The 5th Wave (2016)

The 5th Wave is yet another dreary Young Adult adaptation, with characters who aren’t characters and a plot that seems to happen as two separate stories, linked only by chance and circumstance. One involves aliens and a last-ditch effort from the humans to try and salvage their barren planet, the other is a silly romance that surprisingly finds the time to blossom amidst all the destruction and loss of life. Not even all-out genocide can supplant raging hormones.

Chloë Grace Moretz plays Cassie Sullivan, on the school soccer team, infatuated with the handsome football jock, chummy with her family. All-round nice girl. One day a news report flashes across the television, warning of a massive unidentified flying object moving swiftly across the United States, from Vermont to California. The object is visibly moving on the weather map, which means it’s travelling at approximately 1,000km/h, yet when Cassie dashes outside and looks up at the sky the UFO is there, hovering like a cloud. Either the TV station made a mistake with their report, or the CGI team couldn’t wait a scene longer to unveil their cosmic creation.

No matter. It is revealed the aliens need planet Earth for reasons never mentioned, but they can do without the humans, so they plan to exterminate the entire population in waves. I think there are five. I may be wrong.

The first few are pretty basic. Nothing too drastic. Giant tidal waves that flatten skyscrapers (and London Bridge for some reason). A deadly disease that penetrates the survivors. Earthquakes. All that jazz. Billions of people die, including Cassie’s mother (Maggie Siff), who was a nurse helping out at the disease centre. Cassie’s dad (Ron Livingston) decides it’s time to move on. So he takes his children to a refugee camp out in the woods. Then the army arrives to ferry them all away, and we’re faced with the difficult situation of determining if the soldiers are real humans fighting on the side of good, or aliens using human bodies as hosts. My dear reader, your life does not depend on you reaching a decision.

In all the mayhem, Cassie is separated from her dad and brother (Zackary Arthur) and must brave the wily American woods by herself. It is about this time that she’s shot, incapacitated, and awakes to find the neatly chiseled face of Evan Walker (Alex Roe) glaring over her. What luck! I lose my mother, father and brother, the entire world is falling apart, and the universe dumps me in the bed of this hunk! Indeed, the universe is so kind that days later Cassie is treated to a topless Evan bathing in the nearby lake. They share many of those eye-locking moments and eventually break their shackles by doing it in the backseat of a broken-down car parked conveniently in the middle of the forest. All this happens while the fight for human survival wages on not a hundred miles away.

So daft is the plot of this movie (or movies) that I actually drifted away and became interested in finding out more about these aliens, which the humans have conveniently dubbed The Others, probably as a reference to that Nicole Kidman horror movie. I didn’t worry for Cassie or any of the other characters because I knew they’d come out of everything alive. But what are these extra-terrestrials? Why do they look like something out of Alien (1979), only less impressive? If that’s really what they look like, how are they able to steer their massive mothership? And what in heaven’s name can they possibly need the Earth for? I guess we’ll find out in the sequels. I think by then the aliens would’ve figured out that wave number five proved ineffectual. Time to move on to waves six, seven, eight and beyond.

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