Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The Host: Movie Review

The Host: Movie Review

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Diane Kruger, William Hurt, Jake Abel, Emily Browning
Director: Andrew Niccol

Fresh from Twilight Saga writer Stephenie Meyer comes the film version of her novel The Host, her first foray into the world of sci-fi.

An unseen but benign alien invasion force has taken over the Earth - by forming parasitic relationships with humanity and inhabiting bodies while erasing their memories. But a small batch of humans is standing firm in the face of this invasion  by stealth and is determined to fight back.

Among their number is Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan), a tough-willed fighter and sister to a younger brother after their father killed himself in the early stages of their coming. However, when she's cornered by the Seekers, she kills herself - only to awake to find a soul is now in her body.

But Melanie is a fighter - and soon there is a conflict within the body for control. And that conflict has implications for what's left of humanity....

So, is The Host movie any good?

Well, if you can get past some of the soapy teen / slightly horrific love story contained inevitably within Host author Stephenie Meyer's writing, then there lies an interesting sci-fi movie cum meditation / philosophical piece on the soul and how we see our place in the world.

Kiwi Director Andrew Niccol's brought us a sterile world which is all starched whites, sheens, silvers and where the bad guys drive pristine silver Lotus while pursuing the bad guys. He's also managed to make some incredible use of the landscape scenery on offer - with the wilds of the countryside and the stark harshness of the buildings occupied by the invaders providing a nice contrast to each other.

But he's also managed to stick to some clunky dialogue, so redolent of Meyer's writing. Lines like "When you touch me, I don't want you to stop" litter parts of the movie and drag it down a little as it plays out. Why those couldn't be jettisoned I'm not too sure - even though it's young adult, and aimed at an audience, they still stand out a mile off.

Saoirse Ronan manages an evocative turn, eliciting an ethereal otherworldly feel at times as this dissertation on the soul and faith goes on. She even succeeds in scenes of interacting with herself as Melanie within comes to the fore (achieved by an echoing voice-over) which teeters just on the right side of not managing to be annoying / awkward. However, her male counterparts / love interests don't fare quite as well, seeming relatively anodyne and bland as the love story plays out. Diane Kruger brings an almost Terminator-like doggedness in her pursuit of the Melanie / Host hybrid, while William Hurt has a quiet reverence as the man in charge of the freedom fighters.

There's a haunting and elegaic feel to The Host movie, and it's certainly one which evokes feelings within as it ends - but there's also a bit of confusion over some of the characters' motives (even the final explanations still provide a touch of "Huh?") which nag during the film's quieter moments. This is not an alien invasion film with heaps of action and chases; in fact, it's the very opposite - a grown up meditation of the spiritual, which has moments of serenity within - despite a quite ludicrous love story being wrapped around an occasionally logic-lacking tale.



  1. Personally, I think that the whole science-fiction side to it is simply amazing and then, throwing some romance into it? Downright epic. If only there was a whole series of the book and the film! It's aimed and young adults and it has certainly pleased many as far I know. However, I do agree with you. Stephenie Meyer throws too many cheesy lines into her book. So much, that it can definitely be overwhelming and annoying at times. But overall I think it is pretty original and has a brilliant storyline.

  2. In my opinion, I feel many people make a judgement without all of the necessary details. I understand it must be difficult to fit a 600 page book into a 2 hour film, but the differences between the film and the novel are staggering, and extremely disappointing. Such as it was with the horrible Twilight. Perhaps Stephenie Meyer should stop turning her novels into films, the effect seems to remain the same in both situations. I am glad there will be no sequel, as the novel stands. The film is an utter disappointment.

    1. I agree with you entirely. Well said.