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The 5th Wave

MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for violence and destruction, some sci-fi thematic elements, language and brief teen partying.

Reviewed by: Andrea McAteer

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Sci-Fi Teen Adventure Thriller Adaptation
1 hr. 52 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
January 22, 2016 (wide—2,908 theaters)
DVD: May 3, 2016
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures

trying to save a younger sibling

Aliens (extraterrestrials)

What does the Bible say about intelligent life on other planets? Answer

Are we alone in the universe? Answer

Does Scripture refer to life in space? Answer

questions and answers about the origin of life

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry—What does the Bible say? Answer

dealing with having family members die

Featuring: Chloë Grace MoretzCassiopeia Marie Sullivan
Maika MonroeRinger (“Marika”)
Liev SchreiberColonel Vosch
Nick Robinson … Ben Parish (“Zombie”)
Maria BelloSergeant Reznik
Maggie Siff … Lisa Sullivan
See all »
Director: J Blakeson—“The Disappearance of Alice Creed” (2009)
Producer: Columbia Pictures
GK Films
See all »
Distributor: Distributor: Columbia Pictures. Trademark logo.
Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures

Cassie (Chloë Grace Moretz) is a high school teen whose biggest concern is getting classmate, Ben Parrish (Nick Robinson) to notice her. However, when spacecraft start to arrive (the 1st wave), people grow concerned, and a high school crush becomes less important. But as nothing further happens after the spacecraft appear, life continues on, with the community referring to the aliens as The Others. Eventually, changes begin to happen in waves—a type of electromagnetic pulse renders electronics and machinery inoperable, earthquakes and tsunamis, a mutated avian flu, and finally, the 5th wave, invasion.

After finding herself completely on her own, Cassie ends up getting injured. When she awakens, she’s in a home, her wounds tended to and a handsome young man, Evan Walker (Alex Roe) is taking care of her. Life becomes easier there, away from the chaos and fear, but her ultimate goal of finding her little brother pushes her to leave the comforts of this house, and Evan offers to go with her.

Meanwhile, armed forces are training children to fight The Others. They believe they are the future warriors who will take back the Earth. In fact, Colonel Vosch (Liev Schreiber) quotes the Bible verse 1 Corinthians 13:11.

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up my childish ways.”

He uses this verse to reason with the children that now is the time to rise up and fight. Cassie finds out her brother Sam (Zachary Arthur) is part of this army.

I am purposely leaving out a number of story elements so as not to give any spoilers. I read the book by Rick Yancey. It was a good book, and there are many parts of the book and film I think are best when they unfurl on their own within the story telling. To discuss too much takes away from the enjoyment of the journey that one takes when reading or watching a film.

The film promotes the family unit and Cassie’s love for her father and brother, and how they try to protect and care for each other. (The story of the mother is left out of the film; there is much more detail about her in the book.)

As this movie is rated PG-13, I was nervous about what to expect. While I don’t recall the book becoming inappropriate, I didn’t know if the film would take the characters attractions too far. I was pleased they did not. There is some kissing, and one scene where Evan is in a lake and Cassie finds him. He is only seen waist up, but Cassie appears surprised and turns and leaves. One can assume he does not have anything on in the water, but the scene does not go any further than him being shirtless.

The language is kept to a minimum to start with, but once we met the soldier Ringer (Maika Monroe), it increases. It is unfortunate that in order to portray the tough girl, the character has to have a foul mouth.

There is violence in the movie—the teens carry guns, young children are seen at a firing range, people are shot, dead bodies are shown, and a character is choked with a cord. Honestly, I found the choking scene to be harshest, in that it felt more brutal. Perhaps it is the physicality of it that made it feel that way, whereas scenes with firearms feel more detached.

Here is the curse word count, which actually seems worse than it felt during the film, perhaps because the beginning had very little profanity, and it increased in battle scenes. Words include: “A**” (5), “f**king,” s-word (7), “What the h*ll,” “Oh my G*d” (2), “Oh G*d” (2), “Jesus” (2), “bulls**t,” “hell” (2), “God,” “sh*t” (5) “dumba**.”

There is some suggestive/inappropriate dialog. When talking about Cassie and Ben, a friends says “your parts go together,” a comment about end of the world sex, comment about playing strip poker (which does not happen), and the comment “punch me in the nuts.” There is also a scene early on in which Cassie goes to a party, and I believe she pours herself a beer.

I felt the movie was better than some of the current films aimed at teens/young adults. Whereas to read the objectionable content, it does sound like it could be a more questionable choice. When watching the film, I felt relieved. Perhaps again, that had to do with wondering just how far a PG-13 rating would go, since there is often a big range there. I do have to say, many details and elements of the book are left out—parts that created more character development, more empathy and more back story. The book, in this case, is better than the film, but the film is still enjoyable. I do recommend reading the book, as well.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate to heavy / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments from young people
Positive—The movie was probably my favorite movie, however there were some bad words in it, and there is a couple of scenes where I closed my eyes, and, near the beginning of the movie, there was a partying scene. There is a lot of action and some violence, such as getting shot in the leg, lots of shootings, a few sad moments and a lot of people dying from earthquakes, disease, etc.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
Jordan, age 12 (USA)

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