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When the worlds in peril in the movies, teenagers come to the rescue
Shailene Woodley stars in the futuristic thriller "Divergent," which has already spawned one sequel, and another is being prepped. - photo by Chris Hicks
The opening of The 5th Wave this weekend is one more example of how movies turn to teenagers to save mankind when nuclear annihilation or global-warming catastrophes or plagues or vampires or werewolves or zombies or, in this case, alien invaders, come calling.

Even more than as saviors of the human race, moviemakers see teenagers as saviors of the worldwide box office since teens are usually the target audience for movies about teens.

Not that all movies aimed at teens strike gold, but since some do (front and center, the Hunger Games franchise), it has become Hollywoods current go-to modus operandi.

Casting teenagers (or actors in their 20s or 30s playing teenagers) as central characters in sci-fi/fantasy movies isnt a new phenomenon, of course.

In my youth, we had The Blob, Teenagers From Outer Space, Valley of the Giants, I Was a Teenage Werewolf, I Was a Teenage Frankenstein and the like.

And during the 1980s, I was reviewing The Last Starfighter, Night of the Comet, Explorers, My Science Project, the remake of The Blob, and, of course, Back to the Future, among others.

But teenage world-rescuers have become a bigger movie trend than ever before, a cinematic money train that has all but taken over the sci-fi sub-genre of apocalyptic action films.

So heres my question: Have any of these filmmakers actually had teenagers? Lived with teenagers? Been teenagers?

I dont want to sound too politically incorrect here, which is what we are bound to be labeled nowadays whenever we are perceived to be maligning a particular group of people, however subtly.

But lets face it teenagers are nuts.

See there? All the adults are nodding their heads, while all the kids well, they arent reading this. And they wont unless someone condenses it to 140 characters.

But just to be sure that Im not merely falling prey to old-age bigotry, I asked my teenage granddaughter, Is it just me or are teenagers nuts?

Without even looking up from her smartphone, she quickly responded, Oh yeah, teenagers are way nuts.

There you go.

But not in these movies. Here, teens are models of sanity and stability. No raging hormones or selfish motivations or whiny chip-on-the-shoulder attitudes or emptying out the fridge or sleeping all day or oversized thumbs from texting.

Are they teenagers or adult-fantasy androids?

Just take a look at Katniss in The Hunger Games or Tris in Divergent or Thomas in The Maze Runner or, if she actually is a teenager (were never told her age), look at Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

And look at the sequels. (OK, no sequel with Rey yet, but we all know its coming.)

The one that comes closest to real life is the X-Men franchise, with teens as mutants that have mood swings and might set you on fire if you tell them to do their homework or clean up their rooms.

And there are many more. None of these have sequels, but they probably were planning on them: Chronicle, The Giver, Super 8, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Enders Game, Project Almanac, Attack the Block, etc.

Teenagers appear to be all well be able to rely on when aliens or disease or our own nuclear stupidity sends future earthlings back to the Stone Age.

And the villains in these pictures are always adults. Oh, there are good grown-ups too, but theyre mostly rather useless, if not killed off early.

So, the moral is, when your teens are drinking out of the milk carton or kicking their dirty clothes under the bed, dont be too hard on them.

We may need them to save the world one day soon.
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