So the first review of the year. January release. Not good usually. Examples? Sure!
Let’s face it January is mostly garbage so the Oscar bait at Christmas and whatever other studio juggernaut came up at the end of the month. *stares at Star Wars* It just isn’t a good month for film. You can fully expect that the studio just dumps something they have no faith in and hope they get another Cloverfield.
Did they get it here?
Based on a YA sci fi novel by Rick Yancy, the film covers the story of a young teenage girl who survives several waves of an alien invasion and her quest to save her brother. The first wave is an EMP that takes out technology, the second is an earthquake/flooding to take out coastal regions, the third disease, and fourth …well watch the movie to learn about the 4th and 5th waves. It’s not a bad setup and the overall execution is pretty solid on the narrative with the story taking place in two places with simultaneous arcs happening with the girl and her brother.
The novel was adapted for the screen by Susannah Grant (Erin Brokovich, Pocahontas – yes that one), Akiva Goldsman (Insurgent, I Am Legend, and…and), and Jeff Pinkner (Amazing Spiderman 2 and a lot of TV). Most of these guys are also producers in their own right and spent a lot of time with the TV crowd. They have a pretty good pedigree of things just above mediocre as the group with Grant being lauded for Brokovich. So with that in mind how is the overall plot so…Ok? I mean the dialogue is Ok. The Plot is Ok. The contrivances are Ok. It’s Ok. Ok?
Maybe it’s the director? J Blakeson, who gave us the less impressive sequel to The Descent. I can see so much in the writing and direction that wants to be more than it is. There’s nuggets of something more here that just don’t come to fruition. One of the plot points requires everyone’s IQ to drop by about 50 points. The entire row of people in front of me in the theatre had the same reaction I did in one of the moments with a Spock level eye brow raise.
That being said, it annoyed in the moment and was gone. That is because of the actors involved. Chloë Grace Moretz leads the cast in admirable fashion bringing a natural charm and humanity in what typically is a blandish role without much character. She (with some help from the script) deftly avoids some tropes and charms us as she glides into others. Helping the movie along is also Nick Robinson (the older brother from Jurassic World); and while his role is largely reserved he does a lot with a few expressions which keeps him from being a cardboard cut out with lines. The same cannot be said of Alex Roe, who tries. He really really tries and just can’t be more than the stereotype his role gave him.
Production wise? The effects are just slightly better than average. The flooding is getting to the point of being over used. Since the Japan disaster a few years back and Sumatra before that everyone is in awe and fear of the Tsunami so any disaster needs one now that we can see what they look like. A few other tricks aren’t bad, not great, just not bad. There’s very few eye rolls from the effects side which made me happy. Some of the transitions were done fairly well. I had to admit there was a good colour palette from the cinematographer to reinforce which of the two arcs you were dealing with. Very intentional and very functional. The music does what you expect, but otherwise is simply pleasant.
Despite how middle of the road this sounds, the movie was kinda enjoyable. I had moments of fun amidst moments of meh. While this may seem like a compromise (and it kinda is), I am ok with that. I do expect more of movies. YOU should expect more of movies. But if I even have a bit of fun I have no problem rewarding the film with that faint praise. It’s better than a meh and that means something since at least I felt *something* about it.
It does some things I haven’t seen before. There is inspiration here, I think if the Three Writer rule had not been invoked it may have been an even better film. Something more than Ok.
Though for a January? OK is good. I will take the win I can get.
Will you buy it?
Actually – yeah. I think I will. There’s stuff to the main characters arc I really enjoyed seeing handled.
Do you recommend it?
Ahhhh maybe. If you like Young adult style films? Sure. Go right ahead. You’ll probably like this more than some Hollywood has tried to give.
So that’s it. First review of the year. Could have been A LOT worse.