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The 5th Wave
The 5th Wave movie poster

The 5th Wave Movie Review

Now available on Blu-ray and DVD (Buy on Amazon)

Pesky aliens have struck again, this time in young adult format. The 5th Wave is like Independence Day, only without Will Smith, a budget, and exciting battle scenes. But what it lacks in flash it makes up for with teen angst. A lot of teen angst.

The aliens in The 5th Wave like to play it close to the vest, and they like to torment the humans they’ve come to conquer. In a series of unconventional attacks--or waves--they wipe out much of humankind, leaving the survivors to fend for themselves. But when the humans learn that the aliens can possess people, the fifth wave seems imminent.

The story isn’t terrible, even if we’ve seen it all before in some way, shape or form. And Chloe Grace Moretz is pretty decent in the lead, even though her hair and face stay perfect despite sleeping multiple nights in the forest and living for presumably months in a world with no electricity or running water. For a while, the movie holds its own, defying expectations as a solidly entertaining sci-fi thriller.

And then Alex Roe shows up.

Fucking Alex Roe.

Just when you think The 5th Wave is going to be better than your average apocalyptic young adult flick, just when you think you have a decent sci-fi picture on your hands, Moretz’s character wakes up in a bed, her wounds nursed by the perfect-looking-why-is-he-in-this-movie-he-doesn’t-fit-at-all Alex Roe. It’s not really Roe’s fault that the movie goes downhill at the very moment emerges, even though he’s really not good at all. The screenplay suddenly veers into full-on young adult awfulness, and everyone is sucked down with it. Everyone gets worse, including Moretz. The dialogue gets cheesier. The story gets dumber. The movie is laughably bad in parts.

The 5th Wave does offer up a twist that would be halfway decent if it weren’t so predictable, but I give the film, based on the novel by Rick Yancey, props for trying. Sadly, the movie just never recovers from its young adult silliness, marred further by a lackluster climax that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense (how does what’s his name plant all those bombs so quickly? How come the ground completely explodes? Why are the aliens putting so much effort into doing things the hard way?).

As it stands, The 5th Wave is entertaining enough, even if it becomes increasingly stupid as it goes along. But had the movie handled some of the romantic stuff a little better, with a little more nuance and believability, The 5th Wave could have been something. Instead, it has to settle for being a cheap Saturday night rental. And pesky aliens don’t like being relegated to cheap Saturday night rentals.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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