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The 5th Wave: Five waves, 105 incomplete plot lines

By Shannon Williams
Fri 15 Jan 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

You know it’s bad when you apologise to your friends halfway through a movie for dragging them along. And you know it’s double bad when you get banned from choosing movies by the time the credits roll.

That’s what happened to me last night when I made my friends go see the 5th Wave. I sold it pretty well: Aliens. End of the world. Hot blonde chick. They’re blokes so that description got their interest peaked enough to agree to come along.

If I had described it correctly – aliens you never get to see, a child army, hot blonde chick in teen-romance Twilight-esq love triangle, they probably wouldn’t have been as eager.

Adapted from Rick Yancey’s 2013 novel, The 5th Wave stars Chloe Grace Moretz as Cassie, a high school teenager left alone and on the run after aliens destroy the planet.

Yup. You got it. Another young girl with the weight of the world on her shoulders set to defy all odds, yet still has enough time to shave her legs, wash her hair and have a bit of a canoodling session in the car.

The first half of the movie is told via voiceover by Cassie, who takes us through the last ‘normal’ day of her life that sees her return home from a party where she makes love eyes at Boy A, check in with her doting parents, and sing her little brother to sleep.

Oh no. She has such a perfect life and such perfect hair it’s not fair the aliens are going to ruin it all.

Okay, the first twenty minutes of the film aren’t actually that bad. It was quite promising. The film opens with Cassie going into an abandoned store with a gun as she scavenges for water and food. She has dirt on her face and not a trace of lip gloss. She kills some unlucky injured dude because she thinks he’s an alien but turns out he’s not and then she’s all Girl Interrupted for a few minutes.

After Cassie takes us back to her perfect life, we are quickly shown the first four ‘waves’ that led Cassie to shooting some guy in the back of a shop: an electromagnetic pulse that wipes out all the cars, telecommunications and electricity; a massive Tsunami that wipes out every coastal town across the planet; some crazy bird-flu plague that took basically everyone else out; then finally ground patrol by Aliens Dressed As Humans tasked with hunting any remaining survivors.

The waves were neat little tricks the aliens (who hover over the town Independence Day style) employed to rid Earth of the human race. Luckily, Cassie and her little bro survive all of it - but they get separated, making way for the rest of the film.

This is where the film fell short. It was like the director wanted to get the apocalypse parts (as in the good parts) out of the way to make way for the more boring parts about finding her brother and weird half alien romances (yep that happens). The first four waves were over just like that, told in quick succession, with a nicely wrapped summary told by Cassie. Oh. And the CGI was probably some of the worst I had ever seen; it was like Deep Impact, except that level of CGI was acceptable in 1998.

Here’s the thing: Chloe Grace Moretz is a good actress. This was just a shitty script. I haven’t read the book, but I imagine it went into far more detail about the different waves than the movie did so it was actually interesting and you cared a bit more about the characters.

And I know no one wants to see a dirty unkempt girl with armpit hair fall in love while fighting for humanity, but really. For once I’d like to see one of these end of the world teen flicks be lead by a strong female character who doesn’t care enough to pluck her eye brows.

The film ended in a way that a trilogy is likely. God help us all. I'll probably still watch them though, let's be honest. 

2/5

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