Synopsis: When an unseen enemy threatens mankind by taking over their bodies and erasing their memories, Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan) will risk everything to protect the people she cares most about – Jared (Max Irons), Ian (Jake Abel), her brother Jamie (Chandler Canterbury) and her Uncle Jeb (William Hurt), proving that love can conquer all in a dangerous new world.
Release Date: March 29, 2013 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Fantasy, Thriller
As the creator of the Twilight saga, Stephanie Meyer has been responsible for creating a new genre of literature; her novels have been so successful that a “paranormal teen romance” section can now be found in any big-box book store. Now that the sparkly vampire trend of Twilight has run its course, Meyer has branched out in an attempt to revise the alien invasion genre with an adaptation of another one of her books, The Host.
The Host is set on an Earth that has been invaded and colonized by a race of aliens called “souls.” Souls take over human host bodies and control their thoughts and actions, looking identical to humans with the exception of having bright, glowing grey eyes. The souls have created a Utopia on Earth, with no crime, violence, or even distrust amongst each other. The only strife that exists in the world comes in the form of small pockets of humans that remain unchanged who are seen as rebels. When one of these humans, a young girl named Melanie Strider (Saoirse Ronan from Hanna), is facing capture, she decides to jump to her death rather than have her body occupied by a soul. She survives the jump, and a soul named Wanda (short for Wanderer) is implanted into her head by another soul named Seeker (Diane Kruger from Inglourious Basterds) to scan her memories in an attempt to locate her human friends and family. However, Melanie’s mind is still strong enough to be able to rebel against Wanda and convince her to run away and, together in Melanie’s body, they escape to a compound in the desert run by Melanie’s Uncle Jeb (The Big Chill‘s William Hurt) where they are united with Melanie’s boyfriend, Jared (Dorian Gray‘s Max Irons) and her brother, Jamie (Chandler Cantebury from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). The rest of the humans at the camp are suspicious of Melanie/Wanda, but eventually Wanda is able to persuade them that Melanie is not completely lost. The humans make it their mission to save Melanie, yet Seeker is still hot on her trail, ready and eager to take down the rebellious humans.
The Host tries really hard to be a legitimate science fiction film. Meyer’s novel was adapted for the screen and directed by Andrew Niccol, who has an impressive sci-fi resume that includes Gattaca and In Time. It has a lot of nifty little visual effects that, while not overly impressive, give the film a high-tech gloss. Unfortunately, The Host is a drag to watch. It’s just corny, and not even to the point of being campy with unintentional humor; it’s just a bore. The characters are not likeable, the action sequences are not exciting, and the plot is recycled from a million better sci-fi alien invasion movies. The story moves slowly and goes directly from point A to point B, with no surprises or twists. At over two hours, it’s also longer than it needs to be, a fact which makes the closing credits that much more satisfying when they finally do roll down the screen. The Host is that bad – the ending can’t come soon enough.
Of course, because it’s based on a Stephanie Meyer book, there’s got to be an attempt at a teeny-bop romance. Interestingly enough, that provides the one somewhat entertaining aspect of the film: the love “triangle.” While not exactly Team Edward vs. Team Jacob, Melanie/Wanda’s situation gets complicated because Melanie still loves Jared, yet Wanda falls for another one of the humans, a hunk named Ian (I Am Number Four‘s Jake Abel). Unfortunately, two things keep even this development from saving the movie; first, Jared and Ian are so alike that they are basically interchangeable, and second, Melanie and Wanda are not the same being, just stuck in the same body, so it’s not surprising that they would fall for different guys. Therefore, it’s more of a love square instead of a triangle. Still, the concept is an interesting little pebble of drama in an otherwise dull film. Meyer’s core audience may even have trouble finding something engaging in The Host…but they’ll all still go see it anyway.
It’s a good thing that the alien souls in The Host have the glowing grey eyes. The acting is so robotic and wooden on both sides that otherwise, it would be hard to tell the humans from the aliens. The souls have an excuse to be stiff, but the humans are just cookie-cutters, and everyone appears to be simply going through the motions and regurgitating their lines from cue-cards instead of actually playing their roles. The lone exception is William Hurt; he plays the part of Uncle Jeb the way it should be played, like he’s in on the joke with a nod and a wink to classic sci-fi movies. Unfortunately, he is the only actor who appears to know how silly the movie is, and the rest look foolish trying to act serious. The characters are a blur, not relating at all to the audience, and the entire film suffers for it. With the exception of Hurt, the performances in The Host are uninspired and weak.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Andrew Niccol
- Screenwriter(s): Stephenie MeyerAndrew Niccol
- Cast: Jake Abel (Ian)Saoirse Ronan (Melanie) Diane Kruger (Seeker/Lacy)William Hurt (Jeb)Max Irons (Jared)
- Editor(s): Thomas J. Nordberg
- Cinematographer: Roberto Schaefer
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Antonio Pinto
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA