General Review: The 5th Wave

Hello, Spongey here.

Since I started doing these General Reviews, I’ve been sticking to recently released films. I wanted to do more older ones and the like but I guess I just got busy with my other projects. With the play by play reviews getting rarer, I think I should do more general reviews in…well, general.

You may see some “older” films eventually, but for now I wanted to focus on a 2016 film I skipped out of on. Yeah, I may do a couple as catch up, if I have enough to say about. I will do a Best and Worst of the year list so some will be discussed there.

I had no plans of discussing this one, as it seemed like it was just be forgettable and I would have nothing to say about it, much like Insurgent. (I’ll be bringing that up a lot, I think…). I mean, it’s yet another YA Movie and it came out in January.

And the reception didn’t exactly make me wanna watch it, even if I heard it’s one of the better ones. But I’m currently playing catch up and watching all the 2016 films currently on DVD, that I was even a bit curious about.

And after watching it, I had to talk about it. You’ll see why in it. I’ll talk about the writers later as it’s important to my big point, and the director has done nothing of note.

Oh, and the book this is based on…exists. I know nothing of it it, except that it’s a trilogy, of course. I want to read it now but we’ll get to why. Is this YA film actually a breath of fresh air, or is it a wave of disappointment. Let’s find out.

This, is The 5th Wave

PRODUCTION:

Not too much to say here. It’s shot in a fairly standard way, but that works for what it’s going for. The direction can be strong in some parts, making scenes decently intense. There aren’t too many actual effects, but they look fine, I guess.

The production is only noteworthy in two major action scenes…set at night. And the lighting is lackluster, so you can’t tell what’s going on, yet it’s written in a way where you’re supposed to care about what’s going on. Whoops.

That’s the only reason I put this section here, as it’s unremarkable otherwise. The direction is mostly competent, but is nothing special with two bad action scenes. Eh.

WRITING:

Four waves of increasingly deadly alien attacks have left most of Earth decimated. Cassie is on the run, desperately trying to save her younger brother.

I’m not sure where to begin. Actually, I should start with how I felt about the film as I watched it. It starts with narration that adds pretty much nothing and very pointless, and brushes over stuff we could have scene for ourselves.

We get a taste of Cassie’s life before the aliens start coming and they are a bit slow and don’t just come in guns a blazing. I found this kind of interesting as they do build up some suspense. Then eventually the plot truly begins as the aliens come in cause a bunch of terror, as Cassie ends up split from her memory and has to find her brother and such.

And…to be honest, I started to get into it! Yeah, they do a fine job at making this simple as it’s about Cassie just going through this rather horrific ordeal. It’s kind of engaging with how things escaltes and some tragic thigns happened.

Granted, I wasn’t fully getting into it, as I felt it started a bit too quickly. We get close to enough, but it’s just missing an extra element that would really get me to care 100 percent as it is. But as it is, it’s slightly rushed, and that is holding it back slightly.

But otherwise, I was kind of enjoying it. Surprisingly so, as it felt like an actual movie, and not just tween garbage. I wasn’t too interested when they introduced a sublot with this guy named Ben basically joining the kid Resistance but that was the only stumbling block.

Then we get more of him and he become less interesting with each passing scene. But then came Evan, a guy who saves Cassie. Okay, he should be fine, he’ll just gives us another perspective to this or something.

Then it turned out he’s a love interest and they tried to have a romance. (This about 50 minutes into a 105 minute movie).

The second I saw Cassie looking at his naked back, the film pretty much lost me. Then it gets on further to really screw up the romance, and tries to become so bigger with Ben’s plot.

Then it eventually ended after a non-climax, and a cliffhanger, in a manner I’ve seen in every single one of these damn movies. Roll credits. ….

…What the hell happened?! I’ve never a film switched gears this much in a while! It’s okay, then decent, then good, then okay again, then meh, and almost flat out mediocre! The odd thing is, the bad parts are almost excusable, but then it kept getting worse.

Let’s calm down. The parts that work are good because it felt simple. It’s a basic story about a teenage girl who looks 19 trying to survive this alien invasion, and get to her brother. It was engaging and suspenseful enough for me to forgive some writing issues at that point.

It felt like an attempt at making a real movie, as I said. So why do the weak parts fail so much? I mean, having a bigger plot isn’t too bad as we gotta have something else happen. But when it gets bigger, it becomes a generic alien invasion movie.

Especially with the bit of them taking people’s bodies. They attempt some twists with it, and it’s almost interesting but it’s all TOLD to us and we never truly experience it. The writers can do a simpler story fine, but they seem to not be able to do anything bigger without it being very dull and tired.

And dat romance. I’ve seen worse, but just wow. This is really forced. The set up seems okay but it just comes out of nowhere. They never develop Evan’s character so it’s just kind of weird, and we’re given no reason for them liking each other than…the plot says so.

They have one okay bit, but the rest is so forced and cliché. There’s the scene where she is hurt and he has to heal her, romantically. Seriously, that cliche isn’t freaking dead yet?! It’s in almost all of these kind of movies. It doesn’t help that his actor looks a bit older, making it less romantic than it already he is.

(Cassie’s Actress is 19. Evan’s actor is 26. Not quite fully creepy but just close enough)

I just felt nothing for this couple, especially since it adds up to very little in the end. Him turning out to be an Other doesn’t make him better. Not a spoiler because I saw it coming and do you really care?

It could have been interesting but they boil it down to him saying Cassie taught him that love is good. Gag me with a spoon. It’s just a weakly written romance, and it drags the film down.

The story boils down to things we’ve seen before, made worse the bigger the film gets. The odd thing is, some twists are almost interesting. I should like some of this but they just don’t work.

I think it’s because they prefer sticking to conventions rather than expending on interesting ideas. The biggest twist is explained to us, so as I said, its hard to be truly invested. The ending just seals the deal.

It ends exactly like you think it would, with nothing truly resolved and a set up for a sequel that …may happen. It did decently enough, so maybe we’ll see another one, but since nothing has been confirmed, I doubt it.

The main problem is that it becomes just another tween movie, with a forced romance and everything. All the good parts are kind of snuffed out or underdeveloped in favor of these tween elements.

Which sucks because the first half tried hard to be a real movie. The story was still simple and generic, but the exceuction made it engaging enough. Then it got weaker to the point where I just stopped caring.

To the shock of no one, this had 3 writers. It says “__ & __”, and __” meaning we had two working together, then someone coming in separately. I bet that the first two guys made a solid simple script, but then they forced in this other guy and he put in all the crap I bitched about.

I’m not sure to blame, because the 3rd guy makes the most sense…but one of the other guys wrote Insurgent. Now it all makes sense. That one also it had it’s okay scense but was just another forgettable tween movie in the end, even if it was better than Divergent. (I’m sure that new one is the same)

The 2nd half feels so different that it had to have been changed during production. Ben’s plot kind of comes out nowhere, and betrays the overall tone. This seems to an alien invasion from the point of view of a teenager, who really doesn’t; know much and is just trying to survive.

But the extra stuff, just makes it a typical invasion story, where we know too much. I’m going on too long, because my thoughts on the full film will go in final thoughts.

But in general, the writing is too mixed on. Early on, it’s a simple but effective story, but becomes too big, being very generic with a romance so weak even calling it half baked would be inaccurate.

I’m not sure how the script got like this, but it’s a shame,

CHARACTERS:

With the writing being a waste in the end, you can expect equally underwhelming characters. There are only a few that matter, and sadly one is good.

That one is our hero Cassie, played by Chloe Grace Maretz. She’s not exactly amazing or anything, but she’s likable enough with how she’s pretty a normal nice girl forced to survive in this situation. Even later on, she wasn’t too bad and made for a likable enough lead.

The acting on her being solid helps too. So yeah, at least they got the main character right, even if she’s less interesting by the end thanks to the romance and other problems. The rest aren’t as passable.

We have our love interest, Evan Walker. The concept with isn’t the worst, but he just ends up being a weak love interest in the end with barely any develop. They just drop him into the movie and don’t do as much on his own as they could have.

He’s at least not hatable, but he’s not too interesting thanks to the mediocre romance.

Then we have Ben Parish, played by the guy in Frenemies who has the affair with the dog or something. His set up is that he’s some guy Cassie knew and he was a bit more popular, so it’s a bit more devastating that he’s put into this situation, then he joins that Resistance thing.

He could have been interesting as some sort of contrast to Cassie, but there isn’t a lot to him. Everything about him is told to us in some way and he’s mostly just boring. If he was a love interest this would make sense, but as it is, there’s no reason he should be this dull.

Actually, why didn’t they pair her up with the guy closing to her in age? It still wouldn’t be the best,but at least it would make sense! His hasn’t gotten too much better, but with this script, I don’t blame him for mostly being wooden.

And the final character worth mentioning is this one girl in Ben’s unit, whose name I forgot and don’t feel like looking. The Wikipedia Summary barely mentions, that’s a good sign. She’s the tough chick who has snarky lines. She starts off okay but gets boring and doens’t really add a lot.

They try a bit too hard to make her “Badass” and it just doesn’t fully work. And those are the only important characters. The brother is just kind of there, and the rest exist to move the plot forward. I like that there isn’t quite a concrete villain, but that makes it more obvious this wasn’t meant to be some big plot.

Like the writing, the characters start off like they can work but quickly become either typical or boring. The lead is decent enough, but the others are just boring. No one is hateable, but no one is really worth remembering either.

Final Thoughts:

The 5th Wave could have been that rare tween movie by actually being a solid small story that’s engaging with a strong lead, but sadly it turns into a very typical tween movie with a weak 3rd act, and even weaker attempt at romance.

What the hell happened? If it stuck to it’s guns, it wouldn’t have been amazing, but it would have refreshing and decent for what it is. But it just fell apart. To be fair, the bad parts arent’ terrible, and bits almost work but it just kind of peters out in the end.

All the bad elements have been done worse, and it’s still way better than Divergent, Vampire Academy and Mortal Instruments. But at least those only had occasional good moments later on. This one mostly started fine and become so weak.

Was the book like this? I have to read it to see if maybe there wasn’t a lot to work to begin with, or all these elements flowed naturally in the book and the screenwriters just screwed it up.

A romance could have worked if you set it up early, and actually developed it instead of just putting in the 2nd half for no reason. With how it is in the film, there has to have some kind of studio interference, it just doesn’t flow enough for it to be a conscious decision.

I don’t want to think that the writers are just that incompetent. As it is, it’s a mess. It starts off mostly strong, but just becomes very generic and forgettable. They really tried early on but just gave up, it seems.

Even as it is, I can get through it easily, and I’ve seen worse, but man is it disappointing. It started like an actual movie, but just become another tween film no one’s going to remember.

There really is nothing worse than wasted poteintol sometimes.

Writing: C

Production: B-

Characters: C

OVERALL: C+

There, I got that out there. I had such weird feelings after finishing it last night that I had to talk about it, especially since some reviews may lead you to think it’s all bad. I had heard it starts okay and gets worse, and while it took a while, it eventually got…not so good.

I still it’s overall not bad and there is worse out there, but it gets extra hate points so being so disappointing. It may not have been anything crazy special if it was fully good, but it would have be an actual movie I can take seriously.

But nope. I’m not sure what other “Classic” General Reviews you’ll get, it has to be something I have something to say about and I doubt The Boss will give me a lot to talk about, or whatever.

For now, look forward to my pain on Friday with Ice Age 5.

See ya.

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About Spongey444

I'm 20 and I'm a slightly below average man who can barely spell. I mostly spend my time watching TV and movies, hence why i ended doing a blog all about those things. I tend to have weird tastes, but I like think I'm just fair on things.
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