The sci-fi disaster movie The 5th Wave starts very promisingly in its own apocalyptic fashion, but then turns into yet another teen flick along the lines of the Maze Runner, Divergent and Hunger Games franchises. It becomes increasingly dreary and derivative – and ends in a way that suggests several more mind-numbing sequels will soon be washing over us.
The early scenes, in which the mysterious aliens (known as The Others) are first laying waste to humanity, are the best. For some unspecified reason, these aliens need the Earth's resources but they won't want "us", the humans. They launch wave after wave of attacks, crippling the power system and unleashing pestilence and plague.
As we are shown devastated cities, biblical floods and even a shot of Tower Bridge in London being snapped in half, the special effects are top-notch. The same can't be said for the plotting, dialogue or the performances.
Chloë Grace Moretz plays Cassie Sullivan, the normal, all-American high-school girl who turns into a Katniss Everdeen-like warrior once the alien assaults start in earnest. The film-makers cross-cut between Cassie's misadventures and those of various teenagers (including her doe-eyed little brother) recruited by the US army to fight back against the aliens. An outrageously contrived plot twist doesn't help as the storyline stutters.
Part of the problem here is the clumsy way the film-makers combine teen movie tropes with dystopian sci-fi. In amid all the death and destruction, there's still time for some very incongruous romance. Large dollops of mawkishness are also thrown in. Cassie's goal isn't so much to save the world as to reunite her kid brother with his beloved teddy bear.