Friday, January 22, 2016

The 5th Wave [2016]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-II)  ChicagoTribune (2 Stars) (1 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C)  Fr. Dennis (2 3/4 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. McCarthy) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (S. O'Malley) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review  

The 5th Wave [2016] (directed by J Blakeson, screenplay by Susannah Grant, Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner based on the novel [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] by Rick Yancey [wikip] [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] [IMDb]) is film that will almost certainly irritate
"Teen Apocalypse" purists while "rolling the eyes" of Others just hoping for "The End" of this rather extended Wave of such films.  Yet "Don't lose Heart, ye who are hoping that teen pop culture will move on to something else, for The End (or at least A Respite) is Nigh," when it comes to this genre of tales ;-).

For this film is already something of a comedy / spoof of the genre ... blending the quite Solemn and _very sequential_ Ordering (of various Divinely Ordered Punishments / Tribulations) present in "The Original Apocalypse" of the Book of Revelation with a more contemporary (and yes, at times campy) "Alien Invasion" scenario of the 1950s style teen oriented Sci-Fi / Horror flicks like the (original) Blob [1958].

A hint that the film makers did not intend their movie to be taken with the solemn seriousness of say The Hunger Games [2012-15] or the Divergent [2014-16] series or even the more Biblically inspired The Remaining [2014] can be found in an early voice-over.  There the current story's heroine, Cassie Sullivan (actually played quite amusingly by Chloë Grace Moretz), clues Viewers in on all that had transpired to cause her, a once-soccer-playing teenager from random-town-in-Ohio still quite smartly dressed and STILL WITH PERFECT HAIR to -- M-16 assault rifle in-hand -- raid an abandoned gas-station / convenience-mart for, well, ... tampons ;-) saying: "Let's face it, to a teenager in high school, EVERY DAY can seem like 'the end of the world'..." ;-)

Cassie continues, explaining that one day a huge, inscrutable extraterrestrial object ominously / quite silently entered into earth's orbit (think of the scenario from Independence Day [1996] or of the one outlined in the Science Channel's Alien Encounters [2012-] docudrama series) refusing apparently all communication with us (humanity) below.  Then after 10 days of this (teenagerly "arrogant" / "we won't talk to you" ;-) silence, an alien invasion ensued, rolling out in Waves:  First there was an Electromagnetic Pulse that knocked out all electronic equipment on earth.  Then, some days / weeks later came SUDDEN / ENORMOUS tidal surges (perhaps from the alien object's "bombing of the oceans") THAT REACHED ALL THE WAY TO OHIO hundreds of miles inland (Cassie explained: "If the waves reached us, you can imagine what they did to the coasts.  Every coastal city in the world was certainly destroyed.").  Then came a viral plague that wiped out most of the rest of humanity.

And in the Fourth Wave, it became apparent that the invading Aliens were somehow COMING TO INHABIT the bodies of some of the Survivors of the first Three Waves.  These Aliens, which had been come to be known by the Survivors as simply "The Others" LOOKED THEREFORE _JUST LIKE_ "regular human beings."

And this then was The Terror in which 16 year old, once soccer-playing now M-16 toting Cassie (always with Perfect Hair) was living-in: The world had been invaded by Aliens, who had already Destroyed most of "the world" as it had existed before.  But these Aliens were all but indistinguishable from the (human) Survivors.  

What to do?  The rest of the story ensues ... ;-)

It's not an altogether dumb scenario and, again, it's clear that it's intended at least in part to be funny.  And yes, there is a lot of teen-oriented camp.  Cassie is at one point "saved" by a ridiculously good-looking, six-pack ab-ed teenage hunk named Evan Walker (played wonderfully by Alex Roe).  Who was he?  Why did he save her?  Why was he even nice to her (or anybody) after all that had happened (to everybody else)?  There's also "an army" that _somehow_ springs up to fight said "Others," led by a quite confidence producing / "leader-ly" Colonel Vosch (played quite well for the role by Liev Shrieber).  But then, who were they / where did they come from / WHERE WERE "THEY" before?   And why do THEIR TRUCKS / COMPUTERS / ETC (quite suddenly) work?

As one watches the film, one sees seemingly glaring inconsistencies, and yet, amusingly they're not, or at least not all of them anyway.

So actually it becomes an amusing (if somewhat paranoid, though again "in a fun sort of way" ;-) movie to watch -- What's real? What's not? Is everything going to come together in the end? Do the film makers care?

All in all, this is perhaps an inevitable movie ... portending perhaps "The End" of this genre.  But at least it's coming to an End "with a wink and a smile" ;-) 

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