January 21, 2015
The trailer defined the scenario for us. From out of the blue, aliens (called "The Others") have taken over the planet. The first wave deprived the world of electricity or any other form of energy. The second wave drowned the world with water. The third wave infected the world with a deadly bird flu virus. The fourth wave had the aliens incorporate themselves and take over human hosts. The fifth wave was actual war and takeover. While it showed a young girl evading capture, the trailer did not give any much else away. It did make me curious enough to watch this movie.
The first half of the film simply expanded what the trailer already told us about this alien invasion. We follow Cassie, a typical highschool girl from Ohio. Her life was turned upside-down by the first three waves when she was left alone to fend for herself without her parents and separated from her younger brother Sam. Along the way, she encounters a young man Evan (Alex Roe) who was helping her recover from an injury and search for Sam. Cassie finds herself attracted to this mysterious guy, yet because of his unusual behavior, she can't shake off her suspicions that he may be one of the Others.
Cassie was played by Chloe Grace Moretz. From "Kick-Ass" to "If I Stay", this young actress is undoubtedly very talented. However, in this film, try as she may, the material was simply too cheesy for her to save. The film became nonsensical for me when Moretz can still maintain her fresh look even if there had been no more fresh running water since the first wave. I felt sorry that she had to do that embarrassing (and laughable) scene where Cassie chances upon a bare-torsoed Evan bathing in the lake. It was pretty hard to take the rest of the film seriously after that scene.
I had no idea that this was going to turn out to be another one of those dystopian Young Adult films with child/teen warriors, like "The Hunger Games", "Divergent" and "Maze Runner". Based on the open ending, this seems to bound to be a trilogy too, if its box office fate allows. This realization was confirmed when I saw in the closing credits that it was based on a book by Rick Yancey. This book was published in 2013 and yes, it is the first book of a future trilogy.
There is a looming love triangle as well, between Cassie, Evan and Cassie's school crush Ben Parish (Nick Robinson). After the fourth wave, Ben (codename Zombie) became a squad leader of a youth army organized by Col. Vosch (Liev Schreiber) to fight during the fifth wave, until he discovered a major kink in the truth that needed to be untangled. The two guys are good-looking blokes, so that would ensure the teen girl fanbase required to make films like this succeed.
The premise of the alien invasion started out strong. However, the execution by new director J Blakeson was slow, boring and uninteresting. When it degenerated into an all-too-familiar teen romance plot by the second half, it just became too corny to bear. It frankly did not look too promising for a sequel for me since this genre is already over-done. However, since the second Yancey book in the series "The Infinite Sea" is already out, that sequel might still come to pass. 4/10.