Published Jan 21, 2016January has long been the film industry's version of the New Jersey Meadowlands, the perfect place to dump their most toxic trash away from prying eyes. This year, the award for biggest stinker may go to the Chloë Grace Moretz-starring The 5th Wave, a picture so putrid it's hard to believe anybody ever imagined it being the start of a series (it's based on the first book in a critically acclaimed YA sci-fi trilogy by tax collector-turned-author Rick Yancey).
Moretz plays Cassie Sullivan, an average American teenager who suddenly finds her entire life thrown into disarray when a UFO plants itself squarely above the Midwest and starts doing pesky things like shutting down the world's electricity, causing mass flooding, creating a super strain of the Avian flu and allowing its shape-shifting passengers to fly down to Earth and execute all adults. The aliens are simply known as "the Others" — a bone-headed name that casts a weird, pseudo-racist pall over the proceedings here, no? — an intelligent outer space race looking (presumably?) for new land and natural resources, no matter the cost.
As their dastardly plans come to light, Cassie and her pubescent peers must fight to regain order and avenge their parents' deaths; it feels like it was written by somebody who's only ever seen the first 45 minutes of a Twilight movie, half an episode of V and one of those scenes in the Walking Dead where everybody is on an abandoned highway waiting for something to pop out. The lack of suspense is disappointing, while its overarching message about love conquering all is trite.
There isn't even eye candy to distract viewers; the special effects look five years too old, and there's a lingering sense that most of the scenes were shot in the woods to save money on shooting locations (Georgia, where the majority of filming took place, has become a hotbed of activity in recent years due to its tax incentives).
If the unsightly CGI and lacklustre storyline weren't enough to make you queasy, The 5th Wave also contains some pretty uncomfortable, overly sexualized scenes thanks to an odd plot point involving a perfectly placed flesh wound that allows the camera to linger for far too long on Moretz's bare thigh and will make you wonder if nasty Nigel Dick directed it.
Luckily for the talented cast involved — Liev Schreiber, Ron Livingston, and rising stars Maika Monroe and Tony Revolori among them — The 5th Wave is so unexceptional it simply ends up being forgettable.