I once heard that films in January serve as a preview of the films for that year. Hopefully the saying is false because if teen sci-fi thriller, “The 5th Wave,” is anything to go by, we will see some major letdowns in 2016. Should we have stopped at the fourth wave, or does this movie finally break the mold of poor teen novel adaptations? Well…no. It is as bad as it looks.
The Plot: Based on the novel by Rick Yancey, the movie follows teenager Cassie Sullivan (Chloë Grace Moretz) as she and her five-year-old brother, Sam, survive various extinction-inducing events carried out by alien invaders known as the Others—original, that name. However, Sam is drafted by the government and accidentally separated from his sister. Desperate, Cassie must now survive a hostile earth, unsure of whom to trust, in order to reunite with her brother, while the Others plan the titular fifth wave, which no will see coming. On paper this may sound like the beginnings of a decent plot, but once the final product is seen, it is just a copy and paste of nearly every teen book adaptation trope ever made. The movie’s first 30 minutes—a series of flashbacks and expositions—is the only good part, and it is not even the real story. From there, the story becomes almost embarrassingly predictable.
The Characters: The characters are even worse that the plot. To be fair, Nick Robinson’s character, Zombie, and most of the supporting cast do a decent job with the roles they are given, but the two decently-portrayed leads, Cassie (Moretz) and Evan Walker (Alex Roe), can easily frustrate moviegoers with their inevitable romantic tension. Evan’s back-story tying into the hackneyed theme of whether one’s origin or the heart determines personal identity and humanity’s willingness to survive, puts the final nail in the coffin, and his character loses all appeal. I will give credit where credit is due: Mortez does a decent job, but poor decisions behind the scenes inhibit her from producing a believable performance.
Final Verdict: The film’s first 30 minutes eased my worry that it would be a bad experience. This worry came back in full force as I was subjected, for lack of a better term, to the rest of the movie and its cringingly obvious mistakes. Curiosity led me to look up the book this movie was based on, in case it held more promise than its adaption. One critique, which caught my eye, stated that the movie “does for aliens what ‘Twilight’ does for vampires.” If that is not good enough reason to not see this film, I have no clue what is.