ready to get killed here

A bit on the late side, but I have decided to post a review. First, I am going to suggest you ignore the critics and your Stephenie Meyer prejudices, and try to see this movie standing on its own merits. This is not Twilight, and bears little resemblance to the same.
If anything, it is more akin to classic science fiction than anything I recall being released in the past few years. As a lad, I would read things like Slan, The Foundation Trilogy, Dune, and Burroughs? Mars books. The Host is most definitely not The Foundation Trilogy or Dune. But if you took a moderately good alien invasion sci-fi paperback from that era, simplified and distilled it down like you would have to in order to fit the limitations of a 2 hour movie, it would look a lot like?well?The Host.
Honestly, the set-up is beautiful. What on earth (pun-intended) do you do when a rather civil advanced alien race with a conscience shows up on your doorstep, but they just happen to have an unfortunate biological imperative that requires them to snuff out your sentient side? Well, you fight, of course. Or hide. But what if some of them start to realize that what they are coded to do may be morally objectionable, and some of us start to realize that the invaders are not really all that bad, except for the whole parasitic mental hijacking thing? After all, you can?t really blame a great white for eating a baby seal, can you? It?s just what they do.
I am completely unfamiliar with the source material for this movie, but the screenplay actually moved me. Say what you will, but one argument I will not back down from is that this movie easily matches the plot and depth of better written episodes of Star Trek or Star Trek TNGT.
And what about the sappy, stilted Steph Meyer romance that permeates the film? Well, it doesn?t. Not really. ***SPOILERS AHEAD*** I would say the romantic elements of the film occupy about 5 minutes of screen time. And they are not the source of dramatic tension for the story. Not by a long shot (any Edwardian-Jacobian dilemma evaporates before the demands of rationality and the survival instinct in one refreshing scene). Most movies have a romantic element to them anyway. Even Star Wars (albeit, some of it incestuous). Hell, even Darth Vader fell in love once. The real love story here is that of an alien being (represented by Saoirse Ronan) learning to love humanity with all its flaws (represented in large part by William Hurt).
Looming much larger than romance in this film is the recurring theme of self-sacrifice for the good of others. A father for his children. A sister for her brother. An alien for a human. A human for an alien. An alien for all of humanity. And, in one powerful scene, two of the more likable human remnants snuffing out their own lives for the greater good of the other survivors. Honestly, when I read other reviews, I?m not completely sure the critics were even watching the same movie. I suspect their hipster lenses may have been tinted with a strong anti-Meyer patina that only let them see a fraction of the film. As to the execution of the film, it was very passable. The acting was good and the cinematography beautiful. Okay, the internal dialogue of the protagonist could get annoying, and that was a definite distraction. That much is true. But I?m not sure how to better pull that off in terms of representing the interior conflict. And if you didn?t end up loving the Saoirse as Wanda side of her, then you may be suffering from some form of cardiac petrification.
It was awfully convenient for the male lead that the only available human replacement body for his alien love interest, Wanda, was Emily Browning. If you have to give up Hannah, then Babydoll is not a bad option (although this reviewer thought she looked bizarre in the film, even though he and his wife may or may not have an Emily crush). So yes, that was a bit contrived, but there is an all chrome Lotus in the film with outstanding ballistic qualities, so maybe that will soften the blow. You have to love that.
My conclusion is this. If you do not like thoughtful, classic science fiction, like the novels of yesteryear, or Star Trek, then you went to the wrong damn movie. But if you do like those things, then there is not much to dislike here. It is not dark and edgy like Blade Runner, or edgy and weird like The 5th Element. It won?t test you like The Foundation Trilogy (somebody please make that movie), but it is good science fiction and a good film, even if you dislike its pedigree. I?m fairly certain that the Evil Dead crowd or the Alien crowd will not love it, but then, this film was not meant for them, anyway.
------
04-9-2013 11:12 AM

Thread Replies

Please log in to participate in this forum.

Marc Connolly

Marc Connolly

Scott, I have over 40 years of reading, viewing, and writing science fiction. Let me enumerate, in brief, the reasons that this film does not even deserve the 9-10% it has been receiving. Screenplay: All characters, save one unimportant character, are written with the same neutral narrater-in-character's-skin voice. Characters are defined only by name and plot--there is nothing innately unique or interesting that we learn about any of them. We are to believe that a 1,000 year old entity, which presumably comes from a culture which could be eons old, who has the benefit of multiple lifetimes of personal growth and experience on other planets and their corresponding cultures, but presents itself even less complexly than the 20ish year old human. If the "souls" must be inserted in the back of the skull, how did the first take place with nobody to hold the scalpel? We get multiple examples of Deus Ex Machina, most insultingly the existence of the brain dead host and the assumption that the decision and will of such an ancient entity would be so poorly considered and easily thrown away. The Performances: the narration meant to represent the occupied woman almost always lacks any investment in the scene, conjuring the image of the actress just reading the script in a studio with no consideration of context or emotional weight (which is pretty lacking throughout the film anyways.) The young male actors are largely indistinguishable in looks and delivery. Also, there is so little to bring us into the suggested romantic relationships. The former is based on a few very short scenes which actually tell no story of romance, only the evidence that it had presumably happened off camera. The latter is even worse, with these kids making life and death decisions based on a couple of smiles and a kiss. We never learn anything about them, which suggests that they never learn anything about each other. This is not how a relationship is sold to a mature viewing public, and unlike Twilight, we are told that adults are the audience for this dreck. There is much more wrong with this film, but I want to keep it brief and stay out of TLDR territory. If you are scanning these posts: I warn you: do not see this film! It is bad, and not even a bad that is funny. It's the kind of bad that keeps your head swiveling in disbelief, looking to see if others are actually seeing what is assaulting your senses.

Apr 12 - 09:49 PM

Brian Harris

Brian Harris

mind if i use this (with credit to you) in the future?

Apr 12 - 10:23 PM

Nosa Iredia

Nosa Iredia

In the novel it's explained how the souls first performed the surgeries.any soul can perform an emergency insertion which was how they first performed the insertions. However the insertions are done better by the "healers".

Apr 13 - 01:57 AM

Nosa Iredia

Nosa Iredia

In the novel it's explained how the souls first performed the surgeries.any soul can perform an emergency insertion which was how they first performed the insertions. However the insertions are done better by the "healers".

Apr 13 - 01:57 AM

Nicole Noblitt

Nicole Noblitt

While I may agree with many of your points, I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to think it out, rather than just hating or loving for no real reason.

Apr 12 - 08:07 PM

Diego Tutweiller

The Artist Formerly Known as Tutweiller

If you legitimately think that anyone plans on reading something as long as this about a movie nobody even liked, you are quite deluded.

Apr 12 - 11:04 AM

R. E.

Richard E

How refreshing to read a review where the writer has gone to see this movie with an open mind and appreciated it for its content, rather than imagining they saw what they expected to see, which is what most of the so-called professional film critics seem to have done. Thank you, Scott Hunter, for redressing the balance somewhat. I too estimated the romantic content as occupying no more than about 5 minutes of screen time and was bewildered by the critics harping on about it. It is not the most important theme in the story. As Scott has pointed out, far more important is that of self-sacrifice. No fewer than five characters sacrifice their lives, or are prepared to sacrifice their lives, in order to ensure the safety or happiness of those they care about. This is a love far deeper than romantic love ? how did the critics miss it? Psychological myopia with a heavy dose of prejudice would be my guess.

Another important theme is the nature of what it means to be human, with the intriguing paradox of the central alien character proving to be more humane ? pun intended ? than any of the humans. Indeed, the play on the words human/humane is used in a line in the film ? spoken by The Seeker ? and, of course, this was used as an excuse for spiteful criticism by some.

This is a character driven story devoid of wall-to-wall cartoonish violence with very loud explosions so beloved of the movie industry (Thank God!), and a thoughtful one. For much of the time it has a quiet, measured, contemplative, almost haunting, mood which complements the personality of the main alien character. Beautifully done, in my opinion. Contemplative without wall-to-wall very loud explosions. Explains why some people hate it, I guess.

Unlike Scott Hunter I have read the source material, the book. And unlike most of the population of this planet it seems, I didn't have a clue who Stephenie Meyer was when I read the book, nor had I heard of the Twilight series. Just as well really. Had I assumed The Host was similar to the Twilight series ? as the critics seem to have done ? I would have missed one of the most enjoyable reads I have had in a long time. I can recommend the book to those who have not read it yet. The narrative is vivid, the dialogue excellent, the relationships both romantic and non-romantic are more deeply explored, and if you fail to be moved by the maternal protectiveness that develops in the main alien character for her host's kid brother, then you have the heart of stone that Scott refers to. ***SPOILER ALERT*** Oh, and the convenience of the replacement body feels less contrived in the book in that the humans deliberately go out to find a suitable body whilst respecting Wanderer's desire no longer to lead a parasitic existence at the expense of another sentient being.

So ? is the film as good as the book? Not in my opinion, but it's still a good film. The book gives you a more complete story and is far more convincing as to how a relationship between Ian and Wanderer could happen, for example. The film gives you a gorgeous visual treat and some first rate acting, and still a coherent storyline despite so much in the book being omitted. Four out of five stars from me.

Apr 12 - 04:45 AM

R. E.

Richard E

Just to add: all those spurious question marks were em dashes before I copy-pasted from a word processor. Seems the site software didn't recognise them. I'll adjust my punctuation accordingly next time I post.

Apr 12 - 05:01 AM

Brian Harris

Brian Harris

That's a really long way of saying that everyone but you is wrong.

Apr 12 - 02:31 PM

Find us on:                     
Help | About | Jobs | Critics Submission | Press | API | Licensing | Mobile