The Host (2013)

The HostWhen she is captured by an alien race and implanted with a foreign consciousness, a so-called Soul, Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan) finds herself trapped in her own head and cut off from her body. Now going by the name Wanderer, the entity taps into her host’s memories in an attempt to locate the rest of the resistance. Determined to keep the promise she made to her brother, Melanie manipulates the imposter into fleeing the Seekers (led by Diane Kruger) in order to return home to Jamie, as well as uncle Jeb (William Hurt) and boyfriend Jared (Max Irons). However, an already complex situation is complicated further when Ian O’Shea (Jake Abel) develops feelings for the parasite itself.

From the same mind responsible for the Twilight saga, The Host is first and foremost an adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s 2008 novel of the same name. While writer-director Andrew Niccol’s has managed to put together an impressive cast and a few decent visuals, the overriding creative force on the film is undoubtedly Meyer, who once again hangs over proceedings in the role of executive producer, weighed down by religious baggage and all.

As with Twilight, then, The Host is a genre movie as put together by someone completely ignorant of the genre itself. The Host‘s invading aliens aren’t your token extraterrestrial terrors, but poorly misjudged Mormon metaphors that just happen to resemble glistening cloud of space-sperm. Meanwhile, the film’s resistance — rather than attempting to reclaim their planet — have settled into a defunct volcano that now spouts crops rather than pyroclast in order to harvest corn and stare at glow-worms.

Admittedly, Saoirse Ronan’s Melanie Stryder shows some promise in the film’s opening sequence — its only real action set-piece — as she batters a group of Seekers with a torch only to leap out of a top story window rather than be assimilated by the alien assailants. Once occupied by Wanderer, however, any sense of agency or rebellion is reduced to endless bickering between heroine and host. However good Ronan might be (and after Hanna you really get the sense that she is being waster here), even she cannot sell the sight of Melanie arguing with herself.

While all evidence suggests that love-interests Max Irons and Jake Abel are better actors than Twilight‘s Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, the characters themselves are simply not in the same league. Say what you like about sparkly vampires and telepathic werewolves, but there is clearly something in the antagonism between the two that has resonated with audiences. It is unlikely that Jared and Ian will enter the public consciousness in the same way, let alone divide audiences into two competing camps. It is only Melanie’s relationship with brother Jamie that makes any sort of impression.

At an agonising 125 minutes in length, The Host really cannot afford to be as anaemic as it is. Spending too much time in nondescript catacombs and never really giving an overarching sense of the wider world (let alone cosmos), the film never develops a personality of its own, trundling along at a pace better suited to a period drama than a sci-fi epic. As such, it’s not only unsuccessful as a standalone movie, but fails to inspire much interest in the subsequent instalments the author has promised. The Host really could have used a soul of its own.

1.5-Stars

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

One Response to The Host (2013)

  1. Pingback: April 2013 – You’re all going to die tonight | popcornaddict

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