The YA bubble has officially burst. Since 2012 we have had a wave of YA fiction movies with varying degrees of success. The first Hunger Games movie was a knock out and then Catching Fire give the franchise even more momentum before it lost its way somewhat in the final two films but still managed to stay entertaining. Then we had The Divergent franchise which for all intents and purposes was a poor man’s Hunger Games and then The Maze Runner series came and the death tolls began to ring. Now we have the 5th Wave, based on a series of books by Rick Yancey the series is based on a group of children who have to survive in a post apocolyptic world that has been invaded by aliens, who as the title suggests, have attacked the world in ‘waves.’
The aliens invade earth and hang above the sky one day (In America of course, because there is nowhere else on the planet) in a District 9 inspired space ship. After doing nothing for 10 days and the Americans unsurprisingly not waging war with them the aliens hit us with the first wave- they wipe out our electricity. After doing this they hit us with their second wave- terrible CGI that drowns everybody. The third wave sees them infect people with illness before they finally invade the earth in the fourth wave. The titular fifth wave is the humans finally fighting back, which they probably should have done after the first wave.
At the center of this is 16 year old Cassie Sullivan, a normal high school girl with the ability to maintain her perfect hair and make up no matter what horrid conditions she is facing. After being orphaned in the attacks she is seperated from her brother thanks to a series of awful contrivances and poor decision making. This leads her on her quest to find him. In the meantime her brother, Sam, along with her teenage Crush, Ben Parish, the aptly nicknamed Zombie are being recruited and trained by the army to fight the aliens. On her mission, Cassie is saved by a mysterious handsome stranger called Evan who tags her along to help her on her quest.
The 5th Wave suffers from all kind of problems- holes in logic aside the film doesn’t have an original bone in its body. The saturation of YA fiction in the last few years means we have become too accustomed too quickly to the tropes of the genre and The 5th Wave feels like YA fiction for dummies. It rattles them all off so quickly and without any sort of finesse that the film falls flat within its opening ten minutes, and does very little to get up from there on in.
Director Jake Liveson, who directed the smart British thriller The Disappearance of Alice Creed in 2009 shows none of the talent that got him noticed in the first place here. His decisions as a director are baffling and the film feels like it was cobbled together to go straight to DVD. It features some of the worst editing and sound mixing seen on a film in quite some time. Like everything else in the movie it is lazy an derivative- failing to carve its own identity in such a crowded field.
Chloe Grace Moretz is a great actress but Jennifer Lawrence she is not. The franchise will be pinning its hope on her as its lead but she really struggles to do anything interesting with this material, she quickly becomes a two dimensional caricature who lacks any of the complexity that Katniss had. Strange also is the decision to cast Jurassic World’s Nick Robinson as one of (yes there’s a love triangle brewing) Cassie’s love interest. The actor is laughable as the brooding heart throb, due to the fact he looks like a moody teenager who has just been told by his mom that his friend can’t stop over this weekend. And if you thought the Gale- Peeta love triangle was a mismatch wait until you see Ben Vs Evan. Alex Roe’s Evan looks like he has been hired straight from the ‘rents some abs’ catalogue and his character is sorts of ridiculous. The only person in this film who looks like she is having any fun is It Follows’ Maiki Monroe as a black haired goth kid with a chip on her shoulder, and still the majority of her exchanges, especially with Nick Robinson become laughable.
The 5th Wave is about as fun as watching cardboard exist. It’s derivative, badly made, badly cast and doesn’t do anything to try and breathe life into the declining YA fiction genre.