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Teenage Dystopian Apocalypse Blues

Meet the 5th Wave, same as the 4th Wave



It shouldn't be so hard to do dystopia right, but the young adult genre seems to struggle with it. For every excellent YA post-apocalyptic series (e.g. "The Chaos Walking Trilogy" or "The Red Rising Trilogy"), there are a dozen bad ones ( "Divergent" comes to mind). With the success of "The Hunger Games" films, all the studios started buying up the rights to as many dystopian YA series as they could.

"The 5th Wave" is the next book series to be adapted for theaters. The formula for these post-apocalyptic teen adventures is so strict that entire series can be predicted after the first few chapters of the opening book. There will be a young woman who is self-reliant and untrusting, a young man who is soft-hearted and awkward and a slightly older man who is handsome, but with a darkness inside him that makes him even more dreamy. At some point, a love triangle will blossom (most likely in the second book) and the tough but emotionally vulnerable young woman will make her choice based on her heart instead of her head.

The love triangle is then placed inside either a futuristic society where our modern way of life is long past and a new social order is in place, or it takes place right at the beginning of the world-ending cataclysm so we see humanity's demise. Then at some point, the sweetest or most adorable character will die and our heroes will discover that being human means helping others and protecting each other.

"The 5th Wave" takes all of these elements and mashes them up into a big boring soup and then sprinkles a bunch of cliché dialogue over it like Bac-O's. The film doesn't distinguish itself enough from all that has come before, nor does it create excitement for where the future of the series is going.

This franchise stars Chloe Grace Moretz as Cassiopeia "Cassie" Sullivan, a normal high school student trying to survive after an alien attack and subsequent invasion, following a series of catastrophes. The First Wave took out all electricity/technology, the Second Wave caused massive earthquakes that created tsunamis, wiping out three billion people and the Third Wave was a deadly virus that killed almost everyone else. The Fourth Wave is aliens infiltrating humanity, rather easily since they are indistinguishable from regular Earth people. The aliens then use this camouflage to pick off the last vestiges of humans one at a time. The Fifth Wave is predictable, yet holds a decent twist toward the end of the film.

For some reason, The Fourth Wave aliens mostly picked redneck humans to possess while they hunt the survivors. Thus, whenever Chloe Grace Moretz gets shot at throughout the film, her attackers always look like Ammon Bundy gave them the afternoon off the refuge. The unintentional hilarity of this keeps the film entertaining even when everything else fails.

Columbia Pictures was so eager to get into the YA franchise game that they didn't even wait for author Rick Yancey to publish the third book in the series (which will be released later this year). No matter what the future of the book or film franchise holds, "The 5th Wave" definitely does not inspire the audience to care.

"The 5th Wave"

Dir. J. Blakeson

Grade: D

Now playing at Old Mill Stadium 16 & IMAX

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