So you remember that writer who wrote those books about vampires and werewolves and two-dimensional romance between creeper characters? Remember how those books were then made into low-budget movies with actors who obviously weren’t even trying? Remember the inexplicable love from teen girls and middle-aged women and the unquenchable hatred from pretty much everyone else?
What’s that? You wish you could forget it? Well, too bad Stephenie Meyer won’t let you, because she wrote another book.
The Host is the story of the love between a boy and a girl. But the boy is no vampire. The girl is infected with an alien parasite, one of a species that has taken over the majority of the human race. And there’s no love triangle involving a werewolf; there’s a love triangle involving said parasite inhabiting the girl’s body. Leave it to Stephenie Meyer to come up with the only relationship creepier than that of a 100-year-old bloodthirsty vampire, a werewolf who can’t keep his shirt on, and a manipulative, emotionless zombie … oh, I’m sorry, I meant Bella Swan. Still, I’ve heard from semi-reliable sources that this book is better than the Twilight train wreck (I refuse to dignify it with the term saga), so I’ll do my best to give the film the benefit of the doubt.
The star of this film is Saoirse Ronan, a young Irish actress, which means the film is looking up already despite the fact that she doesn’t have an Irish accent in this movie. She has appeared in Hanna, The Secret World of Arrietty, and City of Ember. Max Irons plays her love interest. His filmography includes Red Riding Hood, Being Julia, and Dorian Gray. Jake Abel also makes an appearance as some guy who gets one second of screen time in the trailer yet seems to be more important in the film based on my IMDb search. His films include Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, I Am Number Four, and The Lovely Bones, in which he appeared alongside Saoirse Ronan. If he turns out to be another love interest, this love square could get complicated very quickly. The villain of this piece, the Seeker, is played by Diane Kruger, who has starred in such films as Troy, Unknown, and the National Treasure movies.
The film’s writer and director is Andrew Niccol, who has brought us such films as Gattaca, The Truman Show, and In Time. His films are … well, I don’t know what his films are like considering I haven’t seen any of them. In fact, the only person I’m familiar with at all from this list is Diane Kruger, and that’s only because of National Treasure. Yes, I saw Percy Jackson, but it didn’t leave a very big impression on me, and certainly not in the case of Jake Abel. Other than that, I have no experience with any of these people, so I don’t know what to expect when it comes to ability. This review is going to be even more heavily based on the trailer than usual, so let’s go ahead and take a look at it.
We open to a shot of … what is that exactly? A star map? A giant glowing dream catcher? A holographic dance floor? It looks pretty, but if this is important to the plot, I’m already lost. Fortunately, we move on to exposition as Diane Kruger tells us that nearly all the humans have fallen prey to the evils of tinted contact lenses. Meanwhile, Saoirse tells Max that they could be captured at any moment. Which is why they’re standing in an open field where anyone can see them. Smooth. We also find out more about the aliens. For example, they obviously weaken their human hosts, since it only takes one backhanded slap to defeat one. Also, they refuse to travel in any vehicle not painted silver for some weird reason. I would say it was camouflage, but in the desert, it just seems to stand out more. Did the aliens open up their own body shop and paint all their cars silver just because they could?
The aliens catch up to Saoirse and Max, and Saoirse says she’ll lead them away. What’s this? A Meyer protagonist actually sacrificing something? I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of moviegoers cried out in celebration and then were suddenly silenced as they remembered for whom they were cheering. But the poor girl gets surrounded by the aliens, so I guess she’s done for. But no, she beats them all up and runs away. Seriously, these aliens are so incompetent they got beat up by a girl? Why are they a threat again? But Diane and her alien forces chase her to the top floor of a building, and she jumps through a window, landing hard on the ground below. Well, that was a short movie, but with Meyer, that’s probably a good thing. So would I recommend this … oh, wait. As the boys of Monty Python would say, she’s not dead yet.
In fact, this seems to astound the alien medics, who declare that she has broken every bone and ruptured every organ in her body. It’s kind of surprising how bad she looks with her scarred face, considering she landed on her side, giving the audience a clear view of her undamaged face. Yeah, how many times did she fall out of the window again? Where did all those devastating injuries come from? It doesn’t matter, because thanks to the medics’ mysterious devices, they completely disappear in a matter of seconds. Alien technology: now with more plot convenience.
Anyway, they stick stardust into Saoirse’s spine, and the alien takes over her body as Diane declares that the girl’s memories will lead them to the hideout of the human resistance. Or the steamy make out session that takes up the next scene. You know, in case you’d forgotten whose work you were watching. But the alien starts examining Saoirse’s memories, and we learn that she was born in Louisiana despite having no trace of a Southern accent. Seriously, how come the South Carolinian witches from Beautiful Creatures sound more Southern than the girl from Louisiana? Also, if those are her memories projected on the walls, why is her face in every single one? But then Saoirse starts to fight back, halting the mental interrogation. Despite this, Diane apparently lets her go driving by herself (smart move there, Diane), and Saoirse jerks the wheel, causing the car to flip in an over-the-top crash. So now she’s dead, right? Nope, she somehow survives the totaling of the car without a scratch on her. Even her hair and clothing look good. I love this movie’s realism.
Saoirse wanders out into the desert and is found by one of the resistance members, who quickly realizes that she has an alien parasite. So instead of finding a cave to imprison her in until they can free her from the alien’s hold, he takes her back to the resistance hideout where she has many opportunities for sabotage. Naturally, the people are none too happy about this, but Max reminds them that it’s still Saoirse’s body because he’s a guy and that’s all he really cares about. Saoirse still seems appreciative of him, though, saying, “You don’t know what I’ve been through to find you.” Girl, you walked through the desert until your face blistered, which then healed really quickly … again. You haven’t been through that much. She goes on to ask for his trust. Yes, trust the alien parasite inhabiting your girlfriend’s body. What could possibly go wrong with that? Max, however, is neither that stupid nor the jerk he appeared to be earlier, saying he misses everything about her (I assume that includes her mind, which he hasn’t seemed too interested in so far, but hey, this is only the trailer) and asking if Melanie is still in there. And of course, the best way to find that answer is by making out with her. Maybe I was a little too quick to assume he cared about her mind.
After that, there’s not a whole lot to say. The trailer moves into its montage phase, which doesn’t leave much of an impression on me. All I really remember about it (aside from the annoying pop song) is that Diane pulls out a gun and says, “This is war.” And just to remind us of that fact since the middle of the trailer has been fairly actionless, everyone shoots at things. Also, since we’re dealing with aliens anyway, I really wanted to hear a Dalek say, “This is not war; this is pest control!”
So would I recommend this movie? Well … I honestly don’t know. It doesn’t look horrible, and it’s certainly nowhere near Twilight territory. The main character seems three-dimensional, noble, and willing to sacrifice for others, and there’s actual conflict that isn’t caused by sheer stupidity. At the same time, nothing about this trailer really made me think this was going to be good. It didn’t leave much of an impression on me, and I feel like the result of the movie would be the same. The fact that the whole trailer is either light brown or silver doesn’t help; it just makes the movie look really plain and monotone. At best, it’s a step in the right direction for Stephenie Meyer, but considering where she started, she’s still got a long way to go. If you read the book and liked it, you’d probably enjoy the film. If you love Twilight, stop it and go watch this film instead. If you are intrigued by the concept of the alien invasion, you might as well check it out. Otherwise, I don’t think you’re going to be blown away by this movie. Will I see it in theaters? I can answer that with a definite no, and I don’t think I’ll even rent it when it comes out on DVD. I’ve never been a Meyer fan, and this trailer isn’t enough incentive to start now. If you enjoy the film, good for you; it’s just not my poison of choice, so to speak.
So what do you think? Did I spark your interest or turn you off of the movie? Was I fair to the film, or did I miss a golden opportunity to make fun of it? Let me know in the comments below, and if you go see the movie, by all means tell me how it was!