“The Host”, a science fiction romance based on the novel of the same name, by the author of the Twilight series (commercially successful but critically panned), Stephenie Meyer. I enjoyed the novel to an extent, however, although the movie is fairly faithful to the book, it lacks the compelling story and voice that the novel contains.
Earth has been taken over by peaceful “souls” that inhabit the human brain and body, or a “host”. “Human’ s are but extinct”. One soul of the name Wanderer (Saoirse Ronan) has taken over the body of Melanie Stryder to delve into her memories and see if there are any pockets of human resistance left to eliminate. However, Melanie begins to resist internally, throwing memories at Wanda and Wanda soon finds herself having deep feelings for Jared Howe (Max Irons), Melanie’s lover and also becomes quite attached to Melanie’s brother, Jamie (Chandler Canterbury). Melanie then persuades Wanda to escape a particularly unlikable soul, The Seeker (Diane Kruger) and find the human resistance to reunite her with Jared and Jamie. The premise is quite intriguing, even if it does include Meyer’s trademark stamp of the tortured, forbidden love, a VERY complex love triangle and a martyr-like female protagonist. Nevertheless, I find the idea of a human as a host to peaceful aliens interesting and this could have been developed further in the movie as it was in the books.
Director, Andrew Niccol (The Truman Show) did the best he could with what source material he had, which in all honesty isn’t the best and attempted to make a static and dull story a little more exciting by adding a couple of guns and not too thrilling car chases. The action scenes or stunts that were there, were few and far between but even then they weren’t particularly mind-blowing. What could have been potentially exhilarating was played down to make room for a corny and overstated romance. The romance at times was forced and uncomfortable (although nowhere as near a uncomfortable as “The Twilight Saga’s” Kristen Stewart’s and Robert Pattinson’s “chemistry”). The romance angle was definitely a driving force in the novel but has just not translated well on-screen. I felt that the aspects of the novel that intrigued me the most were just glossed over, for example, how the invasion began and how the humans escaped, how the souls live without money and the origins of the souls etc. There was too much focus on the romance aspect when in the book, the way in which Wanda forms relationships with other characters such as Jeb (William Hurt) and Jamie is what I enjoyed rather than a focus on her love interests, Ian (Jake Abel) and Jared. The way in which the internal voice of Melanie was portrayed could have been improved and Melanie/Wanda just sounded like two teenage girls bickering over which boys they should kiss. It was all very immature but isn’t that to be expected when targeting a teen market?
One redeeming quality was the standout acting of Oscar nominated Saoirse Ronan. She managed to turn Wanda from an annoying self-sacrificing idiot into a barely likeable character. Although I am slightly disappointed she chose this role when she is clearly meant for bigger and better things. Even the kid playing Jamie got me a little teary eyed. Max Irons was mediocre, at best and was mostly wooden in his acting. The studio execs were clearly attempting to make him into the next Robert Pattinson (which I’m sure they already tried to do with that train wreck of a movie, “Red Riding Hood”). I could hear slips in his accent, or maybe it’s because I know he is British, so I was more observant of them. Diane Kruger was another mediocre addition to the cast.
This was clearly just another money-making scheme with anyone associated with Meyer and aiming for the same tween market that attracted Twilight. However, with all these supernatural, forbidden love triangle loving tweens growing up, is there still a market for this genre? If you enjoy a clichéd love triangle with a supernatural twist then this is definitely for you. If not, then give this one a miss.
My verdict 5.6/10 (based solely on my love of Saoirse Ronan’s performance)
Based on: “The Host” by Stephenie Meyer
Screenplay and Directed by: Andrew Niccol
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, Diane Kruger, Jake Abel, William Hurt
In cinemas nationwide.