The 5th Wave Parent Review

Had this been a part of the first wave of post-apocalyptic teen adventure movies, this solid story would have been more impressive. Violence is the production's biggest content issue.

Overall B-

Four waves of attack by an alien race have left earth in state of disaster. Knowing another devastating round is coming, sixteen-year-old Cassie Sullivan (Chloë Grace Moretz) tries to brace for the worst while at the same time trying to save her younger brother (Zackary Arthur).

Violence C-
Sexual Content B-
Profanity C-
Substance Use B+

The 5th Wave is rated PG-13 for violence and destruction, some sci-fi thematic elements, language and brief teen partying.

Movie Review

Here we have a screenplay starring a strong female character living in a dystopian environment where anyone over the age of 30 should be carefully assessed before being trusted. Add to this the opportunity for two young men to take an interest in the pretty girl. Sound familiar? It should, because The 5th Wave is about the fifth movie I can easily recall that includes these elements. It seems the best way to get a book published and optioned as a movie is to put a young protagonist in a violent world and, for bonus points, work a little romance in between the perilous confrontations.

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Cassie Sullivan (Chloë Grace Moretz) is a typical American high school student—at least she’s movie typical. Blonde, beautiful and modestly shy about approaching her football-playing crush, Ben Parish (Nick Robinson), Cassie’s life is pretty fine—until some aliens park their flying saucer right over her neighborhood. Within short order the unseen foe from outer space begins killing off humans by first disabling their power grid with an electromagnetic pulse, followed by earthquakes, floods and disease. Within a half-hour of film time, Cassie moves from her happy place to being a lone girl in the woods with an automatic weapon, ready to kill on sight as she searches for what family she may have left.

Had The 5th Wave been part of the first wave of movies to explore this concept, I’d have been more impressed. The story is relatively solid, although I suspect most audiences won’t be too surprised by the few twists and turns in this plot. Chloe Grace Moretz does an admirable job of playing Katniss… er… I mean Cassie, and the rest of the cast turns in decent performances as well. The problem is we feel like we’ve seen it all before.

However, the repetition of these plot points also leads to the question of how does our entertainment reflect or contribute to adolescent attitudes? Are these frequent depictions of teens living in worlds without parents, where adults are either trying to manipulate or kill them, reflective of a society that isn’t providing for its children? Or is this simply teen-movie-angst—a modern day evolution of a rebel with a cause? That’s not to say there isn’t anything worthwhile here for young people. One possible positive message is the script’s exploration of how societies depend on an ability to trust their members in order to stay stable and sustain a sense of humanity.

Once the mayhem gets started, violence becomes the production’s biggest content issue. Realistic looking neighborhoods are shown in tatters with corpses lying throughout the streets. Cars crash and a plane falls out of the sky as Cassie and a few of her classmates look out the school window. As civilization dissolves, gun violence intensifies, and so do the portrayals of on-screen shootings and a mass killing. There is also a scene of teen sensuality with implied sexual activity. Profanities are relatively infrequent, although a single sexual expletive is still included.

Despite following in the footsteps of its genre predecessors, The 5th Wave is engaging and Cassie’s initial love for her family is commendable. With two more books to come in this series, the next titled The Infinite Sea, there’s a good chance another wave is on its way.

Directed by J Blakeson. Starring Chloë Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe, Maggie Siff, Zackary Arthur. Running time: 112 minutes. Theatrical release January 22, 2016. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in The 5th Wave here.

The 5th Wave Parents Guide

As Cassie watches the methodical destruction of mankind, she makes some observations about the methods the aliens are using. What things did they do to separate the weak from the strong? What weapons do they employ to kill the survivors? In what ways are they psychological as well as physical?

Why is trust the glue that hold society together. Why does robbing humans of that quality also rob them of their humanity? What would you do if you lived in a world where you could not depend on, or predict, the motives of others? What human traits are mentioned that might save mankind?

More about the movie:
The 5th Wave is based on a novel by Rick Yancey and is one of a trio of books. The next title, The Infinite Sea, released in September 2014. The final book, The Last Star releases in May 2016.