Action Adaptation

'The 5th Wave' Blu-ray Review: A not-so-alien twist on YA thrillers

May 3, 2016Ben MK

The 5th Wave is the latest young-adult book series to hit the big screen, and stars ChloĆ« Grace Moretz as Cassie Sullivan, an Ohio teenager whose world is turned upside down when aliens stake a claim on our planet. Now, after surviving the aliens' first four waves of attack, Cassie must team up with a mysterious — and hunky — stranger named Evan (Alex Roe) to rescue her younger brother Sam (Zackary Arthur) from the fifth and final wave.

Directed by J Blakeson and adapted by Susannah Grant, Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner from author Rick Yancey's book of the same name, the film initially positions itself as something of a cross between Independence Day and The Road, as an ominous alien ship hovers in the sky while what's left of humanity hunkers down in the middle of the woods. However, its semi-unique tone soon gives way to something much more familiar, when the US Army, led by a hard-nosed Colonel named Vosch (Liev Schrieber), shows up to recruit the kids to battle the alien invasion.

When a few of these kids (including Jurassic World's Nick Robinson, The Guest's Maika Monroe and The Grand Budapest Hotel's Tony Revolori) figure out that not everything is as it seems, it marks the beginning of yet another been-there-done-that rebellion. Meanwhile, Cassie, who's been separated from her brother, struggles to make her way to find him. But the closer she gets to doing so, the closer the movie gets to feeling more like another cookie-cutter teen thriller, with characters and plot points copy-and-pasted from the YA movies that have come before.

Otherwise, The 5th Wave does feature a rather respectable cast that also includes Maria Bello and Ron Livingston, which only makes it all the more confounding why these actors would agree to appear in such an ill-conceived and poorly-executed film in the first place. In the end, though, it may be the fans of Yancey's novel who will decide the ultimate fate of this movie adaptation, which has very obviously been designed as a franchise-starter.

Although fans of the book may be disappointed with the quality of this adaptation, they can at least find solace in the technical merits of The 5th Wave's Blu-ray presentation. From a visual standpoint, the film is a knockout, highlighted by the crisp details present in faces, clothing and environments, the way that hues of purple, orange and green stand out against the otherwise earth-toned color palette, and the rock-solid black levels. As for the primary DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, it's pretty much the same scenario. Dialogue and music are well balanced, and the sound design receives an extra "oomph" from elements like an approaching tsunami, the odd explosion and intermittent gunfire.

Sony's one-disc Blu-ray release includes an UltraViolet digital copy and the following extras:

  • Feature Commentary with J Blakeson and ChloĆ« Grace Moretz - The director and star talk about how they each became involved in the project, Cassie's journey throughout the book and the film, the cast, the filming locations, the production design, the editing, the costume design and more.
  • Deleted Scenes (25:10) - Eleven scenes ("Party Extended," "Dance In Car," "This Might Be The Next Step In Our Evolution," "Sam and Cassie Run Home," "Mom Dying," "Meet Hutchfield," "Sam Arrives At Base, Thinks He Sees Cassie," "Meet Squad 53," "New Squad Leader," "Cassie and Evan Love Scene" and "Trackers Explode, Cassie Fights Reznik").
  • Gag Reel (3:17) - Flubs and silliness from the set.
  • Inside The 5th Wave (14:26) - A look at the film's story, the cast, the visual effects, the production design and the stunt work.
  • Training Squad 53 (5:09) - A look at the physical, combat and weapons training underwent by the young actors who portray the film's child soldiers.
  • The 5th Wave Survival Guide (2:11) - The cast give viewers their tips on surviving an alien invasion.
  • Sammy On The Set (6:57) - Actor Zackary Arthur interviews director J Blakeson and various crew members on the set about their roles, their favorite parts of their job, and their advice for young filmmakers.
  • Creating A New World (5:58) - Visual Effects Supervisor Scott Stokdyk talks about the film's visual effects, specifically as they pertain to the alien mothership, the earthquake and tsunami sequence, and the US military base that appear in the movie.

The 5th Wave is available from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment as of May 3rd, 2016. The Blu-ray features English and French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, and English and French Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English, English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 52 mins.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on January 21st, 2016.

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