**The following is an in-depth review of “The 5th Wave” and does contain spoilers.**
Based on the wildly popular young adult novel by Rick Yancey, "The 5th Wave" combines the alien invasions of "War of the Worlds" and "Independence Day" with the apocalyptic survivalism of "The Walking Dead" to create an entertaining, if not entirely original, viewing experience.
The story begins like all alien invasion stories, with an unidentifiable object appearing in the sky. Of course, the object is soon discovered to be an extra-terrestrial craft, and the aliens are soon dubbed "The Others." At first, the craft is just there, cruising in orbit around the Earth. It doesn't take long, however, for the attack to begin.
The first wave of the invasion involves an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) which wipes out all electrical devices on the planet. No cars, cell phones, television or radio; nothing. Even the running water is neutralized. This renders the people of Earth defenseless against subsequent attacks.
The second wave involves the Others causing natural disasters, predominantly floods and earthquakes, that wreak havoc on the planet's infrastructure as well as killing a good percentage of the population.
Those not killed in the second wave are soon attacked by a biological attack. The film explains that humans are outnumbered by birds at roughly a ratio of 75 to one. Because of this, the Others infect the birds with a genetically enhanced bird flu. Again, the majority of the survivors from the second wave are taken out in wave three, leaving only pockets of survivors left.
In the fourth wave, the Others infiltrate the Earth with snipers who have taken human form. These snipers - called Silencers - begin tracking survivors and picking them off one by one.
By the fifth wave, there aren't much more than children and teenagers left. The survivor children are inducted into the military and trained at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to fight the Others during the fifth wave of the attack. These children, some as young as 5 years old, are trained in tactics and firearm proficiency, the same as any adult soldier would be. They are also all given "call signs" which become their new names.
The base commander explains to the new "recruits" that the Others have invaded the Earth and have taken human form. The Others need our planet, but they don't need us. The invasion's ultimate goal is to cause maximum casualties but minimal damage to the planet, so that they can use it once the humans have been eradicated.
"The 5th Wave" doesn't do anything profound to the alien invasion genre, nor does it intend to. The film's sole purpose is to spin a good, entertaining yarn, and it accomplishes that goal.
Chloe Grace Moretz is wonderful in this movie, and the rest of the cast turns in equally great performances. While the story may not break any new ground, the acting certainly makes up for it. Moretz is well on her way to becoming an A-list star in the very near future.
Everything in the film is played completely straight. Prior to the invasion, the teenagers are written like real teenagers, and after the invasion the battle portions are likewise played with extreme realism. You forget that these are kids and not real soldiers, because these actors have the soldiering down pat. Everything in the movie comes off as completely natural and believable.
While the original novel was directed at a young adult audience - much as "Twilight" and "The Hunger Games" were before it - the film doesn't play that way at all. Nothing in the film feels specific to the young adult audience, nor does the fact that kids are fighting the aliens feel as though it is pandering to that audience. Instead, everything feels very much in place.
Two sequels to the original novel exist, and the film definitely ends on a note that would be consistent with planning a sequel. There is an ending to the film, but while the battle is won it's made very clear that the war against the Others is ongoing.
On the whole, "The 5th Wave" is very entertaining, even if it won't be winning any awards or making any sort of profound dent in the future of the alien invasion genre. It is, however, an exciting family night out at the movies.
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