This week’s movie review, we take a look at The Host, a book based of off the novel by Stephenie Meyer (author of the loved/hated Twilight series). With a man and woman’s perspective reviewing the movie you would think you might be able to predict their reviews. You might be surprised by at least one of them though!. Take a look after the jump and see if this movie is worth seeing!
The premise of The Host is a great concept: Aliens have taken over the world by using humans as host bodies, but there are still a few humans out there who escaped the invasion. Unfortunately, the movie turns out to be a poorly executed translation of Stephenie Meyer’s novel of the same name. Granted, the source material that the moviemakers had to work with wasn’t the greatest, but this joke of a movie makes the novel almost look like a masterpiece in comparison.We start off the movie with a voice over explanation of what has happened to our world. Then we switch to a scene where a young woman jumps through a window with the intent to kill herself rather than have an alien inserted into her body. Unfortunately for her, she survives and the aliens are able to heal her back to perfect health, without so much as a cut or bruise, and insert a “soul” (what the aliens call themselves) into the back of her neck. The young woman, Melanie, played by Saoirse Ronan (Hanna, The Lovely Bones), awakens and is now controlled by the soul known as “Wanderer.” Another soul, “The Seeker,” played by Diane Kruger (Unknown, Inglorious Basterds), is anxious to extract information from Melanie’s memories, to which Wanderer now has access, so that they can track down the other humans she was with. Usually when a soul takes over a human body, the person who was there before is now gone. However, in this case, Melanie is still there, inside Wanderer’s head, and can speak to Wanderer, and even block certain memories. I didn’t like the way they portrayed the communication between Melanie and Wanderer. When Melanie spoke, it was an echo inside Wanderer’s mind, and when Wanderer replied, it was out loud, which seems rather inconvenient because anyone could overhear her, and think she’s a crazy person talking to herself. In the book, it’s always an internal dialogue within her mind, but I guess they didn’t really have a better way to do it on screen, because if it was just their voices inside her mind, the audience might have a hard time telling the difference between Melanie and Wanderer since it would be the same voice for both. But it seems like they could have found some way to distinguish the two voices, as towards the end of the movie I noticed that all of a sudden Melanie’s voice had a southern accent, which wasn’t there earlier in the movie. Because of this choice in how to portray the dialogue between Melanie and Wanderer, it severely limited the amount of communication there could be between Melanie and Wanderer, which prevents us from seeing any sort of caring relationship develop between the two. This was just one contribution to a huge problem with the movie, which was lack of character development.
Since Wanderer is having so much trouble with Melanie, the Seeker wants to put Wanderer into a new body so that she herself can enter Melanie’s body and try to get the information she needs. Melanie convinces Wanderer to escape from the facility, pretending that she wants Wanderer to drive to Texas to get help from her Healer, but with the ulterior motive of driving out into the middle of the desert to try to find her boyfriend, Jared, and little brother, Jamie. Melanie distracts Wanderer with memories of Jared for awhile before Wanderer realizes that Melanie tricked her and they’re heading in the wrong direction. With both of them fighting to control which direction to drive, she ends up flipping the car, coming out relatively unscathed, then wanders aimlessly into the desert, where she is later found by the group of humans Melanie had been searching for. Wanderer is soon nicknamed “Wanda” for short.
The rest of the movie consists of the Seeker trying to find Wanda and the humans, Wanda’s struggles with earning the trust of the human community even though she is a soul, and a poorly constructed love triangle with her, Melanie, Jared, and a guy named Ian, who tries to kill Wanda one minute, and says that he loves her the next. The movie doesn’t convey much passage of time. Some sort of montage showing Ian and Wanda becoming friends over time would have been helpful to make that relationship more believable. We also don’t see much of Wanda’s internal struggle over loving Jared as we do in the book. There’s not enough character development in the movie to make the audience care whether she ends up with Jared or Ian. The movie doesn’t even make us care about Wanda’s relationship with Melanie’s little brother, Jamie, whom she loves like it’s her own brother in the book.
Overall, the movie does stick to most of the major events of the novel, but for the few significant changes the movie made, those changes tended to make the movie less believable as a whole. As someone who has read the book, I could appreciate where they were coming from, but I feel like this movie would be completely lost on someone who has not read the book. Unfortunately, just like the book, the movie has no real climax, because judging from this book and the Twilight novels, apparently Stephenie Meyer doesn’t know how to write a climax. I was hoping one might get written in, like in Breaking Dawn: Part 2, but no such luck for this train wreck of a movie.
My rating: 2. Only because most of the acting was pretty decent.
One Guy’s Perspective:
This week my wife and I decided to visit the ole theater and see The Host. Here is the movie premise: Aliens (known as Souls) travel the universe, taking over the organisms that inhabit the planets that they come across. They have come to Earth and have nearly taken over the entire population. There is a small group of humans that have managed to survive, but are under constant threat of being discovered. Sounds like an awesome movie right? Great sounding Sci-Fi genre movie, or even Sci-Fi/horror movie premise. The part you may or may not know about this movie is that it has been adapted from a book by Stephenie Meyer. Don’t know who she is? Ask any teenage Twilight fanatic, and you’ll know. As ashamed I am to admit it, I may be the only male on Earth who has had the privilege of both reading the book and also seeing the movie. Unfortunately the movie adaptation suffers more than the writings of Stephenie Meyer. The movie lacks any likable characters, poor dialogue, and a poorly flushed out plot, that is clouded by a weird love quad-triangle.
The movie starts with the main character being surrounded by what appears to be the infested humans, and the girl, Melanie (played by Saoirse Ronan) immediately charges for a window, leaping out it, as an apparent suicide attempt. Presumably she is trying to prevent being taken over, but unfortunately for her, she survives the fall. The aliens have developed healing technologies that can repair her body quickly. Melanie is healed and we witness her infestation by her parasite, who is named Wanderer (later shortened to Wanda). This sets up a mental fight between Wanderer and Melanie. The Seeker, who has been overseeing Melanie’s transformation into Wanderer, warns her that occasionally humans put up resistance, if the human is strong willed enough. The Seeker is supposed to be using Wanderer to access Melanie’s memories, to locate the remaining humans. But sure enough, Wanderer is unlucky enough to receive one of the stubborn humans, and Melanie has locked away the most important memories as best she can. Unfortunately, the problem with adapting this sort of movie from a book, is that you lose the subconscious conversations and struggles of Melanie and Wanderer, as Melanie attempts to fight for some control. The movie attempts to portray the internal struggle with Saoirse Ronan voicing over as Melanie at times, but it falls flat, considering most lines deal with which boy is right for Wanderer/Melanie. The weird love triangle (that also destroyed the book for me) is one, completely unbelievable, and two, completely geared at 15 year old girls, just like the Twilight series. In the book, there was extensive enough dialogue to at least acknowledge the existence of the weird romance going on between all characters, but in the movie it is pretty laughable, and strained at best.
Unfortunately, the only likable character in this movie is Jeb (played by William Hurt), and that is a stretch. Wanderer, who is supposed to be over 1000 years old quibbles over her love interest like a teenage girl, completely ruining her character that was initially portrayed as a wise, well traveled Soul. As for the other characters, they feel empty, lacking any real depth. The book/movie also makes it a point to have Wanda make out with both love interests in a span of a minute for the “sake of saving Melanie”. I’ll spare spoiling the entire movie, but the plot seems more of an afterthought, loosely surrounding the odd love interests surrounding Melanie, Wanda, Ian and Jared. Our antagonist, The Seeker, is uncharacteristically (for the Souls) obsessed with attempting to hunt down Wanda, but how this conflict is laid out is rather boring and uneventful. The movie also tries to have a few exciting action and car chase scenes, but again, they are rather cheesy and lack any real ability to motivate anyone to root for the protagonists’ success.
I had high hopes when I read the book, but it fell flat due to the love story filling endless pages. The book touches at least a little on the moral dilemma of what being in human is. When put into movie form, you can’t even appreciate any of the characters or any overarching themes. One particular character goes from attempting to kill Wanda to defending her in the span of about 5 minutes, making you think, “WTF?!”. The few pluses were witnessing how the few humans left managed to struggle on, and how they adapted, and it would have been a better movie if that fleshed that out, along with the larger overarching plot.
In order to be able to appreciate this movie at all, you would have to have read the book, so you can at least see the direction the characters were supposed to be going. Again, it was written by Stephenie Meyer, so even still the characters are difficult to relate to, and the story is still hard to appreciate. I would give the book a 4 out of 10, and I give this movie a 2 out of 10, as I have to believe there is another movie out there I have seen that was worse than this boring atrocity.