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‘The 5th Wave’ Flaunts Apocalypse Clichés

The Fifth Wave/Facebook


Based on Rick Yancey’s bestselling novel, The 5th Wave is an apocalyptical movie narrated by Ohio high school student Cassie Sullivan (Chloe Grace Moretz) as she navigates her way through an alien invasion. She survives through four deadly “waves” of the invasion with her family but when she gets separated from her little brother Sam (Zackary Arthur), she makes a promise to get back to him. The movie splits its time between following Cassie on her journey to get her brother and showing us Sam and Cassie’s old high school crush Ben Parish (Nick Robinson). Along with some sneak peaks into the government’s efforts to end the attacks.

The first wave shuts down the entire planet’s power. The second wave is a series of earthquakes and tsunamis across the Earth. The third wave is a plague-like sickness that spreads across the world. When the movie begins, the fourth wave has already begun. The aliens, or “others,” have come down and inhabited humans, making Cassie question everyone she comes across, including the ruggedly handsome stranger (Alex Roe) she meets along the way. Mourning the loss of those that were close to her, Cassie fights to make her way across the forest narrowly avoiding the intergalactic invaders.

Overall, The 5th Wave is an entertaining movie familiar to fans of movies like The Hunger Games and Divergent. Joining the ranks of the increasingly popular dystopian genre, The 5th Wave is a bit of a clichéd and predictable apocalypse movie. There are some exciting twists and turns for anyone who hasn’t read the book and a couple of intense fight scenes that keep the action moving forward. Chloe Grace Moretz gives an emotional and dramatic performance although she occasionally over-acts, giving certain scenes that are meant to be serious a slightly silly and humorous undertone. The occasional romance scenes between Moretz and Roe are stilted, mildly unbelievable, and ill-timed since they were in the middle of a dangerous alien attack.

The beginning of the movie–which further explains the first three waves of destruction–is rushed and does little to explain anything that wasn’t already alluded to in the trailer. Additionally, more attention could have focused on the construction of the relationships and interactions between the love interests. It ends before any serious character development, leaving moviegoers wishing for more.

One of the highlights of the movie is the relationship between Cassie and her little brother, played by Zackary Arthur. Moretz and Arthur’s adorable dynamic keeps the movie hopeful and riveting. Unlike most science fiction where alien invasions are far-fetched, The 5th Wave makes a possible alien invasion feel like it could happen tomorrow. By keeping the aliens ambiguous and secretive, they felt more realistic and more frightening. Robinson’s portrayal of the once dreamy Ben Parish’s transition into “Zombie,” a hard-core survivor of the third wave, was swoon-worthy and created an interesting possible love triangle.

While similar to other dystopian movies, the 5th Wave added its own unique twist to the apocalypse tale. Not unoriginal yet not unfamiliar, the movie ended with an intriguing cliffhanger to get viewers excited for the next movie. However, if the viewer isn’t a fan of teen dystopian movies, the effect may fall short. For those viewers, waiting until The 5th Wave is available for streaming on Netflix instead of heading to the theaters may be the best route.

Marra Ciuffetelli can be reached at

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