The 5th Wave is terrible, but also COMPLETELY INSANE

5WV_1SHT_TSR_05.inddI didn’t have high hopes for The 5th Wave going into it. It looked like a Hunger Games rip-off, with your requisite YA dystopia and obligatory love triangle, and I was preparing myself for the worst. But then the movie began and though The 5th Wave is not a good movie, it’s so fucking DARK and BIZARRE that I kind of came around to it, in the end. I don’t recommend spending your money on it, but should you catch it on cable or Netflix someday, it’s worth watching as an artifact of insanity. It’s the craziest of the YA dystopia movies by far, taking the premise of “child murder as entertainment” to new, un-dreamed-of heights.

Chloe Grace Moretz stars as Cassie, a normal American high school student in with a normal, middle-American life who also straight up murders people. The movie opens with Cassie point-blank murdering a dude. No introduction, no warm-up, no preface, just right to the part where the pretty blonde heroine of our tale MURDERS A GUY. It’s a bold opening, to be sure.

Cassie_murder
Cassie, probably about to murder some dude

We then back track to the “last normal day” of Cassie’s life as a high school student in Ohio before aliens, called “The Others”, invade Earth and systematically begin destroying it. The first thirty minutes or so of The 5th Wave are actually pretty solid, as The Others lay waste to the planet through “waves” of destruction, such as an EMP that blows out all our electronics, then massively destructive earthquakes and tsunamis that wipe out most everyone living along the coasts. A virulent avian flu is next, and at this point, The 5th Wave is really hammering home the point that everyone you know and love will die.

You_Will_Die
DEATH COMES FOR US ALL

And then it goes completely off the rails. The movie splits into a dual narrative, on one hand following Cassie’s desperate, murder-strewn fight for survival in the wilderness, and on the other we follow Trout Pout—he has a name, but it’s too stupid to remember—a high school football star turned death squad captain. In her previous life, Cassie had a crush on Trout Pout, but now she believes him dead. He isn’t though. Instead he’s part of a group of child soldiers trained to be death squads exterminating Others who are now hiding in human hosts. It’s both the dumbest fucking thing you’ve ever heard, and also, HOLY SHIT IS IT DARK. It’s WAY darker than Ender’s Game, which it is blatantly ripping off.

Trout_Pout
TROUT. POUT.

Trout Pout is played by Jurassic World’s Nick Robinson, and he is exactly the kind of young actor I imagine has a legion of female tweener fans. I tried to imagine giddy tweens coping with the unrelentingly bleak dismantling of humanity in this movie and my head exploded. There’s been a strain of darkness in young adult entertainment for the last decade, but The 5th Wave combines that fatalistic outlook with batshit crazy logic for a movie that simultaneously makes no sense and yet will instill in you the deep and abiding knowledge that your parents will die, your friends will die, and you will die.

Cassie
Everyone will die.

The 5th Wave is the craziest fucking movie. It’s terrible, don’t get me wrong, but I’m actually impressed with how fucking BONKERS it is. It’s like someone took the grim fatalism of The Walking Dead and combined it with teen romance and then added a healthy side of CHILD MURDER. I haven’t even gotten to the other guy in Cassie’s love triangle, but honestly, even though he’s objectively more badass than Trout Pout—and also benefits from not having a stupid ass nickname—he doesn’t make much of an impression. I was too hung up on the part where Trout Pout was LEADING A DEATH SQUAD. These are the heroes of your story, 5th Wave: A girl who murders people and the captain of a death squad. I almost hope this movie does well enough to justify a sequel, because I sort of want to know just how fucking bananas this franchise can get.

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10 thoughts on “The 5th Wave is terrible, but also COMPLETELY INSANE

  1. CJ

    This was my favourite review of this movie. You perfectly captured exactly what I was thinking while I was watching which was “WTF CHILD SOLDIERS?!”. I kinda didn’t hate the books which is why I saw the movie, and it was promising in the first 30 mintues, but then… downward spiral. People in the theatre were laughing, it was all just too f*cking insane… it gets even more bonkers in the 2nd book. I can’t imagine how they’d bring it to the screen. Thank you for writing this review in this exact way. I knew I could count on you to do it right! (I’m a Lainey reader and was sad this wasn’t on that site, but am so SO happy you wrote about here on yours!)

  2. This was my favourite review of this movie. You perfectly captured exactly what I was thinking while I was watching which was “WTF CHILD SOLDIERS?!”. I kinda didn’t hate the books which is why I saw the movie, and it was promising in the first 30 mintues, but then… downward spiral. People in the theatre were laughing, it was all just too f*cking insane… it gets even more bonkers in the 2nd book. I can’t imagine how they’d bring it to the screen. Thank you for writing this review in this exact way. I knew I could count on you to do it right! (I’m a Lainey reader and was sad this wasn’t on that site, but am so SO happy you wrote about here on yours!)

  3. Martin

    I especially like the part where the aliens set off a EMP and all electrical devices shut down, then she sees all the cars crashing into each other. Kinda funny when the cars shown are older models before electronic brakes, they had mechanical brakes and should of still been able to stop instead of crashing.

    1. Dookie Cabron

      It’s “should HAVE” not “should OF”…What you wrote makes NO SENSE WHATSOEVER!! Okay, it SOUNDS almost right but just LOOK at it…should of??? That’s it…rant over.
      Now..back to the film. I found myself laughing out loud at how RIDICULOUS the dialogue and acting were. Chloë Grace Moretz as Cassie Sullivan is the most annoyingly STUPID character I’ve seen for a long time…I can’t say much more because of giving away the absurd plot….This MUST be seen by one and all so you can say you have truly seen one of the worst movies EVER….Go and enjoy it!!

  4. jonny

    It was horrible.. The acting, the plot, the entire movie. Aliens with such a ship with interstellar flight and the technology they use in the, first 4 waves . Then recruit human children to trick and brain wash to kill surviving humans. And again the acting was horrible.. clohe and Maria bello , maybe it was the movie and or the direction, don’l don’t see the draw on either one of these ladies.

  5. Pol Ly

    Dont waste your times boys and girls.
    This movie is so bad its laughable. 0/10 from me

    It starts out reasonably well but turns into teenage angst/love crap and all the adults
    are stupid and only young un’s can survive.

    I used the FF button on the remote a lot to get through the spilling their guts life stories that really add to a movie.

    Hello , Sci Fi movie ! if I want to read about teenage love I buy a book or get a chick flick out.

  6. PLH

    My cable provider offered this as their $1 movie of the week. It wasn’t worth it.
    I realize the moviemakers think audiences are stupid. But, wow.
    Why would aliens need to do any hands-on fighting, or drag out earth’s takeover over five waves? I’m sure they’d be able to kill all humans with a variation of a neutron bomb. Something that kills people without damaging infrastructure. They wouldn’t even have to leave their ship.
    And how stupid are the child army scenes? Everything in the world is destroyed except for a factory that makes tiny child sized army uniforms? Cheesy special effects when it comes to showing what the special goggles reveal. Looks like a cartoon. I couldn’t watch it to the end. Only time I’ve ever rooted for the aliens to win.

    1. The first few waves were pretty smart–disrupt, disable, destroy. It’s just that the last wave was SO STUPID.

      I still can’t believe this movie opened with the heroine murdering someone.

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