Usually, summer blockbusters include a good alien invasion or two, generally starring Will Smith in some capacity. We’re easing into fall, though, so I was surprised to see a trailer for another alien invasion movie, The Fifth Wave, floating around. The movie is set to come out early next year, and unfortunately, doesn’t look as fun or as diverse as recent alien invasion movies have been.
In The Fifth Wave, aliens attack in waves, thus the title—like almost all aliens, they want to take over the Earth, and doing it in Hollywood graphics and numbers is apparently the way to go. They take out Earth’s electricity and shorelines in quick succession, infect most of the survivors with a plague, and are in the process of hunting down the rest. Our protagonist, Cassie, is one of the few survivors. Since the aliens can look like humans, she doesn’t know who she can trust, and almost shoots the first (supposedly) non-alien human she comes across. The two of them later, of course, decide to team up to save Cassie’s brother.
Like Home, The Fifth Wave is based on a book (also called The Fifth Wave) which I haven’t read yet. Unlike with Home, though, the trailer doesn’t make me at all interested in someday finding the book and reading it. If there are complexities in the book beyond “aliens invade, pretty white girl protag saves Earth”, they aren’t expressed in the trailer. The story just seems generic and boring. Furthermore, save for some bystanders, the trailer also seems pretty white. Yes, that does matter, even in an alien invasion action-adventure film, because it’s again perpetuating the idea that only white people can survive apocalyptic events. (I guess I’ll never have to worry about existing in a dystopia, except for how America already kind of is one.)
Hollywood has a tendency of whitewashing its leads, though, as they did in the Hunger Games, Divergent, the much, much-maligned Avatar movie, and many others. Since I haven’t read the book, I tried to find out if The Fifth Wave was just another unfortunate case of whitewashing, and that only seems to be the case with one character, Ringer. In the book, she’s described as three-quarters Asian (probably Japanese) and one-quarter Apache, but it looks like they cast a white girl to play her. The other characters are either explicitly white or don’t seem to be described, so some of the fault here can probably be laid at author Rick Yancey’s feet too, unfortunately. It doesn’t make me any more interested in reading the book—if I want to read an alien invasion story, I’ll stick with Home’s source material, The True Meaning of Smekday.
The Fifth Wave premieres Jan 16th, 2016 in the U.S. Let me know if you’ll be seeing it, if the book is actually really good and the trailer misrepresents it entirely, or if you, like me, will also be skipping this movie.