Movie Review

The 5th Wave

Wave 1: Darkness. Wave 2: Destruction. Wave 3: Infection. Wave 4: Invasion.
The 5th Wave Movie Poster

US Release Date: 01-22-2016

Directed by: J Blakeson


  • Chloe Grace Moretz
  • Cassie Sullivan
  • Nick Robinson
  • Ben Parish / Zombie
  • Alex Roe
  • Evan Walker
  • Liev Schreiber
  • Colonel Vosch
  • Maria Bello
  • Sergeant Reznik
  • Ron Livingston
  • Oliver Sullivan
  • Maggie Siff
  • Lisa Sullivan
  • Zackary Arthur
  • Sam Sullivan
  • Talitha Bateman
  • Teacup
  • Cade Canon Ball
  • Oompa
  • Alex MacNicoll
  • Flintstone
  • Nadji Jeter
  • Poundcake
  • Maika Monroe
  • Ringer
  • Flynn McHugh
  • Tank
Average Stars:
Reviewed on: January 28th, 2016
Alex Roe and Chloe Grace Moretz in The 5th Wave

Alex Roe and Chloe Grace Moretz in The 5th Wave

"The 5th Wave" is a young adult, science fiction novel, by Rick Yancey. It is the first book in a trilogy. Published in 2013, it was a favorite read of Chloe Grace Moretz and she was reportedly an easy sell to star as Cassie, in the film adaptation.

Cassie is your average high school girl. She plays on the soccer team and has a crush on a football player, Ben. She lives with her parents and younger brother, Sam. One day a huge alien ship appears in the sky and like Moses dishing out plagues, the aliens start destroying mankind through a series of attacks, or waves. The first takes out all of the power with a magnetic pulse, the second is tsunamis, the third is disease and the fourth is invasion. Before she knows it, Cassie is alone and on a mission to save her brother from a military base that has recruited kids and teenagers to help fight the Aliens. He just happens to be at the same military base and in the same unit as Ben.She gets some help from Evan, a lonely male model looking country boy, who just happens to have nothing else to do.

With plenty of action, suspense and a potential love triangle, The 5th Wave has lots of things going on even if it all seems like things we have seen many times before in other young adult novels turned into potential movie franchises. To try and make things interesting, there are two plot twists but both are pretty obvious long before they show up.

Many aspects of The 5th Wave are similar to the Insurgent series, Twilight or Ender's Game. The most it seems to take after is The Hunger Games. Seriously, have we not already seen a lead female who learns to kill and fight an oppressive ruling power. Have we not had children forced into battle. Even the death of lots and lots of people has become boring, and a possible love triangle is now as over milked as Kim Kardashian's post pregnancy breasts.

The movie moves along very quickly, which you would think to be a good thing. However, we never get to know Cassie on any level. She thinks Ben is cute. She loves her family. She has a best friend. Then aliens attack and she is suddenly in a post apocalyptic world dealing with new, strange and very mature experiences. We needed more character development to feel for her sudden change in life style.

Here is a girl who had next to no valuable life experiences who is suddenly forced to survive on her own. At one point she is forced to decide whether or not to kill someone. It may have been intended to show her baptism into the harsh world she now finds herself but the movie moves along too quickly to have it mean as much as it is intended to. Likewise, the sex she has seemed to happen too quickly. In the first scene she is too scared to have a real conversation with Ben but after being with Evan, a suspicious stranger, for a few days they do the deed in an abandoned car. Moretz is a fine actress but she needed a couple more moments for Cassie to digest what was happening around her and relay her reactions to the audience. We need to feel some of what she is feeling. As it is, I felt like a cold observer without the least amount of emotional investment.

Box office receipts will determine whether or not the rest of the trilogy will get made but a January release date is certainly not a good sign the studio has much confidence in it.

Reviewed on: March 28th, 2016
Chloë Grace Moretz and Zackary Arthur in The 5th Wave.

Chloë Grace Moretz and Zackary Arthur in The 5th Wave.

Thanks to lowered expectations--often a movie's best friend--I enjoyed The 5th Wave slightly more than Eric. It's definitely derivative of other works, but thanks in large part to its star, Chloë Grace Moretz, it managed to keep my attention and actually make me slightly curious to see the story through to any sequels that might get made.

I agree with Eric that the movie needed more character development.  The filmmakers were obviously in a hurry to set up the end of the world  situation as quickly as possible, and so character depth is kept to a minimum as too much exposition is crammed into the opening half hour. Eric noted the scene of Cassie having sex for the first time, and it's a perfect example of the lack of characterization. Obviously at that point Cassie has gone through a tremendous amount of tragedy. She's witnessed the deaths of family members, the destruction of society as she knows it, and she's even been forced to kill to survive, so it's no wonder that she would be transformed from the innocent young high schooler that she was before the aliens arrived, but the script skims over this transformation, never delving too deeply below the surface. Moretz is a good enough actress that she manages to convey a range of emotion, but despite her best efforts we never learn much about Cassie beyond the skin deep. She's likable, but not clearly defined.

Eric mentioned the inevitable love triangle, but thankfully it's only hinted at in this first movie. We have Twilight to blame for this romantic set up and it's been done to death to the point where it's now a laughable cliche. If you ever needed proof that publishers and production companies stick to a formula this is it. Of the two male corners of the triangle, Nick Robinson as Ben fares the best. Alex Roe as Evan is just a pretty face and a set of well defined abs. His participation in one of the film's plot twists is his only real character trait.

The other plot twist is predictable because it's the only way the plot makes sense. Not that not having a plot make sense has ever stopped Hollywood from producing a movie, but without that twist, many of the things that come before it are completely illogical. Before it was revealed, I was already asking, why would the military be training children, including some very young ones, as soldiers? And the explanation they give for separating the adults from the children doesn't stand up to close scrutiny. Granted, there are still unanswered questions after the plot reveal, but it does go a long way for clearing up some of the seeming inconsistencies that came before it.

Although it was dumped in January and received mostly unfavorable reviews, it's relatively low $38 million budget ensured that it earned a profit when taking its worldwide box office into account. It's yet to be announced if that will be enough for a sequel to be made, but should one wind up on the screen, I'd be curious enough to see it. I won't exactly be rushing to the front of the line, but I'd like to eventually see how it all plays out.

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