It’s pretty easy to sum up my feelings on The 5th Wave book/movie combo. They are both equally terrible. The book was quite the slog, coming in over 500 pages but reading like if they took the beginning of The Hungers Games (before she even gets picked for the games) and just streeeeeettttcccchhhed that right out. We are made aware of an alien attack and how four waves have decimated the Earth’s population, but then spend hundreds and hundreds of pages with our characters sitting around working out their feelings of loss and despair. They just kind of repeat over and over “I was a normal kid, but now I’m not so normal. Perhaps I am no longer even human. Alas, what is human? What is humanity? What is life? What makes it worth living? Alas. Woe is me.” You spend hours in these kids heads as they mostly do nothing but sit around. It’s tough. As for the film, I would have ventured to say that it was virtually unfilmable. Not enough happens in the book to make it interesting on the screen, and yet there is so much setup (presumably for the other books) that it can’t all fit into an effective storyline. They either needed to totally change the story or combine the books into a single film and just focus on the action that’s available. They, of course, just put the book directly to screen… It was basically the worst of both worlds. Not only did they retain the noticeable lack of action, but they brutalized the characters in order to fit the book into a 100 minute package. God I hope they don’t make more of these. I really don’t want to read the next book. Patrick?
In what has become a standard in the BMT review we are once again grading this film for Settings 101. Like all YA novels, this story takes place in Ohio (fine, it’s just I Am Number Four… but isn’t is weird that a different, alien-centric young adult novel with a number in the title is also set in Ohio?). We first become aware of the setting through news network maps depicting the location of the alien mothership hovering over Ohio. There is also a hint of location during the earthquake/tsunami wave, where our main characters explains that they were able to survive since they only had to worry about a smaller wave coming in from the Great Lakes. This would have been enough for a solid C rating. Adding to the grade though is the vital role that Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (in Dayton, OH) plays in the plot! This is the alien base and is mentioned by name throughout the film. Additionally, when our main character is working her way to the base she uses a map of Ohio to do so with Dayton clearly marked and circled. Similar to Random Hearts I have to ultimately give this an A-. While the presence of Wright-Patterson as a major plot point is good, it could have been replaced by many other air force bases. It’s not iconic or irreplaceable.
‘Ello everyone? The 5th Wave probably refers to how many overpowering waves of nausea you’ll experience while watching this film! (straight up roasts up here this week). Alright, we went YA with this, and as an expert in trash YA novels let’s get into it.
- The Good – The acting across the board was adequate. Moretz and Schreiber (killing it again in BMT, right on the heels of his tour de force performance in Phantoms) in particular made it out mostly unscathed. The story for the most part was interesting, even if I needed Jamie to explain some of the secret book reasoning behind some choices.
- The Bad – The love triangle was garbage, most adults in the film might as well have been faceless blobs for how relatable they are. The story structure is so classically droll (really? A voiceover flashback combination? I know it can make sense with a book, but mix it up, don’t “read” me the characterization of everybody. They end up completely botching the army storyline involving Zombie (who should have nipped that terrible nickname right in the bud when it came up, it is the worst).
- The BMT – Yes, but especially if they can squeeze a few more adaptations out of it. I’ve read Hunger Games and Divergent and each of those tumbled straight downhill in quality. I’m tempted by Maze Runner as well (especially the Porch Trials). But this is by far the worst any of these series started out. And they almost always get worse as they go on. Give us one more, please. I need more Evan Walker in my life (not really, he was by far the worst actor in the film I thought).
Phew, I like YA novels and adaptation, especially when they are Sci Fi, but jeez louise, this is pretty mind melty. Especially when you have a true plot hole! I’m going to call this Major Sklog-servations a small discussion about a major revelation I had during Me and Jamie’s discussions about the film. In this case: In the book the revelation that (spoiler alert!) the aliens can take on human form is a rather well known fact apparently. It is a reason people distrust the army when they come around. In the movie this is not the case, they explicitly trust the army and do not find out about body snatching until the army tells them. The point at which the army tells the audience about this issue is one of crossroads for our protagonist played by Moretz. She has just missed the bus to the army base, she sees the entire refugee camp gunned down in the heat of argument, and she flees into the woods. There is no doubt that she couldn’t have heard or known about the body snatching from the army in the refugee camp … except moments later in her journal she discusses the issues concerning losing trust in humanity when anyone she knows could be an Other. Powerful stuff and a rare actual plot hole (most plot holes are usually just events that stretch credulity, not an actual plot inconsistency). She manages to intuit something inherently non-intuitive (and terrifying), that she cannot ask anyone for help because they may be an other. I would think this is clearly a plot point lost in translating the novel to the screen and either uncaught or left as a minor continuity issue. Fin.