Reviews around the world : The 5Th Wave

Another week, another plucky teenage girl with the fate of the world on her shoulders, buffeted by smouldering glances from 2 strong, yet sensitive, young men. Adapted from Rick Yancey’s 2013 novel, The 5th Wave stars Chloe Grace Moretz as Cassie Sullivan, a high school student whose world is suspended when aliens invade. 
 
If that sounds tantalizingly like a retread of the sci - fi blockbuster that Moretz’s character headlined in Clouds of Sils Maria, the new film is both more engaging and just as generic as that movie within  a  movie. Director J Blakeson (behind the camera for the first time since 2009’s drum-tight (The Disappearance of Alice Creed) might be making franchise bait, but he exhibits a relatively restrained reliance on spectacle.
 
Soon after, an electromagnetic pulse takes out the world’s power — the 1st phase. Next come floods, then avian flu, then a ground invasion. All this is condensed by the film into a short flashback as prelude. Cassie and her brother narrowly escape the rushing waters of a burst dam at home in Ohio, while coastal cities suffer the worst of it. A montage of computer - generated tidal waves smashing into Miami and the London Bridge and up office stairwells is terrifying & tossed off, as though Blakeson is in a hurry to get the apocalypse out of the way and on with the story.
 
Their task of defending the planet against the imminent 5th wave is complicated by the discovery that “the others,” as the aliens are called throughout, can assume human form. This wrinkle is the pic’s savviest, allowing Blakeson to emphasize the personal & earthbound. There are plenty of shoot - outs in The 5th Wave, but no interminable aerial combat.
 
This middle section of the film is the saggiest, weighed down by a leaden romance that seems all too familiar, but it picks up again when Cassie & Ben team up to rescue Nugget from under the nose of Schreiber’s conniving Colonel Vosch. In a sequence sustained seamlessly by editor Paul Rubell, the kids stick it to the adults and strike out on their own.
 
If part of YA’s appeal is that it provides a fantasy of independence from parents at a time when young people find it deferred longer than ever, Enrique Chediak’s glossless digital photography locates The 5th Wave very much in the here & now, investing it with the same earthiness he gave 2014’s The Maze Runner.
 

 

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