The 5th Wave

THE 5TH WAVE by Rick Yancey is an exceptional young adult post apocalyptic book, it’s as good as THE HUNGER GAMES and on par to a THE WALKING DEAD post apocalyptic planet, except no zombies, just aliens. I couldn’t put it down and have the second book lined up to read but not until I got to see the movie, it was about three years ago I read the first book and thought this was ideal so as to not taint my thoughts on the movie. THE 5TH WAVE released today in cinemas from the peeps at Sony Pictures Australia. It is rated M and runs for 112mins.


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THE 5TH WAVE is a pastiche of other science fiction post apocalyptic movies. We have the silent alien invasion from INDEPENDENCE DAY where the ship just appears and sits there, can take this from DISTRICT 9 also, we have the face hugging parasites reminiscent of ALIEN and we have the annihilation desires of WAR OF THE WORLDS but this is a young adult story so it is for the kids to save or destroy the planet. Imagine if THE HUNGER GAMES and MAZE RUNNER had an Alien movie relative that had some soppy TWILIGHT romance……I give you THE 5TH WAVE.

The title explains the waves the aliens have used to destroy the people of planet earth, the 1st wave was darkness, the second wave was destruction, the third wave infection and the 4th wave was invasion. It started with a giant alien ship orbiting the earth, the power was then turned off, a while later they set the earth to disaster with tidal waves wiping out most of the coasts. Following this they used the birds of the planet to spread an adjusted avian flu that wiped out billions more and following this the aliens personally invaded to wipe out the remainder, the problem is that the aliens look human so cannot be told apart, the invasion has been planned for decades and besides the extra skills there is limited difference to humans.

Following the 4th wave the military appears out of nowehere back in action and start corralling all children that are left alive into a military base to train them as weapons of alien destruction. Cassie Sullivan (Chloë Grace Moretz) is separated from her young brother Sam (Zackary Arthur) after their father is murdered and sets out to find her brother at the military base. On her journey she is shot and wounded but wakes up saved and patched up by uber hottie Evan Walker (Alex Roe), when she is healed they join forces and head out to find Sam.


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But of course, not everything and everyone is who they seem………

As a comparison to the book I think it worked well, it generally follows the same major plot points unlike MAZE RUNNER, the characters are mostly acceptable although I found it strange the “Asian” Ringer character is now a goth white chick in Maika Munroe, she will soon be going on to another alien battle in INDEPENDENCE DAY 2. She is good as the character but why change her nationality? It’s not any racism I can see, there is other nationalities represetned (although not many) – Tony Revolori (THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, DOPE, UMRIKA) plays the character Dumbo (it is due to his abundant intelligence I think). Also odd that Sergeant Reznik appears to have lost his testicles and grown some boobs and is now a female character in a very ballsey Mad Max-esque with make-up looking character played by Maria Bello (PRISONERS, GROWN UPS). The military base and the redneck camp all look exactly as I imagined them but Cassie Sullivan’s fight for survival at the camp is missing from the movie, she simply runs away unseen.


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The movie fails on quite a few disappointing fronts unfortunately. Oddly, I will just get this out of the way, I did not like Chloë Grace Moretz in this role, or as the Dymocks representative who gave the introduction speaches last night called her, Chloë Grace Mortez – with an emphasis on the MORTEZ, a few of the audience laughed but by the time she had said it three times at the movie premiere a few audience critics were guffawing to the negative, I may even have said the correct pronunciation loudly as she walked past me on the way out :). But as for Moretz I found her too girly and quite irritating with unbelievable delivery of a few lines. For this role we needed some Katniss, and not all Young Adult heroines can be multi Golden Globe winning actors but Moretz can do better and I didn’t buy what she sold in this one. 

Secondly, Alex Roe as Evan Walker; incredibly gorgeous, I mean get me to a cold shower gorgeous but his last dialogue in the movie is just appalling, I can’t blame Roe though, the director and the script I would consider slapping. It is this hero-like Edward from TWILIGHT explanation that yep includes the most ridiculous kiss in the history of ridiculous young adult romantic kisses onscreen that half the audience just burst into laughter, building’s blowing up, people chasing them, them trying to find Sam in the chaos and they have this romantic kiss #vomit. I love the Evan Walker character, his fighting is incredible and he has a great story to his character but the film makers have decided upon a TWILIGHT love triangle with Walker, Sullivan and my favourite character, #teamzombie Ben Parish.


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Ben Parish aka Zombie (Nick Robinson from JURASSIC WORLD, THE KINGS OF SUMMER) is a guy who went to school with Cassie who Cassie had a massive crush on but nothing eventuated, because…. you know, apocalypse and all that got in the way. Cassie assumed he was dead. He ends up in the same squad with Cassie’s brother and looks after him in an older brother kind of way. Him and Cassie run into each other in the military base while they are both running to find and rescue Sam.

Then there is all the baddies aka the aliens, don’t want to give any spoilers away and tell you who they are but they are completely two dimensional cliched characters that really have limited evil alien about them. “We don’t hate you, you are just in the way of what we want” blah blah blah. The aliens had potential, seeing the face-hugger like things on them was a step in the right direction but an evil alien race has no need to explain itself, it just is, if it is annihilating an entire planet why does it have the need to explain itself to one mere human character?

The final thing that disappoints is that in a world with so many young adult post apocalyptic stories you have got to be good and raise the bar, you need to bring your A-game and THE HUNGER GAMES sets a pretty high bar, MAZE RUNNER never gets close to the bar and sadly nor does THE 5TH WAVE. Director J Blakeson (THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED) gives us a decent passable movie that looks pretty good and has potential but it never does anything to elevate it to the next level, it tries and then they give you some cheesy annoying romance slop and it topples down.


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THE 5TH WAVE is part of a trilogy with the second instalment, THE INFINITE SEA, already released as a book. If THE 5TH WAVE does good numbers this trilogy will continue onscreen. It is comparative to MAZE RUNNER but the question is whether Moretz has the pulling power of all the boys in MAZE RUNNER or J-Law from HUNGER GAMES, I honestly don’t think it will do too well. There hasn’t been much marketing on the movie and STAR WARS is still going strong. I would like to see if they improve this like they did with HUNGER GAMES movies but for that to happen people have to get out and see this one, take one for the team people so a different director can improve it for the second outing :).


2 and a Half Pops



Jason King is the owner and editor of Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Film Critics Circle of Australia and has been in the Australian movie industry for 25yrs. He loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. All the social media links to the right and up will allow you to abuse, troll or stalk him :).

** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the publisher – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.