Reviews For The Easily Distracted: The 5th Wave

Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
The 5th Wave

Title: The 5th Wave

Describe This Movie In One Simpsons Quote: "We are merely exchanging long protein strings. If you can think of a simpler way, I'd like to hear it!"

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Two Klingons out of five.

Reviews For The Easily Distracted: The 5th Wave (2)

Brief Plot Synopsis: Alien invasion threatens mankind, complicates burgeoning teenage romance.

Tagline: "Protect your own."

Better Tagline: "Can an alien love? Not counting anal probing, I mean."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Cassie Sullivan (Chloë Grace Moretz) is your typical high school student with typical high interests: soccer, weekend parties and Ben (Nick Robinson), the quarterback of the football team. That's why it's, like, totally not "on fleek"[1] when the "Others" park themselves in orbit and start unleashing various "waves" (1. EMP, 2. tsunami, 3. bird flu, etc) to rid the planet of human beings. When Cassie is separated from her little brother Sammy, she's forced to rely on the mysterious (and hunky) Evan (Alex Roe) to get to the military base he's been taken to. The same base where Ben (now nicknamed "Zombie" for reasons) and other teens are being trained as Earth's last line of defense against the 5th wave: Kardashians. I mean, invasion.

[1] I think the young people enjoy it when I 'get down' verbally.

Critical Analysis: Back in my day (hikes pants up), teen movies were all about sex (and occasionally vampires). Now they all involve banding together to fight oppressive governments and/or aliens in dystopic futures (and occasionally vampires). If I didn't know better, I'd say these YA books are being written by parents who don't want their kids sticking their dicks in shower holes or sleeping with nerds like they  themselves used to.

I'm not editorializing, honest. Because these new teen movies run into a similar problem: repetition. Just as there were only so many ways of watching Eugene's (his name was always Eugene) glasses fog over when he was confronted by bared breasts while Cheap Trick played in the background, so too can you show adolescents learning how to handle small arms and lead a rebellion a finite number of times before checking your watch. And I say this as someone firmly in favor of teaching his daughters combat skills.

The 5th Wave cobbles together elements of so many movies that you can get distracted just picking out the rip-offs, er, "influences." Independence Day (giant alien spaceship), The Day After Tomorrow (tsunami and general destruction), The Hunger Games (all that stylish teen military couture). The Others' hostility is also depressingly familiar, though whether it's a result of their desire to strip-mine the planet for resources or build a hyperspace bypass isn't immediately clear. The byproduct is the same: Kill all humans.

Derivative setup aside, I thought the early, Cassie-centered half wasn't all bad. Moretz is convincing, or at least convincing enough to sell a hoary alien invasion story line. I didn't entirely buy into her picking up an M-16 and hitting the road after the Army Bravehearted all the able-bodied adults, but her apprehension and dread were palpable. Pity they decided to white knight her with the weak-bearded Alex Roe.

Aside: The 5th Wave is also the second tsunami-related movie (after The Impossible) that found me wanting to kick a father in the junk for willingly leaving his kids. Here, Cassie's dad, Oliver (Ron Livingston), follows up giving his daughter a .45 (sensible decision!) with putting her and her young brother on a bus because the nice soldiers said to. This ends predictably, but let's not worry about that now.

Because it isn't really until the movie switches to the analog Ender's Game plot of sending kids out against the aliens that The 5th Wave really starts going over the cliff. Obviously Ben has to be reintroduced to create romantic tension with Cassie and Evan, and obviously there's another female to possibly complicate things (Maika Monroe, warming up for her role in this summer's Independence Day: Resurgence).

Nth verse, same as the first. The effects are old hat and the plot is enough of a Twilight/Hunger Games rip-off that fans of YA at this point should probably start asking for their money back. And I'd be right there with them, if I didn't agree on some base, parental level that all children should be prepared for catastrophe, be it alien, zombie or Trump-related.

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