Michael Bergeron
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Meds and Aliens

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If you took the recent slate of YA novels turned into movies – Divergent, Maze Runner, Hunger Games, Twilight – and put them in a blender you would have The 5th Wave. The good news is that 5th Wave takes those tropes and covers them with a retro sci-fi vibe, which is to say that 5th Wave offers a few beats of Bradbury or Heinlein.2016_the_5th_wave-wide

The 5th Wave also has a Red Dawn spine, and that goes a long way in establishing the platform for a series of sequels. After aliens invade Earth they systematically use events to whittle down the population: earthquakes, EMP, avian flu. Now aliens have taken over the military like puppet masters and in the guise of saviors they recruit and train youngsters (ages 5 to teen) to kill adults living in hidden communities in the woods.

Leading The 5th Wave are two strong femme actors. Chloë Grace Moretz stars as Cassie, a kind of alpha teenager who over the course of the movie elicits romantic attention from both teen boys and aliens disguised as teen boys. There’s also Maika Monroe, who made such a great impression in last year’s It Follows, as Ringer another distaff alpha. Guys in the troupe have names like Zombie, Dumbo and Oompa. The 5th Wave is pure kid’s science fiction. They inhabit a world where adults are cast merely to die or to oppress.

thugs-trailerstill2Prescription Thugs broadcasts an important message wrapped in a mediocre documentary. There is an epidemic in society of medication being over prescribed and Prescription Thugs looks directly at this issue. Some of the filmmakers (there are three credited directors) have ties to the world of professional wrestling, an occupation that lends itself to pill popping and pain medication. The main director Chris Bell previously helmed the steroids doc Bigger, Faster, Stronger.

There are some salient points made about the American culture of addiction and the way kids are prescribed legal meth in the form of Adderall and Ritalin. Celebs who died from prescription drugs include Michael Jackson, Heather Ledger, and the King who died on the throne.

In the most startling sequence Bell meets with his congressman and shows the elected representative how easy it is to buy meds like Xanax and others on Craigslist. The next scene shows the same congressman holding a press conference with law enforcement announcing that they are blowing the lid on Craigslist.

Prescription Thugs unwinds exclusively at the Alamo Drafthouse Vintage Park.

— Michael Bergeron