“The 5th Wave” Movie Review and Interview with Author Rick Yancey

In the new sci-fi thriller “The 5th Wave,” lead actress Chloe Grace Moretz takes on an alien invasion that tests the will of humanity and the power of hope. 

Based off the best-selling young adult series by Rick Yancey “The 5th Wave” is the story of Cassie (Chloe Grace Moretz) a high school girl from Ohio with a normal life and a normal family. The film starts off with seemingly average depictions of teen culture with Cassie going to a party with her friends, crushing on a football player, and coming home before curfew. However, these are the last “normal” aspects of human life that we see for the rest of the story. The world is changed by a visit from a giant unknown “object” in sky that appears to be from another planet. For a while, it remains dormant, or so they thought. These visitors (quickly given the name “The Others”) begin to initiate “waves” of destruction with the intention to wipe out all humankind without damaging the Earth and it’s resources with no real motivation in sight. Cassie is caught up in the chaos and various twists and turns place her with the harsh reality that she and her family might not make it to the end of this invasion. The stakes come to an all time high when she’s separated from her brother and vows that nothing will stop her from getting him back, not even “The Others.”

A week prior to the film’s release I had the chance to participate in a conference call with the author of “The 5th Wave,” Rick Yancey. He discussed writing the series, his opinions on the adaptation, and his excitement about the release of the film. The other colleges and their interviewers are credited below:

MIRANDA (MICHIGAN JOURNAL): What is the one thing you hope to see come out of this movie adaptation?
RICK YANCEY: The one thing that I hope to see? Oh gosh, I don’t know you know I haven’t seen it yet, but I was there for some of the filming, and from what I have seen, I’m very encouraged. I think the filmmakers were very cognizant of the fact that what really sets this story apart is the heart of it, and the characters and what drives them as ordinary people in just extraordinary circumstances. That’s the kind of story I love to read and to see on film, and, you know, I think they worked really hard to capture the essence of that.
BRANDON WAGNER (EMORY WHEEL):As an author, what did you think of the process of adaptation? Were you privy to it, was there any trepidation you had moving
your book from a novel to the big screen…was there anything you were surprised by?
RICK YANCEY: That’s a great question. I think I was probably luckier than a lot of writers who have their original work adapted…the rights to the film were picked up even before I finished the book. They were picked up shortly after the book was purchased by penguin publishing, and I had meetings very early on with executives and producers and also had some interaction with the screenwriters, so I was in that process pretty much from the very beginning. Although I did not have a hand in adapting my work, which is probably a good idea, because movies are not books and books are not movies, and there are demands that are narratively possible in books and not in movies and vice versa and I always try to keep that in mind as we move through the process. But, the short answer is I was pretty involved. I wasn’t there on a daily basis because I was working on another book at the time, but the days I was there I had regular talks with the producers and the director. From what I have seen, I think that fans of the book will be very pleased how the filmmakers have captured those core stories and how they built the characters.
NIMAH QUADRI (LOYOLA PHOENIX): What was the deeper message you were trying to get across from the book at first and what do you hope to achieve from the movie and what kind of message do you want the movie’s audience to achieve?
RICK YANCEY: Oh wow, especially when you write for young people you have to be careful about the whole message thing, because nobody likes to be preached at, especially young people. Message is something that I kind of let grow organically as the story goes. My first goal is to never bore people. As a writer particularly in this genre, your major goal is always to entertain; you can tell a deep story and have a very reverberating message, but it better be that the story comes first and that’s what I always focus on. But, I will say, as I wrote this series and the last book is coming out in May, the story kind of unfolded for me as the writer. It goes beyond the message of “humans will do anything to survive and we are like cockroaches in the sense that we are indestructible.” That’s one of the reasons we triumphed over nature, but for me the deeper message is about the bonds that bind us together in the human family and that how, even an advanced species as presented in the books really has no answer for that in terms of engineering our own demise. I think that’s one of the positive messages of the story is that it’s very difficult to eradicate humanity out of humans. Just as tribalism and hatred and prejudice and bias exist in us, so do the opposite side of that coin, you know, love and the ability to sacrifice our own personal needs for somebody else which is remarkable and very hard to explain when you start talking about survival of the fittest and Darwinian concepts, the idea of altruism and sacrificing yourself for a greater cause. So I guess if there’s some kind of message in the story that would be it.
TRENT LIRA (COOGRADIO.COM): I just wanted to ask, as I think your story after having read the book is very unique, but I know a lot of young people are very familiar with this genre and with alien invasion, dystopian themes. What do you think sets apart your book and movie from the stories that have been told in the past, and what compelled you to write this way?
RICK YANCEY: I wouldn’t call it dystopian…there’s still society left, I think the alien invaders are staying but they’re not exactly setting up society. They’re doing the exact opposite, they’re actually trying to blow society apart. That’s one key difference to some of the dystopias that are out there. I think it’s an incredibly popular genre where there’s still room for exploration to take different aspects of the genre and to play with them. This story is unique in that it presents a worldwide phenomena that is happening but also very intimate and human at the same time. This is why it’s told through different points of view and narrowed in on a particular story, which, in the first book is Cassie trying to find her little brother. This makes it very human and very intimate and very real in that sense. I tried very hard not to go too far afield as some books in the genre will do–it really starts to strain believability that these characters are actually able to achieve what they are achieving. I try to always keep it grounded in what I love, which is a story where you have ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. My litmus was “how would I react in a situation that there characters faced?” What would be my choices or my goals throughout this story, instead of just trying to give thrills for thrills sake. What was the second part of your question?
TRENT LIRA (COOGRADIO.COM): What influenced you to write in this genre? Was it something in your younger days or was it movies or…
RICK YANCEY: Well I always loved science fiction, it was one of my very earliest loves. Some of the earliest science fiction writers like Arthur C. Clarke wrote in accessible ways for young people. They weren’t categorized as young adult books but they were certainly accessible to young readers. This was my influence when it came to science fiction. Modern stylistic choices that were made? I was always fascinated by books which were told from multiple points of view, because I thought it opened up so many possibilities structurally for books, and also because it kind of gives you a look through multiple eyeballs about a situation that it going on. A conscious choice that I made when I wrote these books was to tell the story not from some sort of omniscient point of view but actually really grounded inside the heads of different characters.
NEELOU GOODARZI (THE EGALITARIAN): Tobey Maguire said that your writing is wonderfully cinematic. How do you think that played a part in the production of this movie and just in having your vision and story told as true to the books as possible?
RICK YANCEY: I didn’t know that Tobey Maguire said that! Did he? That was nice! I have a background in visual arts –I was in the theatre when I was in high school and college, and a little bit beyond college as well. I did a little bit of writing for theatre, directing, acting, and then in my writing, I turned to script writing and was doing screenplays. I was fascinated by the whole medium of film and of course the theatre arts, so when I turned to prose, I tend to approach stories in a very visual, very visceral, sort of immediate way, which is why I suppose it’s most comfortable for me to write in first person. I just love writing in first person because you get to slip in and out of a character’s head and heart and skin. I think that’s directly owing to my background, my first loves of theatre and film. So that’s probably where he’s picking up on the fact that now when I write prose, it tends to be very visual sort of stuff. That’s what the cinema is, it’s very visual.
Thanks to Moroch and Coog Radio for the opportunity to see the film and speak with Rick. “The 5th Wave” is in theaters now!
By Trent Lira
Interviews

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