While I was never a fan of Stephenie Meyer Twilight Saga, I have to say I admire any author who manages to come out of nowhere and take over the book world. Her follow-up to Twilight was the quiet, self-reflective The Host. It has all the same trappings of her first series – an annoying lead character – although not hateful like Bella Swan and of course that old tween staple – the love triangle. Although here it is done with a twist.
Sometime in the future the earth is quietly taken over by an alien race. These formless beings survive by taking over the bodies of the species they invade. After successfully implanting themselves into most of the earth’s population there is a small group of people who hasn’t been “infected” yet.
Melanie (Saoirse Ronan) is one of the few humans who still have their souls. After a raid goes bad the aliens finally capture her. She is forced to become the host to a soul called The Wanderer. Normally when a soul takes over another being, it becomes the dominant force, but there’s something about Melanie. She fights back.
The movie starts off well enough, but it becomes really hard to buy the basic premise. These aliens are “flawless” and have created this “perfect” antiseptic society where everyone is “happy” and “obedient.” The movie’s flaw is if you do not like narration, then this movie will try your patience as you basically have two beings living in one body so we get lots of inner conflict and arguing.
Melanie’s love for Jared (Max Irons) and her brother is keeping her from going away completely. This allows her to fight back against The Wanderer who becomes intrigued by the concept of love and starts helping. The Wanderer falls for another rebel, Ian (Jake Abel). This sets up one of the most ridiculous love “triangles” or “quadrangles” in movie history. Ronan has no chemistry with either guy.
Director Andrew Niccol does a nice job of setting the tone of the movie, but the pacing and dialog get bogged down in the ridiculous love triangle. Does every teen lit book need to have the silly team x vs team y thing now? Saoirse does an ok job with what she’s given and as someone who has always thought she was bland, seems to be growing as an actress with each role. Yes, all of her expressions are still plastic and her eyes look vacant here, in this case it fits the character. She seems to bring a little more life to this role than she has in the past. No, I did not like her in Hanna or Atonement, her two most popular movies.
I really liked Diana Kruger’s tough as nails Seeker. For most of the film she comes across as the typical bureaucratic cop, but in the third act she actually starts to get some more character development and Kruger plays her perfectly.
There is just something about this movie that I can’t quite put my finger on. On the one hand it is awful on many different levels. At 90 minutes it felt like there wasn’t enough story to justify a movie. The acting for the most part was pretty awful and large chunks of it were cold and antiseptic. However, there was enough there to keep me interested. I would be curious to see where the story could go from here – based on the weird ending.
Final Grade C