Monday, February 1, 2016

Book-to-movie review: The 5th Wave

The book has made waves on an international scale, but just how does the film adaptation of The 5th Wave compare?

Disclaimer: Review originally appears on Channel24, one of Women24's sister websites.

This review should really be titled: “I watched The 5th Wave so that you don’t have to.”

As a book lover, I suffer from the eternal delusion that somehow, somewhere, someone will perfect the art of adapting a book to screen.  This fantasy of mine is a curse because I really should know better by now.

Yes, I’ve seen glimpses of brilliance on the odd occasion, but overall, many a book lover (myself included) would tell you that THE BOOK IS ALWAYS BETTER. 

And never has it applied more to a movie than this instance.

In light of this, here’s my advice:

If you are going to watch the movie, read the book first (check out my review here) .  If you’ve read the book, don’t watch the movie (unless you’re very curious, in which case even then, you should wait till it’s out on DVD). 

I know. It’s a bit of a double-whammy, isn’t it?

Here’s my problem with it though.

What should have been a raw and brutal dystopian tale of survival and perseverance comes across as being nothing more than a limp, insipid and uninspired movie filled with unenthusiastic teenagers trying to survive and save the world in the midst of devastating alien attacks.

I’m not sure what screenplay writers Susannah Grant, Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner were thinking when they first adapted Rick Yancey’s best-selling novel for the big screen, but what they’ve given us is a watered down and almost censored version of a book, that by all accounts, is one of the best written sci-fi novels for young adults.

It doesn’t help that the acting is rather subpar.

Chloƫ Grace Moretz delivers a luke-warm performance in the role of Cassie.

She certainly has a few action-filled moments and provides us with glimpses of her potential as a badass, butt-kicking heroine, but that’s unfortunately marred by choppy scenes that change perspective and location too quickly, and often don’t always make sense within the context given to us (This is why I think it’s better going into the movie having read the book).

Nick Robinson makes for a rather dull Ben Parish, whose role as the teen soldier who was rescued and recruited to fight against the invaders, can best be described as lacklustre. 

Most disappointing of all is Liev Schrieber who is all bark and no bite in the role of the vicious, cold and calculating Colonel Vosch (whose book persona is a hell of a lot scarier than the feeble and underwhelming commander whose role is greatly reduced in the film version).

I can argue the case for Alex Roe, whose role as the mysterious Evan Walker was played with at least some degree of authenticity, but like Moretz, he too, fell victim to bad filming decisions and not having his character being as developed as it is in the book. 

A real pity, if you ask me.

You know how you can say that with some films, they make you want to read the book? This is unfortunately not one of them.  

And that breaks my heart because the book is such an incredible read.  What I watched was definitely not what I read, and while I understand that there will always be changes that are made when it comes to book-to-movie adaptations, surely it’s not too much to ask for it not to be stripped of its essence while offering nothing but the bare bones in its stead?

What a waste.

I hope the rest of this trilogy is left alone.

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