The first wave was vampiric in nature, as Twilight flooded our movie theatres. Katniss Everdeen proved herself a warrior, leading the second wave with The Hunger Games. The challenges of being true to yourself were explored in the Divergent third wave, and the fourth wave saw the arrival of The Maze Runner. Now, it’s time to strap in for the fifth wave – conveniently titled The 5th Wave – which is the latest attempt to capture that all-important ‘Millenials box-office dollar’ with a teens-save-the-day literary adaptation. Here, some pesky aliens suddenly appear to declare war on Earth and unleash wave after wave of strategic blows to the planet.
Directed by J. Blakeson (The Disappearance Of Alice Creed), The 5th Wave was adapted for the screen by Academy Award nominee Susannah Grant – who is highly experienced in the process, having delivered screenplays such as Erin Brockovich and Charlotte’s Web. The overwhelmingly white cast, led by Moretz, is rounded out by Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan), Maika Monroe (The Guest), Nick Robinson (Jurassic World), Maria Bello (Prisoners) and Ron Livingston (Drinking Buddies), among others – each filling roles that fans may feel diverge from the source material a little.
It’s hard to determine what, if anything, distinguishes this tale from all the other dystopian, apocalyptic allegories for puberty. We have the attractive female protagonist reluctantly thrust into the role of leading a group of attractive white people, against a seemingly overwhelming threat to their established ‘normal’ lives, while also dealing with a bit of a love triangle. It is a transformative experience for her, during which she learns lessons about love, romance and trust, as well as the harsh realities of the wider world. Unfortunately, despite having what seems to be a capable female lead, it is still the case that one of her male admirers “may become her final hope.” Might we one day have a ‘Young Adult’ story – other than The Hunger Games – in which the female lead is her own last hope?
The most significant thing to note about this trailer is that it is an exercise in obfuscation. Those that know the plot of the Rick Yancey book upon which The 5th Wave is based will be aware that this preview footage manages to hide many of the big revelations about character and intent – something that is clearly designed to ensure surprises for the audience on release. This is a risky move, however, given that the result is a trailer that gives the project a sense of being Super 8 on steroids, rather than accurately communicating the true darkness of the narrative. We will see if this marketing strategy proves effective when the film is released in January 2016.