Derivative. So aliens show up to our planet one day. They start attacking our planet over a series of waves, such as a massive EMP blast, flooding, pestilence, and then taking over human bodies and controlling them. For whatever reason, children aren’t susceptible to this, and when they get recruited by the army, they have to save the day and figure out who can be trusted. If the makers of this movie wanted any chance of getting on the YA gravy boat, they should have released this two years ago. With the Hunger Games wrapping up, all of the offshoots are scrambling to complete their stories up with the quickness. With The 5th Wave being released post Mockingjay Part 2, it isn’t the equivalent to being a couple of hours late to a party, it is like arriving on the wrong day of the week.
I bet you the Divergent series is kicking themselves for going with the status quo and splitting their last movie into two parts.
In a way, it’s kind of a shame that this is a series that is going nowhere because at the very least it is trying to do something different. Every other series for this demographic is all about the young and beautiful being oppressed by some rich and powerful overlords, and this one involves aliens which makes it at least a little bit unique. This was a sentiment that I felt when watching, but I realized after the fact that this is water that has been tread in I Am Number Four, so that feeling only goes so far. While this does try to do its own thing, it ultimately ends up being all too similar to everything out there, and more than anything else, my biggest complaint about this is how piecemeal the overall product is. It’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, it’s Independence Day and it’s Ender’s Game, and if you’re at all familiar with movies in general, you’re going to see how liberally this borrows from other superior works.
It’s so close to Ender’s Game that I really just wanted to go back and reread the Orson Scott Card novel.
Much like the superhero genre, the YA market has reached a saturation point, only it is far closer to souring than costumed men fighting. There is a split narrative featured here that doesn’t do any favors, and all it does is highlight how little you care in the other story. There is also a forced love triangle which just feels input into the story because all of these other stories have it. But you know what? After the box office performance on this, there’s no way the next chapter is given the silver screen treatment, because the demand for this has all but disappeared. I wish this felt like a complete story, but much like every YA tale, it is all building up to something bigger; the only series I feel that side steps this is Harry Potter, as it feels like it is giving you a completed chapter every time. The 5th Wave feels like it is saying “you should come back for something bigger” more than anything, which is a let down. Chloë Grace Moretz is decent, but she’s been better, and Nick Robinson is fine, but I could only see him as the kid from Jurassic World. This feels like if Roland Emmerich was given $500,000 to start the next Hunger Games, which is not how I would want my movie to be sold.
The 5th Wave (2016) **
– Critic for Hire