‘The Fifth Wave’ Review

‘The Fifth Wave’ does more than pack a punch, but it even hits you hard enough to make you realize you’ve seen this sci-fi before.

‘The Fifth Wave’ falls flat.

the fifth wave
Photo courtesy of Steven Zang.

What bridges the gap between the likes of Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games and Divergent? To many, it’s their immense presence as pre-teen fantasy novels in modern pop-culture, digested solely in series-length. However, in the eyes of Hollywood, they’re simply the gifts that keep on giving. Hence, The Fifth Wave, despite its strong attempt at adapted ingenuity, is just another stone in the archway.

The Fifth Wave, based on the acclaimed book series by author Rick Yancey, sounds like something you’ve probably seen before. It’s about a young pre-teen named Cassie who essentially is thrown into a world where aliens, referred to as “Others,” are killing out the human race for their own resourceful benefit. As the aliens plague all existence with “waves” of violent epidemics, Cassie’s parents end up falling victim to the cause at hand, and her brother is forcefully drafted into the army to fight against the Others. Hence, with help from fellow survivor Evan Walker, Cassie goes on an adventure to save her brother before the deadly Fifth Wave strikes.

This sci-fi thriller had many things going for it: strong direction from J. Blakeson, even stronger writing from acclaimed screenwriters Susannah Grant, Avika Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner and high-profile faces such as Chloe Grace Moretz and Nick Robinson. However, the 112-minute rollercoaster-ride felt more like a carousel, building on archetypes and traditional storylines that are practically inescapable nowadays.

“It did have romance, action, thrills and even a hint of comedy,” said Clifton-based film enthusiast/Chloe Grace Moretz expert Jenna Tormey. “Nonetheless, it wasn’t something extraordinary in any way, shape or form. It just felt extra ordinary.”

The sad part? The ending of The Fifth Wave, when the tension begins to hit some sort of unspoiled climax, it just ends. Such a cliff-hanger felt forced and unnecessary, simply so that moviemakers had more material for the endless factory-line of sequels to follow in the next several years. Talk about catharsis, because this film puts money where its mouth is in the most unpleasant way possible.

In the end, The Fifth Wave felt like it was four waves too late to the punch-line. With this recent big-budget craze in pre-teen sentiment, this lackluster film leaves you thinking less about Cassie or her internal struggle to get her brother back than why anyone should even care in the first place. That’s where this movie goes wrong: for the most innovatively-appealing sci-fi event of this winter season, it’s the farthest thing from alien.

The Fifth Wave is playing locally in and around Montclair! Some theaters include AMC Clifton Commons 16, AMC Loews Wayne 14, and even Fabian 8 Cinema in Paterson. For a list of even more theaters and show-times, visit fandango.com today!

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