It has been abundantly clear for some time now that ‘young adult’ novels-turned-movies are becoming a heavily oversaturated and overdone thing in Hollywood. Seriously, not EVERY book that sells mildly well has to have a movie adaptation. But alas, sometimes…just sometimes… you catch some lightning in a bottle and a novel actually becomes a good movie. The Hunger Games films are prime examples of this as well as the LoTR series and even theHarry Potter Franchise pumped out some exceptional pieces of cinematic entertainment. But these are exceptions, the select few that did well, not the rule and most other films that fall into this sort of subgenre are just subpar. Which brings me to The 5th Wave…
I, for one, am a big fan of Chloe Grace Moretz and, quite honestly, she basically gets a pass for life from me just because of her role as Hit Girl in the Kickass movies…so there… I said it! Are you happy now? My bias is out there for the world to see! So when I saw she would be in this film I went and picked up the book, just to read it and see what I was getting into. Imagine my surprise when, after reading the novel, I was struck with a feeling of being underwhelmed. The book isn’t bad, it is just not all that great in my opinion. So, naturally, I was a bit worried… after all, if books are generally better than their film counterparts, what sort of film would this movie be considering that its source material was only so-so to begin with? And, while this isn’t the worst book-movie adaptation I have seen, it is certainly not the best either. It has many many many issues in the film in spite of a few solid acting performances.
The human race stands on the brink of extinction as a series of alien attacks decimate the planet, causing earthquakes, tsunamis and disease. Separated from her family, teenager Cassie Sullivan (Chloë Grace Moretz) will do whatever it takes to reunite with her brother Sam (Zackary Arthur). Fate leads her to form an alliance with Evan Walker (Alex Roe), a young man who may be her last hope. Forced to trust each other, Cassie and Evan fight for survival as the invaders prepare a fifth assault.
The biggest problem, by far, for this movie is that it manages to alienate both newcomers who haven’t read the source material as well as people who have. Books tend to have a lot of inner dialogue that gives you insight into what the main characters are thinking and what they are going through. Movies don’t have this luxury so they often have to find ways to portray these inner-issues on-screen. However, the writers of this film chose to, instead, assume that the audience will just naturally infer these things or, if you read the book, you would just know it from that. Seriously, that is how I felt… like they had a meeting and were like, “Hey, should we spend more time on these two characters to show that they are bonding enough for this dude to car enough to risk his life and save him?” to which the writers replied, “nah…most of the people seeing this movie read the book, so they know what the two guys went through…no need!” Granted, I know this didn’t actually happen, but it might as well have since the film didn’t really do a great job of building relationships AT ALL and we, the audience, were left to assume certain emotional ties and connections rather than see them unfold on-screen.
The pacing of the movie was also fairly abysmal considering the amount of material that could have used in the movie… most of the character building scenes in the book were barely glossed over in the movie– many were skipped entirely. And again, keep in mind that the book was only ‘meh’ as it is, you need to keep the best stuff about it IN THE FRIGGIN MOVIE, but that is just my opinion anyways… The pacing felt jacked up to me simply due to the fact that the movie is exploring two story lines. One if Cassie Sullivan’s character as she attempts to free her brother from an alien-controlled camp as well as Ben Parishe’s journey as a soldier in said camp. because you have to focus on both, neither is given the attention they deserve and while both could have been interesting standalone movies, we only get two barely passable half-movies.
Although, from what I saw of Cassie’s dalliance with her love-interest, I would have strongly disliked a standalone movie with just those two as the mushy parts were just so god-awful. Mortez’s acting is one thing, every like Evann Walker uttered was just so cliché and eye-roll worthy. The whole love thing, while rushed, felt forced and cheesy to me in the film and, honestly, it made me want to barf at times. I get what they were going for but I am not sure if Alex Roe was the right man to pull it off or if it was just a horrendous script… My money is on both?
The last negative thing I will say is that Maria Bello was creepy as all fuck in this film. I mean that. She plays Sargent Reznik in the film and it appears that her main job is inducting new recruits and keeping the young soldiers in line. But she seriously gave off some pedo-vibes in the movie whenever she was talking to a new recruit about WHY they were recruited. Getting all close, practically sniffing their hair, whispering softly to them… all she was missing was a white van full of candy… seriously… it was weird.
But this film wasn’t all bad, as my words of hate above might suggest, a good portion of the acting was actually fairly solid in this film. Again, Moretz did a solid job in spite of an odd script, but also Nick Robinson, who played Ben Parish was a pretty likable character. Additionally, the main camp’s villain, Colonel Vosch (Liever Schreber) was able to pull off a rather charismatic villain even with his lack of screen time. He should have been given way more as their anchor bad-guy but from what I did see, solid work!
The beginning of the film was done extremely well, when Cassie is explaining the first 4 waves and what that did to humanity, the visuals were really well done and the disasters that it showed were very interesting and fun to watch on-screen. Seriously, that should have been your movie– the first four waves looke interesting as fuck… but we get the 5th wave… and overly convoluted attack plan by extremely superior aliens that apparently just do not want to get their hands dirty. Ther first 4 waves could honestly be a book or movie by themselves and they might have been better given the amount of characters you can introduce and the compelling way in which they struggle, in vain, to survive. Oh well– still cool to see– I just wanted MORE of it.
If this movie does well enough for an installment, one thing it has going for it is the fact that the scope of THIS film was extremely small. Really the only thing accomplished by the end of the movie is that the main characters manage to save ONE little boy from a base full of them. At the end of the movie they resolve to “free them all” so that could lead to some epic-scale battles as well as a lot of interesting characters being introduced so, who knows, could be a good time. The Divergent series went from trash to passable with their second film so maybe The 5th Wave can go from passable to awesome in one swing?
So if you are wondering whether or not you should see the film, the answer is ‘yeah sure’. But don’t go in thinking you will get an amazing cinematic experience. It has some good parts, but a lot of bad to go along with it. If your local theater does a $5 night, maybe go see it then? Or just wait for it to be available for streaming or redbox… why the hell not.
Here is my video review of The 5th Wave!