third, "The Last Star" is in the works. The filmmakers, including director J Blakeson, feel Moretz is a strong enough talent to support a trilogy.
I have a feeling the original novel is much superior to the movie version. . "The 5th Wave" is not a bad effort, it's just not terrifically compelling. Even with the contributions of writers Akiva Goldman (Oscar winner for "A Beautiful Mind") and Susannah Grant (Oscar nominee for "Erin Brockovich"), the movie is just okay.
It's in the same genre as the "Divergent" series, but better acted. Honestly, though, how many average end-of-the-world stories must we endure before someone comes up with a real zinger? And "The 5th Wave" takes itself a bit too seriously. Outside of one amusing line by a minor character, it's all doom-and-gloom with just a dash of hope for humanity.
Opinion: Mild Wait for DVD