Plot: What’s it about?
There’s an old saying that goes something like this: “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth over-doing.” While I don’t necessarily agree with the sentiment, it does ring true. And apparently the movie studios live by this mantra as we’re now in the presence of yet another young adult, dystopian future only-one-girl-can-save-the-world adventure. Oh and guess what? It’s part of a trilogy of books. To be fair, after a bit of research, the novel was actually very well-received so as you’ll see below; I’m not really sure what happened with the film version. But getting back to my pseudo-rant, no sooner did The Hunger Games movies end than yet another series of young adult movies start. With the Divergent series in the mix as well as The Maze Runner, we have to ask ourselves this: how much is too much? On the positive side, though, the film does star Chloë Grace Moritz who I’ve been a fan of since the Kick Ass films. She’s got the screen presence to make it work, though the rather disappointing box office reception might argue. Ok, enough paddling on by me, let’s see what fate awaits our world in this series of films…
Chloë Grace Moritz plays Cassie, a high-school girl with all the normal aspirations. But when the world loses power things change for her and everyone else. At first, its not that big of a deal. Humans have the ability to adapt and Cassie and her parents (Ron Livingston and Maggie Siff) make the best of it. That was the first wave. The second wave hits – with a force! The waters of the oceans take out all the coastal cities and even though the film takes place in Ohio, we still see the ferocity of this wave. Having survived that, the third wave hits – a deadly bird flu manages to take out most of those that survived the first two waves. Now afraid and alone, Cassie and her younger brother, Sam (Zackary Arthur) find themselves at a “safe camp” under the direction of Col. Vosch (Liev Schreiber). Bosch explains that an alien force known only as “the others” have taken control of some of the adults. I’ll leave it to you as to what happens to the adults. Cassie and Sam get separated and we see her trials and tribulations as she attempts to get him back, all the while avoiding being killed.
Ok, now here’s my problem with the movie – there are a LOT of empty spaces. I’ll try and explain this without giving away any plot points, but I can’t make any guarantees. For one, we never actually see the aliens (the “others”). We only get a glimpse of them through special glasses that show them as a crab-like thing attached to the brains of humans. Next, we don’t really get a sense of time as to how long this has all taken. Kids are taken and trained as military killers in the span of a few…weeks? I don’t get that. And lastly, the movie is obviously trying to set up yet another love triangle between Cassie, Ben (Nick Robinson) and Evan (Alex Roe). Do I sense shades of The Hunger Games or Twilight? I think so. To be honest, I really wanted to like this movie and yes I judge them by their covers. And the cover is pretty cool-looking. Still, I couldn’t help rolling my eyes and looking at my watch about halfway through. Will there be enough to produce a sequel or will this trilogy be left out in the cold? Let’s hope it’s the latter.
Video: How’s it look?
For all intents and purposes, The 5th Wave looks exactly as we’d expect it to look. Coming from Sony, who produces some of the better-looking titles out there, I’d have expected no less. But there were a few scenes in this movie that made me raise an eyebrow. I really can’t put my finger on it, but there seemed to be a “home video” quality to a few of the exterior shots. I’ve calibrated my television to reduce (or eliminate) any of the “soap opera effects” that come standard with the new sets. Still, a scene with running water seemed to have a very odd effect as did that of a sweeping shot of a parking lot. Maybe it was just me, but it just seemed to reek of low quality. Now that aside, the 2.40:1 AVC HD image does look amazing. It would appear that Chloë Grace Moritz has never had a single blemish in her entire life and her pale, porcelain skin positively glows on screen. The detail is amazing and I found a nice balance between contrast and black levels. The two aforementioned “errors” (and I use quotes intentionally) aside, this does look the part.
Audio: How’s it sound?
On paper, this is a movie about aliens attempting to take over the Earth. One might equate that to an amazing-sounding track ala Independence Day. Sorry, not this time. While the movie doesn’t sound bad by any means, there’s a surprising lack of real action in the film. Yes, there are gunshots fired and I guess a few things do blow up. Ok, maybe we’re treated to some shots of tidal waves taking out coastal cities around the world, but none of these really left a lasting impression on me. The included DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack does a fine job for the most part, but that extra element (the “wow” factor, if you will) just seemed to be absent. Vocals are pure and crisp, and the surrounds provided some much needed ambiance, but I can’t help but being a bit let down here.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Audio Commentary – Director J Blakeson and Chloë Grace Moritz combine for a pretty chatty commentary track. Moritz leads the way on some of the featurettes as well and I do have to admire her enthusiasm. We do learn a lot about the translation from the novel to screen and some of the behind the scenes things going on. Fans of the book and movie will probably appreciate this more than I did.
- InsideThe 5th Wave – A very exuberant Chloë Grace Moritz gives us a tour of the set on her first day of shooting and we’re treated to some behind the scenes footage as well as some interviews with the cast and crew.
- Sammy on the Set – An interview with Zackary Arthur, who plays Sam in the movie. Awww…he’s adorable!
- Bonus sneak peek excerpt of The Last Star, by Rick Yancey – Hey, wouldn’t you know it – the final book in the trilogy comes out pretty soon and we get an excerpt of it here! The timing is…uncanny!
- Everything from the DVD plus…
- The 5th Wave Survival Guide – Some sound bites/scenes as to how to survive the attack of aliens.
- Training Squad 53 – We get a little one on one with all the key members of the “training squad”, Dumbo, Ringer, Zombie and the others. Essentially it’s a few clips of each of them with the actor describing his or her character.
- Creating a New World – We get some insight from the production crew as they took an ordinary town and gave it the “Hollywood” effect trying to make it look as if the world had just been destroyed and taken over by aliens. They don’t call it the “Dream Factory” for nothing, folks!
- Gag Reel – Shenanigans on the set.
- Deleted Scenes – Like most deleted scenes, these really don’t add a lot to the film and would have slowed its pacing. Hence, that’s why they were deleted. Still, for those that want to see just a bit more – here they are for your consideration.
The Bottom Line
I’ve essentially covered my thoughts a few times over in the plot section. This just wasn’t for me. I’m a bit perplexed at how well-received the novel was, but something was clearly lost in translation here. The Blu-ray looks good and sounds good (notice the absence of the word “great”) and fans of the film will have enough supplements to wade though if a purchase is in order. I won’t recommend one, though.