If you haven’t already figured it out from the spate of films coming out of Hollywood in recent years – teen apocalypse movies are the new black, replacing vampire-centric plot lines everywhere. But when a large number of films regarding the same subject matter all come out in quick succession, you can’t help but draw some comparisons. The 5th Wave, yet another end-of-the-world/teen romance film based on Rick Yancey’s novel of the same name, is unfortunately not one of the standouts of the bunch.
Before the invasion happened, Cassie Sullivan (Chloë Grace Moretz) was a self-confessed “average teenage girl”. She went to high school, she drank at parties, she had a crush on popular boy Ben Parish (Nick Robinson). But when a UFO arrives and starts ominously orbiting the Earth, Cassie’s normal life is destroyed forever. When the spaceship’s alien inhabitants (uninspiringly dubbed as ‘The Others’) start wrecking havoc on the planet, the human race begins to dwindle rapidly, and in the ensuing chaos Cassie is separated from her young brother, Sam (Zackary Arthur), who is taken to a nearby military base for protection. Desperate to find her brother, Cassie must survive the journey through the woods to the base alone – but alone, she does not remain for long.
While the film has a intriguingly dark beginning, as it progresses you quickly come to realise that The 5th Wave is going exactly in the direction you expect it’s going to go in. I had not read the book before seeing the cinematic adaptation, but I probably could have told you the plot just from watching the first half-hour, twists and turns included. There are scenes that are so tragically cliche to the teen apocalypse genre (or just the teen genre for that matter) that you couldn’t help but roll your eyes or – as I found many fellow audience members doing – laugh. There was nothing particularly original or fresh going on here; disappointing considering the book was met with such a positive reception.
Luckily, Chloë Grace Moretz is quite a wonder to watch on screen, and she at least breathes some life into this film. Her versatility is apparent in the wide range of different roles she has undertaken – from playing a badass potty mouth in Kickass, to a child-adventurer in Hugo, to showing off her acting chops in the indie drama film Clouds of Sils Maria. At the tender age of 18, this girl has a very bright future ahead of her.
If you’re looking for an apocolypse film with a lot of punch, then The 5th Wave probably isn’t the movie you’re after. Lacking originality in plot and screenplay, you’re most likely better off going with one of the other dystopian love stories out there – there are a vast many of them!