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The 5th Wave Blu-ray Review

The 5th Wave (2016) movie poster The 5th Wave

Theatrical Release: January 22, 2016 / Running Time: 112 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: J Blakeson / Writers: Rick Yancey (novel); Susannah Grant, Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner (screenplay)

Cast: Chlo Grace Moretz (Cassie Sullivan), Nick Robinson (Ben "Zombie" Parish), Ron Livingston (Oliver Sullivan), Maggie Siff (Lisa Sullivan), Alex Roe (Evan Walker), Maria Bello (Sergeant Reznik), Maika Monroe (Ringer), Zackary Arthur (Sam Sullivan), Liev Schreiber (Colonel Vosch), Tony Revolori (Dumbo), Talitha Bateman (Teacup), Nadji Jeter (Poundcake), Alex MacNicoll (Flintstone)

Buy The 5th Wave from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + Digital 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray DVD Instant Video

They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. If that's so, then author Suzanne Collins and the creative team behind The Hunger Games films must be feeling very flattered the past few years.
Since the original film launched to blockbuster numbers in 2012, dystopian YA fiction has been all the rage and filmmakers keep hoping the right adaptation can be "the next Hunger Games." The like-minded Divergent and Maze Runner movies have succeeded enough to sustain sequels of diminishing returns, which is at least more than can be said for the Twilight-esque one-and-done flops Beautiful Creatures and Vampire Academy.

The 5th Wave, the latest play for that teen-friendly post-apocalyptic goldmine, performed in the vast chasm between those two classes, which probably isn't enough to yield a sequel, but is probably enough to not set back the careers of those who made it. Adapted from the first book in Rick Yancey's 2013-2016 trilogy, The 5th Wave opens with a bit of post-apocalypticism, then journeys back to normal times, then takes on the form of a disaster movie to explain this apocalypse.

Aliens called "The Others" hit planet Earth with an electromagnetic pulse that knocks out electricity and running water, while also downing planes and crashing cars. That's the first wave. Then come floods wiping out islands and coastal cities. Birds carry a deadly virus that eliminates most of the human population.

Evan Walker (Alex Roe) shows Cassie Sullivan (Chlo Grace Moretz) how to disarm in "The 5th Wave."

As is increasingly the case in these types of movies, our protagonist is a strong young female. Ohio's Cassie Sullivan (Chlo Grace Moretz), her pestilence-widowed father (Ron Livingston), and her younger brother Sammy (Zackary Arthur) make it to a refugee camp, where there appears to be strength and safety in numbers, as well as hot meals, first aid, and even the U.S. Army.

The Sullivans are all separated, and we stick mostly with Cassie, who ends up in a house in the woods, being cared for by Evan Walker (Alex Roe). Having learned that The Others are now able to assume human form, the two are suspicious of one another. They're also attracted to one another, naturally. The two of them wise up to conspiracy and make their way to the Army base where child soldiers are being trained to identify and kill The Others while being implanted with a tracking device in the back of their necks.

Since these kind of movies always require at least the hint of a love triangle, there is also Ben Parish (Jurassic World's Nick Robinson), a football player from Cassie's high school who has been nicknamed "Zombie" and given a rank of importance at the Army base.

Zombie (Nick Robinson), the child soldier formerly known as Ben Parish, gets implanted with a tracking device by Sergeant Reznik (Maria Bello).

The 5th Wave feels like a double-length CW pilot. That isn't inherently bad; over a million people tune into "The 100" each week.
But you do expect more of a wide release theatrical film from a major studio with a none too modest budget of $38 million. You also expect more of Moretz, whose promising start in standout films like Let Me In and Hugo has given way to routine fare like this. You can't blame her. This certainly pays better than those films did and if dystopian sci-fi is good enough for Jennifer Lawrence, what young actress would be crazy enough to turn her nose up at it?

Unfortunately, The 5th Wave is a far cry from The Hunger Games in quality. It is more on the order of Divergent, only without as obvious youth appeal. The screenplay may be attributed to a trio of accomplished scribes: Oscar nominee Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich, Pocahontas, Ever After), Oscar winner Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind, The Client), and Jeff Pinkner (a J.J. Abrams vet of "Lost" and "Alias"). But none of them seems to know why this story should be told or how to tell it in a way that resonates. None the wiser is director J Blakeson, making his sophomore feature six years after his indie debut, The Disappearance of Alice Creed, earned acclaim. If nothing else, I guess the four of them are all welcome at The CW, should they ever be hard up for work.

With as much of Sony's standard product placement as social commentary, The 5th Wave does little to inspire you to start reading the novels or to believe that The Hunger Games was merely the start of a golden age for YA novels and feature films. It's starting to look more and more like "the next Hunger Games" won't be modeled so closely after The Hunger Games.

Grossing $35 million domestically and $109 M worldwide, The 5th Wave sold far fewer tickets than even the disappointing latest Divergent movie and probably shelved any plans for a sequel without underperforming enough to attract attention as an infamous bomb. The film hits DVD, Blu-ray, and UltraHD 4K on Tuesday from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The 5th Wave: Blu-ray + Digital HD cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.39:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English, French), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish, English Descriptive Video Service, French Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled in English
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Suggested Retail Price: $34.99
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Blue Keepcase with Side Snap in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on DVD ($26.99 SRP), 4K UltraHD + Blu-ray ($45.99 SRP), and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Naturally, The 5th Wave sports fine picture and sound on Blu-ray. The 2.40:1 transfer shows off the largely dark, shadowy visuals with the pristine and spotless quality you expect. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio mix delivers nicely on some of the disaster sequences and is fine throughout.

Maria Bello shows off her silly side in the gag reel. Maika Monroe gives an update from the set in "Inside The 5th Wave."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray's extras begin with an audio commentary by director J Blakeson and star Chlo Grace Moretz. Who among us hasn't wanted to listen to these two individuals speak over a movie for nearly two hours?!
They actually make for an easy listen with their light-hearted yet informative screen-specific talk. Among the topics tackled are the project's development, their filming experiences, Blakeson's undetectable influences (Ferris Bueller's Day Off), and Alex Roe's facial hair.

On the video side, we begin with eleven deleted scenes (25:10). They include an extended version of the party scene, an additional scene of Cassie's mother (Maggie Siff), two scenes involving obnoxious pipsqueak drill instructor Tank, a Cassie-Evan love scene, and more of Maria Bello's absurd character. No commentary is offered to explain their deletion, but it's pretty obvious that none of them is good enough to miss in a film that already underwhelms.

Next up is a gag reel (3:17), which finds the cast cracking up and messing up amidst the ridiculous material they're working with. At least they appear to be having fun!

"Inside The 5th Wave" (14:26) is an all-purpose making-of featurette which presents a standard blend of behind-the-scenes footage, talking heads, and clips. It takes a little bit of a production diary approach with cast and crew speaking from the set and explaining what is being shot that day.

Young actors are schooled on being child soldiers in "Training Squad 53." Zack Arthur learns about filmmaking by speaking with crew members awkwardly.

"Training Squad 53" (5:09) offers a behind-the-scenes look at the child actors' military training for their soldier training in the film.

"The 5th Wave Survival Guide" (2:11) is a short
which has characters address the camera with tips for withstanding the alien apocalypse.

"Sammy on the Set" (6:57) tags along with child actor Zack Arthur as he asks crew members about their work on the film.

"Creating a New World" (5:58) discusses the design of the alien ship and the effects used to depict the various waves of their planetary invasion.

Finally, "Previews" repeats the trailers that play automatically at disc insertion for Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, Money Monster, Ratter, and The Driftless Area. The 5th Wave's own trailer is not included here.

The static, scored menu gives us a variation of the poster/cover art.

Two inserts accompany the full-color disc in the side-snapped keepcase, which is topped by an embossed slipcover. The first supplies a code and directions for the Digital HD with UltraViolet and also provides a code for getting another Sony movie for $4.99 shipped. The second supplies a link and code to read an exclusive sneak peek from the upcoming final book in Rick Yancey's bestselling 5th Wave series.

Cassie Sullivan (Chlo Grace Moretz) covers her ears as aliens invade the planet in "The 5th Wave."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The 5th Wave might seem special to those who have yet to discover The Hunger Games. Less sheltered viewers will find this post-apocalyptic franchise launcher derivative and unremarkable. Sony's Blu-ray delivers a fine feature presentation plus plenty of extras, but this is strictly a one-time viewing and even then only for teens with interest or an appreciation for the books.

Buy The 5th Wave from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray + Digital / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
New to Disc: The Hunger Games: Complete 4-Film Collection The Driftless Area Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Chlo Grace Moretz: Hugo Clouds of Sils Maria Let Me In The Equalizer Dark Shadows Kick-Ass
Nick Robinson: Jurassic World The Kings of Summer | Maika Monroe: It Follows
Divergent The 100: The Complete First Season Vampire Academy Beautiful Creatures Skyline
Directed by J Blakeson: The Disappearance of Alice Creed | Written by Susannah Grant: Pocahontas The Soloist
Written by Jeff Pinkner: The Amazing Spider-man 2 | Written by Akiva Goldsman: Winter's Tale Angels & Demons

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Reviewed May 1, 2016.



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