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.