I’m going to sound like an old coot right now, but here I go: When I was a young fella, young-adult science fiction had some goddamn backbone.
Some of the stuff was actually really good, especially one science-fiction series in particular: We had this alien invasion book series by John Christopher called The Tripods, which our school required us to read. The books focused on some young kids trying to make it in this world while trying to avoid alien control. It was well-written and kind of exciting. I think it’s actually to blame for a lot of the tween bullshit we have to endure now at the cinemas.
If The Tripods series was the prototype for tween science fiction, The 5th Wave is its absolute bastard abomination, at least in its movie form; they share the “teens try to kick some alien asses while going through their social awakening” theme—and little else.
The 5th Wave is based upon the young-adult novel by Rick Yancey, the first in a trilogy. God willing, the other two books will not receive a movie adaptation. Further cinematic installments may cause me to punch myself in the face and thus hurt my standing at the workplace, in social gatherings, etc.
Chloë Grace Moretz plays Cassie Sullivan, a normal teenage girl who drinks beer at parties and drools over high school football player Ben Parish (Nick Robinson); her dad is the guy from Office Space (Ron Livingston). Things go from routine to wacky for Cassie when a big metal spaceship parks over Ohio and starts messing with the human race in “waves.”
The first wave involves an electromagnetic pulse that knocks out all power and renders the PlayStation 4 useless, while the second wave brings earthquakes and tsunamis. The third wave involves plague, while the fourth includes survivors battling aliens who have taken human hosts. The fifth wave … well, that’s a mystery—a mystery you will solve really quickly if you put forth even the slightest mental effort.
The first three waves are actually kind of interesting, although the subpar special effects and meager budget ($38 million, according to IMDb) don’t allow for much elaboration. The waves are finished relatively quickly, and we are left with Cassie running around the forest. She’s captured by dreamy dude Evan Walker (Alex Roe), a character so lame he’ll make you miss Twilight’s Edward Cullen.
The aliens occupy human hosts by crawling in their heads somehow and wrapping around their brains. We never do get to see this actually happen. Had we seen this process, the film might’ve had a decent scene or two. What we do get is a couple of hilariously bad scenes in which we see the aliens in horribly rendered X-rays that make old ’80s Atari games look state-of-the-art. (Yes, picture me in a rocking chair with some hooch.)
Goetz is an interesting young actress, but she makes a lot of bad movies. I haven’t been blown away by one of her movies since Hugo, which came out five years ago. She looks lost here; her bid for her own Twilight or Divergent series is indeed a sad, sad thing.
Liev Schreiber and Maria Bello chime in as military personnel. One of last year’s “It” girls, Maika Monroe of It Follows, plays young alien-resistance recruit Ringer, a goth girl who takes the time to put on eye makeup for the apocalypse. Hey, one has to keep up appearances, right?
As for The Tripods (wait … let me take a sip of my hooch and puff on my pipe), it was made into a failed TV series back in the ’80s, but there has been some buzz about making a new movie from the books. If they do, please keep Chloë Grace Moretz, the girl from It Follows and Taylor Lautner’s abs far away from the project.
The 5th Wave is playing at theaters across the valley.