Review: 'The 5th Wave' fails to find its groove
Chloe Grace Moretz as Cassie Sullivan in a scene from the Columbia Pictures release, ' The 5th Wave.' (Chuck Zlotnick / Sony / Columbia Pictures)
Published Friday, January 22, 2016 6:30AM EST
THE 5th WAVE: 2 STARS
On screen eighteen-year-old Chloë Grace Moretz has moved things with her mind, played a hundred-year-old vampire trapped in the body of a twelve-year-old and as a teenage assassin used words so naughty they’d make a sailor blush.
She’s done it all—even guided loved ones from beyond the grave—but her new movie sees her in her most precarious situation yet.
"The 5th Wave" is a world-under-attack sci fi flick based on Rick Yancey’s young adult novel of the same name. Moretz plays Cassie, a teenaged survivor of four waves of an alien invasion—or "galactic party crashers" as she calls them—that have devastated earth.
"When you’re in high school everything feels like the end of the world," she says. "Curfews, exams. Turns out what we thought was the end of the world wasn’t."
The actual end of the world comes when "the others" invade looking for a new planet to call their own. Their first wave knocked out all of earth’s electricity, the second brought floods and quakes, the third wiped out hundreds of thousands of people with bird flu and the fourth saw the aliens get off their ship.
When Cassie becomes separated from her five-year-old brother Sam (Zackary Arthur) she reluctantly teams with Evan (Alex Roe), a hunky he-man cut from leftover Hemsworth cloth, to rescue her sib from a training camp run by the military. Wily but wary of everyone, Cassie must rely on Evan to help find her sibling before the deadly 5th and final wave hits.
Being that "The 5th Wave" is packed with millennial stars and is rather po-faced about itself I guess it can be categorized as a young adult drama but I’m shying away from adding any other descriptive labels to it. It’s not exactly a science fiction story even though it contains aliens - although we never get much of a look at them - and it can’t rightly be called a romance even though there are moony-eyed stares and a brief make-out scene.
It certainly isn’t an action film even though we witness some of the world’s landmarks get destroyed and Moretz runs and carries a gun at the same time. Also, don’t look to "The 5th Wave" for pulse racing fight scenes as much of the carnage is off-screen, perhaps to protect a teen-friendly rating.
It is a hodge podge of ideas and genres.
It starts off strong with a dark vision of what the end of the world might look like then changes into a portrait of a teenage melodrama with dystopian overtones. The blossoming romance offers up some unintentionally funny scenes, although I wouldn’t call this a comedy either.
Moretz has a way with action roles—think Hit Girl in "Kick-Ass"—so her return to a more physical role is welcome, but as a young adult vehicle it will leave you hungry for another episode of "The Hunger Games."