It saddens me to write this review. I enjoy the work of Chloe Grace Moretz, and I know that this movie is nowhere even close to her fault. I'm not blaming J. Blakeson, the director. Hell, I'm not even blaming Susannah Grant, the main writer on the film whose credits include Erin Brockovich, 28 Days, and Ever After. No, I'm blaming Sony Pictures for this one (Columbia Pictures, a subsidiary of Sony, distributed the film) and whoever was over at the studio giving notes on this one, thinking that they could try and make the mess that is The Fifth Wave in order to jump on the "dystopian-film-based-off-of-a-novel-turned-into-a-four-part-trilogy-so-we-can-make-a-shitload-of-money-off-of-teenagers" fad. Don't try and hide it, Sony: there is absolutely no coincidence that the marketing of the film looked nearly identical to that of the Divergent series.
The fact this movie was originally filmed in 2014 and wrapped within three months, only to have the release date sent for January of the NEXT year isn't exactly the greatest sign. To me, it looks like sloppy planning on Sony's part.
The film, based off of the first book of the same name in a trilogy written by Rick Yancey, follows the path of 16-year old Cassie Sullivan (played by Chloe Grace Moretz) as she navigates her way through a post-apocalyptic Earth overtaken by The Others, an alien race that even by the end of the movie, we still really know nothing about other than the fact that they want to wipe out the population of the planet (don't worry, this will be revealed in the second movie, because they will still make one). Their motivation for doing so is completely unknown, and a bit aggravating.
The Others hit the Earth in a number of "waves", in an effort to wipe out the population. The first is a technological blackout (cars start working, power goes out everywhere, etc.) The second wipes out coastal cities with tsunamis all over the world. The third is considered biological warfare. The fourth comes when the humans find out that The Others can infiltrate human bodies and control them. They discover that "infected" snipers are placed in the woods to wipe out any survivors.
At this point in time, Cassie, her father, and her little brother make their way to a safe camp until, huzzah! The U.S. military show up to save them! But their cars are working? I thought power was out! (Seriously, it's insulting to the viewer that we have to wait until the very end of the film to learn the "twist" that everyone already knew after that moment.) In a twist of fate, Cassie becomes separated from her little brother and has to do everything that she can to get back to him.
In a separate plot line, we follow Ben Parish (Nick Robinson), the boy that Cassie had a crush on in high school, as he goes on to become a leader of an army team made up solely of children and teenagers. I know people who have read the book, and according to them, the whole story plays out brilliantly on paper. In this type of movie, it seems like a really forced attempt to make this film as close to The Hunger Games as it can possibly get. Robinson does a fine job with the material, as do his co-stars, but the story just doesn't hit on the big screen the way that it should.
While all of this is happening, without giving away any major spoilers here, Cassie meets Evan Walker (Alex Roe), and here is where my major problem with the film comes in. I don't mind that Moretz' character has a love interest. I've never minded it in any film, and I'm actually a sucker for a good love story (hopeless romantic here). But the character of Evan is played SO much like an over-exaggerated, over-CGI'ed Twilight spin-off that it's almost painful to watch. Roe's dialogue is so corny, it's almost as if the studio took every line, placed it as a template in the film's script after the final draft was turned in so that there could be a romance element, and didn't even bother to change the template lines.
Here's the underlying problem: The Fifth Wave tries too hard to be too many different movies at once, and it doesn't know what it wants to be. At one moment, it's a romantic film! At another, it's a dystopian action/sci-fi film! Next moment, it's a heart-wrenching drama! I've seen films with elements of multiple genres like this pulled off in a fantastic fashion, and unfortunately this one doesn't fall into that category. It really is a shame.
Maybe, given the fact that the film didn't even crack the top five in the domestic box office this weekend, Sony will take a step back, realize that they DO have good source material and make something salvageable with the story's sequel, The Infinite Sea.
The Fifth Wave is playing in theaters now. For ticketing, box office, and show time information, visit www.fandango.com
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