Do you know what the world needed? Another young adult sci-fi franchise. Whether The 5th Wave – an adaptation of Rick Yancey’s novel – will follow in the footsteps of the likes of The Hunger Games and Divergent will be down to box office results, but J Blakeson’s directorial efforts join an ever-crowded market. Starring Kick Ass’s Chloë Grace Moretz as heroin Cassie Sullivan, she’s joined by Jurassic World’s Nick Robinson (you know, the pervy kid!) and Liev Schreiber in this extra-terrestrial battle for earth.
So some dastardly aliens (branded ‘The Others’) want to kill all humans and harvest the earth for all its useful resources. Bummer, right? Four waves of attacks – an electromagnetic pulse, killer floods, modified avian flu and inhabited humans – are meant to wipe out the Earth’s population, yet some lucky sods survive. Meet Cassie (Grace Moretz) – a preppy high-schooler, a good older sister with a huge crush on the school’s cool kid, Ben (Robinson). Alive and alone with the aim of tracking down her little brother Sam (Zackary Arthur), she comes into contact with a mysterious stranger Evan (Alex Roe) who helps her on her quest to find Sam as she ventures across dangerous extra-terrestrial infested terrain.
If The Thing and Ender’s Game had a baby, it’d probably look a little something like The 5th Wave. The ‘who’s what?’ element combined with the whole ‘kids as weapons’ idea that floats around in Yancey’s story are interesting-ish concepts that could hold, under the right circumstances and with enough character and heart, some weight amongst the YA crowd.
Imagine it though: the world’s been destroyed following wave after wave of increasingly terrible things, yet the film’s as boring as sin. A lead character – both hero and narrator – played by the same girl who stole the show as a potty-mouthed 11-year-old in 2010’s Kick Ass, is as dull as 3 day old dish water. Crushing over boys and having sexy time with a kind-of-alien hottie in the back of a broken down car, she scowls and plods her way across destitute America with one #teenageissues at a time to contend with.
It reminds me a lot of the first Maze Runner film. You couldn’t find a funny bone with an atomic bomb amongst Wes Ball’s first outing in his dystopian trilogy, yet with a pace, intensity and a cast of impressively dedicated young actors, you had something. With Blakeson’s effort it’s all too dead-between-the-eyes in a spectacle that really, with all the alien shenanigans going off around it, shouldn’t be. Though the introduction of its one shining light, It Follows’ Maika Monroe, an emo-chic alien fighter with a real sassy streak, immediately lifted, oh-so-lightly, The Fifth Wave out of its monotone slumbers.
Given its similarities to Ender’s Game – a far superior film and one, shockingly, that will never see the light of a sequel – you’ve got to hope and pray that this spectacularly undercooked young adult fare doesn’t make its way back to the screens without a big kick up its sluggish butt. It’s never a good sign when you’re cheering for the aliens, but without any tangible human life to cheer for, it becomes increasingly difficult to side with the goodies.