5. The 5th Wave

The most important thing I want to say is that, even though I’m a math guy, I did not deliberately arrange my viewing schedule in such a way that my fifth movie would be “The 5th Wave”.  But it doesn’t upset me, either.

Anyway, I knew I wanted to see this one once I saw the first trailer because I’m a Chloe Grace Moretz fan.  After getting her start in “Kick-Ass” as Hit-Girl (still one of the greatest characters ever created.  I have a love/hate relationship with Mark Millar, but I’ll always love him for that one.), she got a lot of attention and hasn’t been at a loss for work at any point since.  I’ve liked her in everything she’s contributed to (except for her odd cameo in “Muppets Most Wanted”, though I really liked that movie) and I feel that, even if the movie she’s in isn’t great (“If I Stay” was a bore), her presence alone elevates the production.  (Here’s another parenthetical aside, just for fun.)

That holds true, here.  From the opening scene – itself powerful and memorable – she projects an air of accessibility.  She’s the likeable girl next door who’s been placed into an impossible situation.  She gets to go to a few different places within her range throughout the film and she goes there effortlessly, as usual.  Nothing stretches her or puts her to the test, but I can see why she was cast and I can see why she accepted the role.  She was due a fairly high-profile starring vehicle and she did her part, without question.

The film, as a whole, was a small-scale alien invasion picture.  Think more along the lines of “Signs” and less along the lines of “Independence Day”.  But mostly only in terms of scale and an underlying theme of family.  This movie wasn’t as contained as Shyamalan’s and had a much more proactive antagonist.  But it was still a tale that was motivated by personal interests, rather than a desire to save the world.

For the most part, it worked, especially for the first two acts.  There was nothing groundbreaking, here.  Nothing jaw-dropping.  Nothing that makes it absolutely must-see.   Virtually all of the story and character elements have been done before by bigger and better films.  But that doesn’t mean those elements weren’t applied well, here.  Generally, they were put to fun use, if nothing else.  There were a couple of really transparent “twists”, though, that are pretty easily called about halfway through the movie.

I appreciated that director J Blakeson placed importance on character but his inexperience showed as the balance and pacing was off.  It did start to drag, a little bit towards the end of the second act, but thankfully picked up just in time.  But, once that happened, what came with it was truly distressing.

Suddenly, the characters start behaving and thinking in the most absurd ways.  And Deus ex Machina kicks into full gear.  And when I say that they start behaving absurdly, I don’t mean that the characters suffer from poor judgement.  One of my pet peeves when faced with other people’s thoughts on movies is that they ridiculously expect all movie characters – regardless of age, experience, background, physical capabilities, medical history, education, taste in music, political affiliations, country of origin, and on and on and on – to make the most appropriate, intelligent, effective, logical choices at all times, forever and ever, amen.  That’s unbelievable to me.  That’s not how people work.  In stressful situations, people don’t think as clearly as they normally would.  And neither would you.  You likely would do no better than the character you’re calling “stupid” if you were in their position.  And you would likely write a much crappier movie than the movie you’re criticizing, too, because you clearly don’t have a firm grasp on truth and reality.

So, no, that’s not what I mean.  I mean that they start behaving unrealistically for human beings.  They think and act in ways that real people just don’t think and act, in the worst cases, and simply behave uncharacteristically based on their earlier, established personalities in some other cases.  That’s maddening because though, as I mentioned, it wasn’t particularly fresh or original up to that point, it had carried some weight and held together pretty well.

Also frustrating was a completely forced and unnatural love story that was suddenly crammed in during the third act that was clearly there to pander to the unrealistic fantasies of the One Direction crowd.  I don’t mind love stories.  Love is part of life, life is explored by art, films are art, and therefore love has a place in film.  It just has to be believable.  And, folks, love doesn’t work the way this movie claims it works.  For example, one character explains why he can’t love and then says that he loves, anyway, in the very same breath and it blew my mind.  Write for honesty, not for demographic appeal.  You had that group, already, just by casting Chloe.

If I was going to use a baseball analogy – and I am – I’d say “The 5th Wave” is a solid base hit with two strikes.  It had enough good to keep it from being any sort of failure, but it also never really attempted to break new ground or reach any towering heights.  The filmmakers seemed to be leaning on Chloe to get them through and she manages to.  But she could have used a little help to turn it into something special.  But that didn’t appear to be the goal.


Notable audience members:
1.  Some elderly lady a few rows up decided to open her tasty cellophane-wrapped treat . . . for seven #%&*-ing minutes.  People, if you have to open your snacks, it’s better to do it quick and loud than it is to do it slow and almost just as loud.
2.  The girl three seats to my right was very polite, cute, and alone.  She laughed at all the right places and her laugh was as adorable as she was.  I shall never see her again.

Okay, I’m on a roll, now!  I don’t expect to see any new ones until next weekend, if I can squeeze it in while I try for the third consecutive weekend to visit my nieces (snow and sickness have been getting in the way).  I may post some other movie-related interludes between viewings if I find a chance and feel so inclined.  Also, I went ahead and bought my ticket for the movie that will likely either be number seven or eight on my list.  Bet you know what it is!  Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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