The 5th Wave (2016) Review

One from the to watch pile…
The 5th Wave (2015)

Film: The 5th Wave is a film based on the, to date, as yet unfinished teen-aimed trilogy written by Rick Yancey. The film’s screenplay was written by Akiva Goldsman, Susanna Grant and Jeff Pinker, and directed by J Blakeson, who wrote The Descent Part 2 and The Disappearance of Alice Creed, which was also his directorial debut.

The 5th Wave tells the story of Cassie (Chloe Grace Moretz) and her experiences during an invasion by an alien race who have obviously done their research on the planet. 

Cassie is just a normal school girl, living at home with her Mum (Maggie Siff), Dad (Ron Livingston) and brother Sammy (Zackary Arthur) when an alien invasion happens and the family ends up separated. The parents meet an untimely demise, and the kids are separated. Sammy ends up with an army regiment who are training children to fight the aliens; here he meets up with Zombie (Nick Robinson), the leader of Squad 53 (and also ex-schoolmate of Cassie), Ringer (Maika Monroe, almost unrecognisable actor from It Follows) and others.

Meanwhile, Cassie is desperate to find her brother, and after being shot, is helped by Evan (Alex Roe), a farmer who seems to be a little more well trained than he should be. The two of them set off to find him, and soon find themselves involved with all sorts of trouble with Squad 53 and their fight against the alien incursion.

So, what’s it like? Well, it’s aimed directly at teenaged girls between 14 and 19, and whilst attempts to tell a hard hitting story, the elements to do with young romance, alienation and protection of one’s family that can be found in novels like the Twilight series and the Divergent series, water it down and ‘soap opera’ it far too much for it to be taken too seriously.

It does want to be taken seriously though, and there is very little levity (actually, after the invasion there is one moment of comedy that is more out of place than a Trekkie in a slave Leia bikini) and with the teen romance angle slipping in, it’s hard to do humour without losing credibility. The interesting thing though is it attempts to butch itself up by slipping in elements, and I kid you not, of Starship Troopers, and at a pinch, I’d suggest it may want to be Invasion of the Body Snatchers as well.

As with all of these teen films, it is the first of a trilogy (although if history is anything to go by, the last film will be multiple parts in its attempt to tie up loose ends), so there is a distinct feeling of untied plot strings.

It does, however, present itself very well. The film looks fantastic, is entertaining and the cast are likeable enough, but any adult who has watched more than two ‘earth invasion’ films will not find much original here.

Score: ***

Format: A modern day film on a digital format looks as one would expect: pristine. This Australian multi-region release of the film runs for 1 hour and 52 minutes and is presented in 16:9 widescreen with a DTS-HD Master audio 5.1 soundtrack. It also comes with a Digital Ultraviolet digital download. 

Score: *****

Extras: Big bunch of extras on this disc.

A commentary by Blakeson and Moretz who talk over each other a bit, but essentially provide a thorough film commentary experience.

Deleted scenes is what you would expect it would be. Nothing that will really be missed but there are a couple of set-ups that still have the pay-offs in the film, which never seemed out of place… Well, until now that I have seen the set-up. The real shame is Maria Bello’s cruel taskmaster didn’t end up getting some amazing scenes in the film.

There is a typical Gag Reel with amusing mistakes and hijinks.

Inside The 5th Wave is your typical, made-for-home-video making of piece. It’s not an intensive, in depth look at filmmaking, but some of the brief looks at behind the scenes stuff is pretty cool.

Training Squad 53 shows us how the young actors were trained to become Squad 53. It’s funny to watch young actors take on this sort of training as they really take to it as an adventure. 

The 5th Wave Survival Guide is a bunch of generic survival tips from the cast. This piece looks like an MTV interstitial or some such.

Sammy on the Set follows actor Zackary Arthur as he learns about filmmaking from the crew. It’s a nice easy to understand breakdown of what function each crew member performs on the set. If you have a young budding filmmaker in the family, this could be a good extra for them to watch.

Creating A New World is an special effects piece looking at the design of the slow degradation of the planet as the aliens start to pull everything apart, both from a CGI and practical effects point of view.

It says ‘Previews’ but it should say ‘Preview’ and it’s for the Angry Birds Movie, which is also how the disc opens, so…why?

Score: ****

WISIA: It’s a well shot and engaging film, but is obviously aimed at a teen market, which means it’s longevity will be dubious. It’s really aimed at the Hunger Games/ Maze Runner fans, so it’s good entry level scifi if you are trying to get your 16 year old daughter to watch stuff from your movie collection, but as an adult, you probably won’t watch it twice.

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