Fans of Yancey's gripping sci-fi thriller will wonder how his page-turning action and riveting, charming characters got transformed into this flat, humorless, and disappointing movie. Although Moretz is certainly up to the task of playing Cassie, from the movie's very first scene, the on-screen Cassie bears little resemblance to the Cassie of the page, especially in the set up. While edits and trims from the source material are to be expected in the process of creating a film adaptation, THE 5TH WAVE strips several of the key players of everything that makes them not just likable but also instrumental to the story. Cassie's relationship with Evan is so compressed that he's reduced to being no more than hot and stoic. By the time he's making declarations of affection, the audience has no choice but to laugh at the cheesy lines -- and not in an endearing way.
Everything that made Cassie and Evan's slow-burning connection feel realistic on the page has been cut, including the humor. In fact, the humor is missing from most of the film. As the young soldiers deployed to fight the enemy, Robinson is fine as Ben, and Maika Monroe is reminiscent of Jena Malone's Hunger Games character, Joanna, as Ringer, the tough-as-nails recruit who's the only one to question Vosch's authority. Unfortunately, some of the other supporting characters from the book barely get a couple of lines between them, including Tony Revolori as Dumbo, Parish's intelligent squad-mate. Schreiber earns his paycheck with a couple of bombastic speeches, and Maria Bello sports a distracting accent (and looks positively evil) as one of the military officers in charge of the kids. On the bright side, if enough of the novel's fans turn out to see it, perhaps the filmmakers will summon a stronger script for the second film in the trilogy.