Movie Review: ‘The Host’

In theaters

“The Host,” written by Stephenie Meyer (novel) and Andrew Niccol (screenplay), directed by Niccol, 125 minutes, rated PG-13.

With all of the hoopla surrounding the “Twilight” saga, and the money that came with it, it’s no surprise that Hollywood would want to adapt Stephenie Meyer’s “other” novel, “The Host.” As you might expect, Meyer’s “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” inspired story has all the elements that have made her so popular: Teenagers, a love triangle, and the slightest sense of danger amid a confused romance. Unlike “Twilight,” however, “The Host” is intolerable, made all the worse by knowing that gifted “Gattaca” helmer Andrew Niccol wrote and directed the film.

Unlike most post-apocalyptic films, “The Host” introduces you to a world that is already lost, where almost every human body has been overrun by glowing-eyed alien hosts who have taken it upon themselves to solve all the world’s problems. Is it a dystopian society or Utopian? The film never really explores that question, unfortunately.

We’re quickly introduced to Melanie (the usually dependable Saoirse Ronan), a rebellious Southern girl separated from her family and lover Jared (Max Irons), as she is captured by the invaders and has her body taken hostage by a generations-old alien known as “Wanderer.” Melanie isn’t dead though. Her soul and mind are still alive while her body is under the control of Wanderer. Here we find the film’s biggest flaw – a poorly written, ridiculous voice-over from Melanie that persists throughout the entire film.

Wanderer begins to sympathize with Melanie and her struggle to return to Jared and her brother, Jamie (Chandler Canterbury), and the two, joined in one body, journey into the desert to find a remote camp where Jared and Jamie have been hiding out with a small pack of humans. When the clan finds Wanderer, or Wanda, as she’s come to be known by, she is met with hostility and confusion from her loved ones as she opens her eyes revealing the gleaming blue that they’ve come to fear.

Kept on a tight, but protective leash by her uncle Jeb (William Hurt), Melanie and Wanda struggle to co-exist. While Melanie is in love with Jared, Wanda develops feelings for one of the group’s farmers, Ian (Jake Abel, the best thing about the film). With a seeker (Diane Kruger) hot on the trail of the insubordinate Melanie and hellbent on her demise, the livelihood of this small group of humans is put in jeopardy by merely having Melanie/Wanda take refuge with them.

Before I tear “The Host” apart, I have to say, despite the unoriginal premise, there are a lot of really great ideas here that, unfortunately, get pushed aside. The duality of Melanie and Wanda living in the same body should have helped the film transcend its derivative story, but instead it’s dumbed down with one of the worst, most unconvincing voice-overs I’ve ever heard. The question of whether Earth’s new occupiers are actually good or bad for the planet goes unnoticed by Niccol and company. And, of course, the lovey-dovey dialogue between Melanie and Jared, and Wanda and Ian, rivals the most insufferable moments from any of the “Twilight” films.

In addition to several missed opportunities, there’s not a lot of motion in “The Host,” which seems content with just having characters in a setting without any real purpose or direction. For a two hour film about an alien invasion, not a lot happens. It makes the movie feel about 20 minutes longer than it actually is.

So here’s my problem. Andrew Niccol is an incredibly talented filmmaker. Saoirse Ronan is one of the brightest young actresses working today. How, then, is “The Host” so terrible? It’s not just a bad movie, but a movie that gets on your nerves. You would think that with Niccol behind the camera and Ronan in front of it, that they would produce something that is at least worth watching. Sadly, that’s not the case here. Not even close.

Grade: F

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11 Responses to Movie Review: ‘The Host’

  1. Vms-Emacs says:

    I liked it. Actress looked good

  2. chris fleming says:

    why does everyone want to put this movie down…….their was alot of changes yes but their was times that I teared up that I hadn’t with the book & most are watch’ng this movie & not even read’ng the book, you have’t to read the book 1st & then you will know each character as they are, just like with twilight…….it wasn’t the best but they had a small budget & this movie had one also….and actors aren’t well known, but I absolutely loved this movie, I will own this movie & I would recommend this movie to anyone & everyone that has 1st read the book…….and you will be suprised how you see things as they are through wanda/mel’s eyes & thoughts……and yes theirs changes but some are good & yes they did leave some things out but they had 600 pgs to put into a 2 hr movie…loved it……going to see it again & will own the movie as soon as its out…..I want a sequel book & movie……jared & ian are super hot & so is wanda/melanie…..

  3. Melina Rose says:

    Seriously? I loved the book and the movie! It was a good read,and an awesome film. I thought that this movie would get more outstanding reviews, the Host was an incredible book with lots of good details!

  4. Mia says:

    I really liked this movie, I dont know why people are putting it down. Would definitely recommend it and I will buy it when it comes out.

  5. Chang says:

    Yes it is a good movie. May not be as big as the blockbuster movies like GI Joe or Star Wars but certainly this is not to be missed!

  6. Ellie says:

    I know that everyone has their own opinions, but it’s clear to see that the ‘Host’ wasn’t at all a great or even good movie. I loved the book so much. It was really good, even better than Twilight, and it made me shed a few tears. When I found out that a film adaptation was being made I was so ecstatic. So I anxiously waited 4 months for this film to come out, and despite the reviews I heard or saw(rottentomatoes.com) I went and saw it because I didn’t care or believed these reviews. I sat there bored out of my mind writing a better script in my head. I was very disappointed, and wish for it to be redone in the future with a much better script worthy of the book.

  7. Billy Mcbob says:

    I loved the books. But the movie was terrible. If you saw the movie before reading the book make sure to give the book a chance it is much better

  8. Zerobbley says:

    Jesus on a moped .. Wherever you go on t’web people are defending this utter POS movie. I’d like to see a breakdown of the budget. Im sure a huge chunk of it went on promotion. Posters were up at bus-stop shelters all over London around the release time.

    Shame on William Hurt.

  9. CBN says:

    I didn’t last five minutes before I was bored out of my mind and turned it off. I’m sure Stephanie Myers had a stipulation in her Twilight contract that this movie gets made. Both overrated books and movies by a overrated writer who got lucky. Soon everyone will realize how stupid they were for liking Twilight and The Host. Life was so much better before all this cheap came out and ruined mine. Kristen Stewart needs to give all the money she makes from Twilight to charity because she sure as hell doesn’t deserve a dime for her “acting talents” and at least let someone worthy benefit from that lousy franchise.

  10. Stella says:

    I do not understand why the negativity surrounding this movie. I watched all the Twilight movies and they were not as good as The Host, both in acting and way it was directed and adapted. It is an enjoyable movie. I was happy that my $12 was spent well as I did not feel that I was robbed of my time and money. There are a lot of movies or there where they say it was good but I left the movie theater feeling cheated. Great job to all involved in The Host.

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