(Note: This review contains spoilers)
So I saw the new YA adaptation The 5th Wave and, as you might have guessed, it was pretty much a piece of garbage.
I realized, about five minutes in, when a character described aliens as ‘galactic party crashers’ that I needed to seriously reevaluate my life choices.
So you may be wondering; why even see it then? Well, because I have Moviepass and can see whatever and I wanted to write a review for it. I thought it had the potential to either be a decent sci fi film or be unintentionally hilarious and it was nothing. This movie was just shy of two hours but felt longer than the supercut of both Godfather films that’s currently running on HBO. Somehow they took two hours and crammed it with nothing but low budget schlock and YA cliche’s and pulled it off without the slightest hint of self awareness of irony in a way that almost felt commendable.
What I wasn’t expecting is that this fim would feel as though it had such potential to feel like genuinely good sci fi. It borrows elements from such films as Invasion of the Body Snatchers, They Live, and The Thing. The idea of a version of The Thing on a global scale, creating pandemonium that the true threat never could is a great idea and it’s completely wasted on awful characters and a terrible script.
The major problem with this film is its lack of world building or any reason for us to care as to what’s going on. It spends – no sarcasm here – less than ten minutes building up to the fourth wave, followed by an incredibly dragged out hour and fifty minutes of awful romance, terrible action sequences and just general boring nonsense that comes off as incredibly forced and cringe worthy.
You want some examples of worldbuilding in this movie? Well, for the first wave (loss of electricity) we see our main characters (I saw the film 30 minutes ago and I forgot her name) Sony Ericsson phone lose power, followed by a poorly animated plane crash blowing up a few cars. That’s it. For the second wave (earthquakes) we see our main character and her little brother filling up bottles of water in a river get suddenly attacked by an earthquake that sends them up a tree to escape a rush of water. That’s all. For wave three (disease) we see a football field full of bodybags and a scene where our main cha- okay from here on out I’m just calling her Hit Girl because that’s all I remember her by.
So Hit Girl goes to try and help her mom, who tells her to leave.
That’s the entirety of her screentime, about 8 seconds or so.
The next scene is her very dramatic funeral scene for the character that we hadn’t even seen the face of and had been exposed to for less than a minute. So excuse me for not getting teary eyed over this.
All of these sound petty, but they really set the scene (no pun intended) for a really poor film – the tone of the beginning is completely off (going from Hit Girl accidentally shooting an innocent person to a party scene to the end of the world in about 7 and 1/2 minutes) to the totally bizarre introduction of the apocalypse that felt like the filmmakers were so desperate to get to the main plot that they completely forgot about setting up anything to make us care.
When you’re intended to care about a character, it can help if the first thing we see isn’t her killing an innocent person. This is yet another example of what happens when a book is adapted poorly into a screenplay – too many things are confusing or poorly explained, and the flow is completely different. In a book, this might’ve worked, but you need to change the screenplay so that it fits to a completely different medium of storytelling.
It’s a screenplay. Not a paperplay.
So then we begin our main plot, which essentially boils down to Hit Girl trying to get across the country to find her little brother who’s been enlisted to fight against the aliens. About ten minutes into this astoundingly uninteresting journey, she is shot in the leg and then attempts to fight back by getting into plain sight, firing a pistol blindly a few times and falling down a hill.
Needless to say, the aliens quickly retreat and all conflict is over, ending the film at the 35 minutes mark.
Man I wish that were true. Anyway, Hit Girl, who was 17 at the time of filming, falls in love with a guy who was 25 while they were filming. Just wanted to point that out in case anyone wasn’t creeped out enough already. After a few fight sequences and romantic moments between this 17 year old and this 25 year old, we learn the horrifying reveal that….wait for it…he was a half human half alien sleeper agent who couldn’t feel love until he met her.
After that reveal, I don’t really remember what happened. I just remember that I started violently convulsing and foaming at the mouth, my eyes shooting rapidly back and forth and my throat releasing some kind of involuntary sound that resembled a cross between Godzilla and Roseanne Barr’s rendition of the National Anthem. I came to around 15 minutes later with the taste of blood in my mouth and some sort of half-consumed animal carcass laying next to me.
Anyway, that’s why I’m not allowed at that theater anymore.
So then we get to the one scene in the film that doesn’t feel like horribly written schlock, and it’s probably the shortest scene in the film coincidentally enough. Essentially, this squad of children and teens go into battle with a visor that can detect if a human is actually human or an alien under disguise. How they know if someone isn’t human is that a comically awful looking green skull will be placed over there’s, which results in it looking like a video game from 1996. However, there is a semi decent twist in which a character removes their government-military tracker and shows up as an alien to everyone else, raising tensions and almost resulting in her death. They soon begin to realize that everyone without trackers is designed to look like an alien, and that the aliens are actually controlling the military. This begins the climax of the film.
So Hit Girl and Uninspired Man go back to the military base to save Hit Girl’s little brother, while half human guy secretly followed her (despite her telling him not to) and then explicitly stating that he has placed bombs all around the facility and they are going to go off in ten minutes. After he runs away, Uninspired Man says; “I think he’s gonna blow this place up!” He may have gotten this idea after he specifically and explicitly stated his plans to detonate explosives in the building that they were talking about, but I guess he should’ve made that a little clearer.
The 5th Wave is a movie that should be viewed on an airplane, and nowhere else. Because there’s no reason for this film to exist. It’s just two hours of awful CGI, terrible dialogue, a predictable love triangle, a young teenage girl fighting against an evil government to save her younger sibling and a post apocalyptic near-future America. Sound familiar? If you’re a fan of such movies and have recently suffered memory loss caused by a head injury, than you’re the perfect audience for this film. However if you’re anyone else, than I would say stay away at all costs.