Turning Young Adult novels into movies is a hype from the last decade. Recently we’ve seen, among others, The Hunger Games trilogy and the Divergent series hitting the big screen. Joining these now is The 5th Wave. The novel was released in 2013 and it’s sequel was published in 2014. For producers this was enough reason to think to themselves that it was time to earn some easy money. Easy money, because The 5th Wave is just a repeat of previous YA stories including a love triangle; a female heroine; and a world divided.
The 5th Wave is the report of an unfriendly alien invasion which is happening in waves. In chronological order these waves are first a widescale EMP that shuts down every bit of technology; second, destruction by means of earthquakes resulting in tsunamis; third, the spread of a highly contagious, altered version of the bird flu; fourth, the aliens walk among humans unrecognizable. The 5th wave, then, is the use of humans against humans. It’s a shame that the only new thing in this YA sci-fi movie is these waves. Other than the attack waves the whole storyline is rather generic and fails to surprise even a single time. Even the waves are brushed over, as they are told by the female lead in a diary style just to give the viewer a quick what’s what. It is all extremely predictable and events you can see coming from miles away happen sooner rather than later.
The heroine is played by Chloë Grace Moretz, whom most of us know from her appearance in Kick-Ass. Moretz really tries in this role, but fails to establish herself as a convincing protagonist. This is not completely her fault though, fact of the matter is that the character is written rather weakly. Much like in Insurgent where Shailene Woodley’s character is overshadowed by the male hero, Four, the male lead in The 5th Wave steals the spotlight from Moretz’s Cassie Sullivan. In fact, Cassie has to compete against two strong male allies: Evan Walker (Alex Roe) and high school crush Ben Parish (Nick Robinson).
Apparently, the novel isn’t halfbad, and it is therefore a shame that director J.Blakeson only took the stereotypical aspects of pretty much every young adult story which resulted in a bland, humdrum story with more than a few plotholes. Plotholes like the army suddenly being able to drive certain vehicles and have a working air force base; this in a way reminds of the tv series Revolution where it is also higher powers who all of a sudden have access to electricity. While in both cases it is explained to a certain extent, as a viewer we are left somewhat in the dark as to how this is possible.
The sequel to the first novel is The Infinite Sea and was published in September 2014. I certainly hope that when an adaptation of this sequel hits theatres it will be less of what producers think the audience wants to see, because this first part is just a ruminated version of Twilight and The Hunger Games.