Many have hopes that The Host will be the new Twilight. And I can tell you now that’s not going to happen. You can slap Stephenie Meyer’s name on every bit of promo, and it still won’t happen. The Host isn’t the kind of phenomenon that Twilight is. But that’s not really what this review is about, what it is about is if The Host is a good movie. The Twilight films are known for being bad; even a Twilight fan, like myself, understands and acknowledges that. But The Host trailers hold promise, and even the book is a satisfying read. Therefore, I had hope that The Host would deliver something good or at least better.
It sort of does. The Host definitely has an intriguing premise, but a corny plot and some over-the-top acting stops it from being what it could be.
Saoirse Ronan stars as Melanie Stryder, a human living in an alien-invaded world. A peaceful invasion has taken over the human race, and the few humans that have managed to avoid being invaded are on the run or in hiding. That’s how we meet Melanie, as she’s fighting and leading off a gang of aliens called Seekers away from her little brother. In an attempt to escape, she jumps out a window thinking she’s going to die. However, the Seekers find that she’s still alive and decide to use her body as a host for the alien, Wanderer, so that she can search Melanie’s memories and conscious to find out where the other rebels are hiding. What Wanderer soon discovers is that Melanie is still well and alive inside the body. Melanie pleads with Wanderer in her head to not tell the Seekers anything, much to one Seeker’s dismay (played by Diane Kruger). Eventually, the emotions and memories of Melanie’s past overwhelm and touch Wanderer, causing her to escape the Seekers and find Melanie’s human family.
Ronan gives as always a captivating performance, and there are several scenes where she really elevates the material with emotion. Director Andrew Niccol (In Time) made the right choice casting her as the lead. William Hurt also provides a good performance. However, Diane Kruger is over the top as the film’s villain. She never felt like a real threat, more ridiculous than serious.
As for the two male leads, I think they had a harder time with trying to figure out how to approach their characters. Max Irons played Jared, a human that had been in love with Melanie and is now trying to deal with the fact that Wanderer now possesses her body. Jake Abel plays another human, Ian, who ends up falling for Wanderer, leading to this weird love triangle/square. Irons played the role very seriously, and it’s hard to blame him exactly because the story does call for it. Same goes for Abel. I think what did cut them down was just how ridiculous and silly certain parts of the plot played out. Honestly, if it focused less on the complicated romance and more on this new world and the philosophical aspects that the premise undoubtedly brings up, it would’ve played out as much more fascinating and less corny movie.
Some highlights were the beautiful New Mexico scenery and art direction. Niccol did a nice job creating this world, despite some of the movie’s obvious faults.
In the end, The Host’s biggest problem is that it remained very faithful to the book. If only Niccol took some liberties and delved deeper into the world and characters Meyer created, this movie would have a lot more meaningful things to say. Regardless, if you’re a fan of the Twilight saga or romance in general, you’ll likely appreciate what The Host has to offer and will find it to be a quite entertaining ride.
Rating: 6.5/10 stars
The Host hits theater on Friday, March 29th. Learn more about The Host after the jump!
Post Screening Q&A with Stephenie Meyer, Max Irons and Jake Abel
A few weeks ago, Stephenie, Max and Jake surprised fans by doing a post screening Q&A to talk about The Host in Chicago. Check out the pictures and video from the event below.
Photos Courtesy of Amanda Trevino