STORY WRITTEN BY AMY LONGSDORF
For Digital First Media
In “The 5th Wave,” a smart, scrappy teenager (Chloe Grace Moretz) is forced to become a warrior in the wake of an alien invasion.
If this thriller existed all by itself, it might be hailed as an efficient action movie with solid characterizations, surprise twists and plenty of post-apocalyptic atmosphere. But “The 5th Wave” can’t shake its been-there, done-that vibe.
From “The Hunger Games” to “Divergent,” all of these dystopian, YA dramas wind up hitting the same notes over and over again. At least, “The 5th Wave” boasts a full-bodied turn by Moretz who makes rooting for her stereotypical character easy to do. On Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Google, Vudu.
Also New To Streaming
Emelie: Deeply unsettling, this crazy-babysitter thriller gets a lot of mileage out of the disconnect between Emelie’s (Sarah Bolger) unassuming appearance and her increasingly insane antics. After showing up to take care of the Thompson kids, Emelie promptly feeds a pet hamster to a snake and breaks out X-rated videos. Set over the course of one creepy night, “Emelie” gets better as it goes along, with oldest son Jacob (Joshua Rush) forced to go all “Home Alone” on his sitter, rigging garbage cans with firecrackers and, finally, taking his Dad’s sports car out for a spin. On Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Google, Vudu.
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The Messenger: Imagine a world without birds? In this superb documentary, a number of forces are blamed for the disappearance of the winged creatures. The culprits include an overuse of pesticides, a loss of habitat and climate change. While “The Messenger” argues for birds as an essential part of the ecosystem, it also provides gorgeous shots of Barn Swallows in flight and tracks Purple Martins who miraculously wing it from Erie, Pa., to the Brazilian rainforest — and back — every year. On Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Google, Vudu.
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What Lola Wants: Daughter of Hollywood royalty, Lola (Sophie Lowe) fakes her own kidnapping and winds up in the New Mexico desert where she meets Marlo (Beau Knapp), a thug being menaced by his gun-toting mother (a scary Dale Dickey). Together, Lola and Marlo have lots of run-ins with unsavory characters while falling head over heels in love. Writer/director Rupert Glasson wants to give this stylized thriller the energy and wit of a Quentin Tarantino film but “Lola” comes off as nothing but a tedious exercise in retro whimsy, with the violence turned up to 11. On Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Google, Vudu.
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Grace and Frankie: Season Two: During the first season of the Netflix hit, uptight Grace (Jane Fonda) and hippie-ish Frankie (Lily Tomlin) decided to become roommates after their husbands asked for divorces so they could marry each other. The show, which could be sitcomish at times, deepened as it went along, thanks to Fonda and Tomlin’s willingness to upend stereotypes and deal with real issues of aging. This season, Sam Elliott turns up as Grace’s long-lost love and Frankie ponders an affair with her vegetable man (Ernie Hudson). On Netflix.
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Inherent Vice: Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s 2009 novel is a gloriously weird and woozy affair. Joaquin Phoenix stars as a frequently stoned private detective who, thanks to his ex-girlfriend (Katherine Waterston), finds himself on the trail of a missing real estate magnate (Eric Roberts). Like a mash-up of “The Long Goodbye” and “The Big Lebowski,” the mystery driving the action barely hangs together. But “Vice” is never less than amusing, and during those moments when Anderson mines a vein of melancholy, it comes close to greatness. On HBO Now.
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Hope For Steve: This inspirational documentary follows two and a half years in the life of Steve Dezember who, at age 28, is diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a neurodegenerative illness for which there is no cure. Knowing that he may have little time left, Steve proposes to his girlfriend of six months. They marry two months later and start to cram in as much living as possible — including cross-country road trips — while Steve can still walk, talk, eat and breathe on his own. It’s impossible not to be moved by Steve’s positivity and determination to live life to the fullest. On Amazon, iTunes and Barnes and Noble.
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Arnold’s Wrecking Company: Cult Movie Alert! Writer and director Steven E. de Souza’s (“Die Hard”) made his directing debut back in 1972 with this comedy about a student who tries pot for the first time, loves it and decides to distribute it in a big business kind of way. Soon he has the police and the mafia on his tail. The recipient of the Special Jury Prize at the 1972 Atlanta Film Festival, “Arnold’s Wrecking Company” suffered an unfortunate fate when its distribution company went bankrupt at the time of its original release. The film was released in a few venues in the fall of 1973, but has never been available widely, until now. On Shout Factory TV.