I wasn’t overly eager to watch The Fifth Wave but there was nothing else of interest showing at my local cinema and the trailer looked mildly appealing. Plus I’m a fan of Chloe Grace Moretz, and so thought the fact that she was the protagonist would automatically ensure its worth. I was wrong.
First of all, the marketing for this film was very, very off. I sat down in my slightly worn, rigid cinema seat with the belief that I would be watching an apocalyptic, alien-invading thriller, and definitely did not expect another cliched teen flick, but no matter how unwanted it was, teen flick I got.
I didn’t just make a general presumption about the film’s genre – the official trailer gives no indication that The Fifth Wave is a less intense alternative to The Hunger Games, and unless I did my research (ain’t nobody got time for that!), I would have remained ignorant of this fact.
Based on Rick Yancey’s eponymous novel (which of course I discovered post viewing),the film adaptation is less about the apocalyptic effects of an alien attack, and more about getting a teddy bear back to its rightful owner.
In my defence, it’s not just my laziness and complete lack of research that are to blame for me wasting two hours of my life, but the film is actually rated a ’15’, which immediately suggests we had another Independence Day, Cloverfield or The Day After Tomorrow on our hands and not just another young love triangle trying to figure out the essence of l’amour while the very real issue of death and destruction fades into the background. The futile love triangle overrides the storyline with real potential (aka the storyline I believed I was watching).
In all seriousness, this is a major flaw from director, J. Blakeman who has massively missed out on targeting the film’s prime audience. The adaptation has, for some unknown reason, high aspirations and by not staying true to its most appropriate market by trying to be too much all at once, it has duped adults into believing it was an entirely different genre all together. And let me tell you, we did not fall for it (well, up until ten minutes in, I did).
From the offset I was waiting for some maturity to kick in but as soon as a teenage party flashed up onto the screen and an awkward conversation between a girl and her ‘crush’ unraveled, I’d given up hope and accepted my fate.
Moretz’s performance was far from Oscar worthy but it was simply ‘okay’. It’s disappointing to see her leading such a poor storyline when at just 18 years old she’s already proved her worth as a top-rate actor. It goes without saying that she’s too good for this role and deserves a lot better.
Blakeman casts Moretz in the most stereotypical teenage girl role imaginable (okay, he tries to tackle this by making her both pretty and a girl scout, because apparently everyone seems to assume that this is impossible). Huge assumptions are made through the character of Cassie (Moretz) and while I’m on the subject, I’d like to throw it out there that yes, teenage girls do find young guys attractive, and yes, some may feel slightly awkward around their crush. But I have never met a teenage girl who would stare longfully at a random stranger’s fully naked body from behind a tree like some role-reversed Peeping Tom.
The premise of the film centres around alien invasion. The mysterious creatures have organised their attack to precision, carrying out a series of ‘waves’, aiming to completely wipe out the human race. However, the fear that the first half of the film begins to generate is not consistent with the second half. Blakeman spends the entire first part blowing up a balloon full of expectation and suspense, and then abruptly pops it as soon as the second half gets underway, leaving me feeling as disappointed as a child (who should have been watching it instead of me).
The first ‘wave’ is the cutting of all power (a world without iPhones – unimaginable!); the second wave is reminiscent of a biblical scene with extreme floods swallowing up most of the land; next up, the fatal avion flu spreads through the human race, leaving only the immune, who haven’t either drowned or lost the will to live from internet withdrawal (seriously, can these guys take much more?); then the poor sods have their trust, hope and bodies attacked as the aliens begin to use the human form as a host without even asking permission first! The fifth wave is a big secret and you’ll have to watch the film to find out. Okay, I won’t subject you to that sort of torture: it’s an unsuspecting army of children who are duped into wiping out the rest of humankind, while believing they are killing the aliens.
The film is at its best (I’ll give it some credit) in the first half, as previously mentioned, when the aliens are still a mysterious force to the viewer, playing on the power of the unknown. The special effects also can’t be faulted, but it also raised the thought: ‘what a waste of money!’
Death and destruction of the modern world is popular at the moment with technology increasing and becoming more complex and uncontrollable. However, ‘alien invasion’ films seem to have died down since the start of the 21st century and so it was interesting to see what Blakeman would bring to the genre. But the far-fetched plot is proof that he tried to be too clever and threw in every element of sci-fi disaster movie that has ever been created: floods, alien invasion, benign hosts, power outage, mass virus, and the list goes on.
This film had so much potential if only it had been left alone as a dystopian science fiction thriller. But unfortunately The Fifth Wave is just a shoddy Maze Runner, Divergent, or Hunger Games, and it’s pretty clear that it is just jumping on the back of the lazy dystopian franchise.
The generic storyline offers nothing new to the genre and once again, a highly potential dystopia is ruined by a cliche love story. Not to mention an annoyingly ridiculous plot such as the lead’s crush miraculously surviving four major attacks to become her little brother’s saviour. Because, despite it having a female as the protagonist, love is naturally her achilles heel and she depends upon two males to help her fulfill her goal.
But not to worry, it ends on a cliffhanger with the promise of more predictable sequels! Yay!