The 5th Wave is another of those ‘end of the world’ sci-fi dramas, this being at the behest of aliens, referred to as “The Others”, but I do like all of this sort of nonsense.
Why “The 5th Wave”? Well, the first wave was to take away all our power sources (wot no internet?), then the 2nd was to destroy all towns and cities. The plan for the 3rd is to infect as many people as possible with an airborne bird flu virus; and the 4th is to take over all human bodies still alive. The 5th… is not yet known.
Yes, you get the feeling they only really needed three of them and they’ve just embelished the number required because five sounds good. except when it refers to the boyband “5ive”.
Initiially, Cassie (Chloë Grace Moretz, who came to the fore by saying ‘motherfucker’ in the Kick Ass films when she was still in short trousers – a strong insult from a child being something that worked for a number of people, but which completely passed me by) tells the tale of the waves, in flashback, until her family, including Dad, Oliver (Ron Livingston, from the brilliant Office Space), and brother, Sam (Zackary Arthur), get to the refugee camp where around 300 other people are currently living.
With the army getting stupidly trigger-happy and Cassie getting separated from her brother, as he’s bussed off to a fortified camp, she’s left alone to fend for herself in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, but who can you trust when you can’t trust anyone?
The 5th Wave begins with a great first third that gives a lot of promise in the premise, but the next two-thirds lets it down, partly because it’s full of ideas we’ve seen before and for which nothing new is added. Here are some random observations:
- The army try to turn all the kids into a young army to fight ‘The Others’, but naturally some will rebel.
- Maria Bello plays the cardboard-cutout hard-as-nails lesbian nurse-cum-drill sergeant, while Maika Monroe, as army recruit Ringer, is growly, feisty, has a look of being asexual whilst also giving off a hot vibe.
- Alex Roe, as Evan, has zero personality, so his lack of any emotion could make you think he’s one of ‘the Others’, but no, he’s just dull as ditchwater. Hence, it’s a shame that what starts off well and could’ve been a cool “let the aliens have it!” movie gives way to teenagers looking all wistful and romantic with poor dialogue to match.
- The CGi is a bit ropey. It’s like special FX haven’t progressed since 1998’s Deep Impact, and given how incredible 2012 looked, there’s no excuse for that. Okay, so the budget is severely reduced with this one – $38m compared with $200m, but it’s difficult NOT to make the comparison.
- The cocky dialogue between Ringer and Cassie’s school friend Ben (Jurassic World‘s Nick Robinson) is predictable and could’ve been programmed by a machine.
- All the teenagers-portrayed-mostly-by-early-twentysomethings look like an airbrushed photo.
- Despite all her troubles, Chloë Grace Moretz still manages to cry without shedding any tears.
- People are referred to (even by themselves) as their full name, when in reality, just the first name would be used.
- There are some twists, but nothing to wow you.
- And it doesn’t help when two of the kids are singing crappy Coldplay, either.
The 5th Wave is a 15-certificate as opposed to the US PG-13, which normally equates to a 12-cert over here, but while there’s nothing too strong in this film, it’s like the recent Pride and Prejudice and Zombies where some of the content just takes it over the threshold while, for the majority of the film, it still feels like a 12.
Without giving spoilers, the BBFC’s site confirms that the 15 rating is partly due to “scenes of strong violence, including battle scenes involving children who have been trained to fight as soldiers“, which pretty much sums it up. Yes, when push comes to shove and aliens visit, exceptional measures are called for in life, but it’s still very much a fantasy, like The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 and other young-adult dystopian movies, so if your children are around 12 and you’re wondering whether they can watch this, I’d say it’s fine.
Still, kudos to Sony for not slicing it down to get a 12-cert like a lot of distributors would’ve done, which includes Lionsgate and the first Hunger Games movie. There was probably a lot of pressure on them to do so.
The 5th Wave is the first in a trilogy of books, but while the film took three times its budget in box office receipts, the critical response was poor and, so, Sony have yet to make a decision as to whether to make another film.
As I said, I love an ‘end of the world’-type movie, and there’s some nice ideas, here, but it’s ultimately unfulfilling with a resolution that feels more concerned with setting up a trilogy, and going into the next one, than providing a solid conclusion to this part. It’s a shame, as I really wanted to like this when I first saw the trailer, but oh, what a wasted idea.
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition and you’d be surprised if it was not a top-notch transfer for a brand new film, here getting across all the death and destruction as it wreaks havoc. I watched this on a Panasonic 50″ Plasma TV.
The sound is in DTS HD 5.1 and it lets rip when the aliens’ destruction hits Earth, with some neat split-surround moments. A lot of the rest of the time, it’s in fairly standard dialogue/incidental music territory.
The extras are as follows:
- Deleted/Extended scenes (25:10): 11 of them here. They fill in some backstory, but there’s nothing major that needs to be put back, particularly, as the film already gets across everything it needs to. That said, reinstating the last one would’ve made a nice touch. I’ll wrap a spoiler heading round the reason why, since you should only read it if you’ve seen the film…
- Gag Reel (3:17): Does exactly what it says on the tin.
- Inside The 5th Wave (14:26): One of those behind-the-scenes on-set pieces cut together for Sky Movies et al to slot in between films. It’s the usual ‘clips and chat from the cast and crew’-style making of. What follows is similar puff-pieces.
- Training Squad 53 (5:09): Squad 53 is the name for the team of child soldiers we follow in the film.
- The 5th Wave Survival Guide (2:11): How to survive the apocalyptic conditions.
- Sammy on the Set (6:57): If you’d had enough of that brat in the film, here’s seven more minutes about him.
- Creating A New World (5:58): An interesting look at how to do the special effects on a budget.
- Previews: aka trailers. Thankfully, Sony have put these in the extras, and not before the menu comes up (like a lot of stupid distributors do). The trailers are for Angry Birds, Goosebumps and Concussion.
- Audio commentary: with Chloë Grace Moretz and director J Blakeson.
- Audio description: It describes the film in audio terms.
The menu features the ‘Prologue’ piece of Henry Jackman‘s score from the soundtrack, set against an artist’s image of Cassie and Sam amidst the destruction. There are subtitles and languages in a fair few apiece, all listed at the bottom of the review. Chapters are slightly more than the usual amount you get on most discs. There are 16, whereas a lot of distributors skimp on a mere 12.
Also, Sony have continued to do what they did with The Night Before and also what Lionsgate did to The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2, where the disc has some sort of weird menu system which means that the D-pad buttons on my PS4 can’t control the rewinding and fast-forwarding of Blu-rays. I’d rather it was the other way round, thankyou. They’re not the only studios, but there’s still only a handful that do it. Why is this??
Running time: 112 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures
Released: May 23rd 2016
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (all languages), DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1
Languages: English, German, Spanish, English audio descriptive track
Subtitles: English, German, Polish, Spanish, Turkish
Format: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Panavision)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: J Blakeson
Producers: Lynn Harris, Graham King, Tobey Maguire and Matthew Plouffe
Screenplay: Susannah Grant, Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner (based on the novel by Rick Yancey)
Music: Henry Jackman
Cassie Sullivan: Chloë Grace Moretz
Ben Parish / Zombie: Nick Robinson
Colonel Vosch: Liev Schreiber
Sergeant Reznik: Maria Bello
Ringer: Maika Monroe
Evan Walker: Alex Roe
Sam Sullivan: Zackary Arthur
Teacup: Talitha Bateman
Oompa: Cade Canon Ball
Flintstone: Alex MacNicoll
Poundcake: Nadji Jeter
Tank: Flynn McHugh
Oliver Sullivan: Ron Livingston
Lisa Sullivan: Maggie Siff
Wounded Man with Crucifix: Matthew Zuk
Lizbeth: Gabriela Lopez
Julia: Bailey Borders
Soccer Coach: Dave Maldonado
TV News Anchor: Paul Ryden
White House Spokesman: E Roger Mitchell
Ms. Paulson: Charmin Lee
Jeremy: Parker Wierling
Teary School Kid: Madison Staines
Dumbo: Tony Revolori
Hutchfield: Terry Serpico
Private Parker: Derek Roberts
Bullhorn Soldier: Geoffrey Kennedy
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.