The Host Reviews
Convoluted and cliche, this film is uninspired in every way. The rival boys, a bland recasting of Jacob and Edward without all the sparkling personality, are indistinguishable in looks and character, and Melanie doesn't emerge as unique. The plot plods along predictably, and the characters remain undeveloped.
William Hurt, the sole reason I sat through this film, delivers a fine performance. He can't be blamed, but it's sad that even in The Village he got a great monologue that served to be worthy of his talents but in this film there's not a single inspired moment.
Overall, what will it take for all of us to agree that Stephanie Meyer sucks.
Actually, I don't mind Twilight, so I wasn't put off by the Stephanie Meyer thing. It's a little long, and wooden in places, but I found this decent. I had read the book, and honestly, I couldn't even see how they would be able to make a film of it with much of it bring conflict between one body with two souls. Sairose does a good job considering. Good suspense sci fi with love triangle. Kept me interested.
Very good film! This movie you will either enjoy or hate to be honest. If you want something that is action-packed and filled with cool sci-fi moments do not see this movie. Yes the movie is sci-fi but it's more about romance. It also is a tad slower. There were cheesy moments but it was still really sweet and well done. Basically what I am saying, is if you like romance with a twist go and see it! If you are expecting something like Gattaca, you will be disappointed. The cinematography was awesome from the desert scenes to the futuristic. Finally Saoirse Ronan just killed it, specially the way she tells the story, you are connected to the movie soon and enjoy watching it, I remember her play in "the lovely bones" she is more mature now and always she's been consistent and so talented actress. While there are no vast battles and the setup of the resolution is slightly confusing, I still greatly enjoyed this thoughtful film.
A race of aliens who are non corporeal go from planet to planet looking for hosts. They come to Earth and basically take over human bodies. Now it's believed that once they take over a body all memories of the previous inhabitant are gone. And there are some humans who have remain hidden from them and are basically a resistance movement. So an alien charged with locating them known as the Seeker captures one of them a girl named Melanie and puts one of them who is known as Wanderer in her body, in hopes of finding out where the humans are. But Melanie for some reason is still there and she convinces Wanderer not to say anything to Seeker. Wanderer feels empathy for the humans. When Seeker is disappointed at her lack of progress, she informs Wanderer that she'll be removed and placed in a new host and she will be placed in Melanie. Melanie knowing she can't convince her the way she convinced Wanderer convinces Wsnderer to run away and they can meet with the humans. Eventually they find them but only want to kill her but Jeb, Melanie's uncle for some reason doesn't want to. Jared, Melanie's boyfriend wants her dead too. But Ian someone Jeb tasked with keeping her safe finds himself attracted to her but Melanie won't allow it because she wants to go back to Jared. But how do they get Wanderer out of her. And Seeker is trying to find her.
If your a teenage girl, maybe around 13 you might love this movie. Otherwise, do not waste your time.
I am not entirely sure what else to say. I guess if this movie where the only plot lined story on at 3am in the middle of the night, when you have insomnia, then it might be worth watching, if your quite bored and have little else to do. The special effects are good enough. The setting is semi-absurd.
The aliens themselves lack character, culture, definition, and the human characters equally lack emotional depth, character definition.
There seems to be little in the way of character development either, and the "conflict" that normally drives the storyline was pretty inconsistent, and basically non-existent, same goes for the resolution and climax of the story.
Set on earth years after an invading alien race has already conquered, life isn't too bad. There aren't any wars or pollution or hunger. The aliens, looking like little glowworms, latch onto the spines of humans and use them as hosts. They control the bodies of the humans but some of us won't go down willingly. Melanie (Saoirse Ronan) is an 18-year-old gal who fights as part of a resistance movement, led by her Uncle Jeb (William Hurt). The aliens abduct her and Melanie's body gets a new owner - Wanderer, also referred to as Wanda. Good old Melanie is still in her head, feisty, and goading Wanda into finding Melanie's family hiding out in the desert with Jeb. Also there is Melanie's boyfriend, Jared (Max Irons), who is upset that his girlfriend has become "one of them." Ian (Jake Abel), on the other hand, is adjusting well to the change, as he falls for Wanda and she him. In between these hormonal complications, Wanda is being chased by the appropriately named Seeker (Diane Kruger), who is deadest on bringing some human-style violence to Wanda/Melanie and the resistance fighters.
The Host, like much of Meyer's more popular Twilight saga, is a rather dramatically inert story that just seems to exist with little sense of momentum or direction or purpose, beyond providing another bloodless onscreen romance that ceaselessly finds unsettling messages to convey to young girls. Once again it all comes down to a stifling romantic triangle where none of the participants ever seems to work up the necessary passion to garner continual interest. There's a bit more heavy petting going on but even when these people are having sex dreams, they imagine Melanie with her bra on (such a limited imagination). Please don't confuse this as some implicit regret on my part that the movie didn't sexualize its lead heroine (she'll be turning 19 soon, so fear not pervs). At least the Twilight movies can be seen through the prism of pre-teen wish fulfillment. The Host, on the other hand, is just an Invasion of the Body Snatchers-style sci-fi movie where no one seems that preoccupied with anything too urgent. If the aliens are really that gung-ho to root out the resistance fighters, why aren't they looking for heat signatures? Why aren't they studying truck movements? The fighters aren't very stealth-like in their comings and goings either. Hell, why don't they even just keep a lookout for people wearing sunglasses, an obvious sign they have something to hide. It's like the aliens and the humans are simply just going about their business without any danger. That's because the ultimate fulcrum with which all the plot hinges upon is the romantic whims of a teen girl teaching an alien how to love. Sigh.
The least successful adaptation is likely including Melanie in the action through the use of bratty voiceover. She likes to chime in with snide remarks and pushes Wanda away when she starts getting feelings of her own for another boy. It is simply unbearable. You ever been stuck in the car with a really annoying brat? That's what it felt like. Now I realize that having the dueling voices was an easier prospect on the printed page, but a similar challenge was tackled with 2003's Dreamcatcher when an alien possessed Damien Lewis. We had a visual representation of Lewis taking refuge inside his own head. That was better than watching him, and it pains me even now to type it, engage in an argument with himself where the voice of the alien adopts a British accent. Maybe we could have had a better visual representation of Melanie inside Wanda, or maybe something with mirrors, that's always a good go-to visual for characters of dueling minds. As developed, The Host feels like Melanie's strapped in next to you, providing incessant and annoying commentary, and all you want to do is tell the kid to shut up.
Given the world-conquering plot elements, I can't help but think Meyer found one of the least interesting stories to tell within this world. The invasion aspect seems far more compelling a story to tell than one girl stuck in a love triangle. I suppose it's because Meyer is bringing a different perspective to science fiction, but I found most of this movie to be unbearably boring. And her premise, while flawed, could have been workable. Learning to live a symbiotic relationship with an alien that controls your physical being, there's plenty of room there to tell an interesting and insightful story. The issues of identity and control could be richly explored. Instead, we get Melanie liking one boy and Wanda liking another, and so Melanie fights from inside to stop Wanda from acting out her exciting new feelings. Give the scope of everything going on, alien invaders and underground resistance organizations, it all feels so slight and myopic and overindulged melodrama. I suppose the whole thing could be a metaphor for puberty, a teen girl whose body is taken over by an alien presence, causing her to act irrationally and deal with swoons of affection she doesn't know how to properly handle, causing her to act out and alter her perceptions of herself. Then again, I may just be giving Meyer and the movie more credit than they deserve.
The saddest part for me was that Andrew Niccol directed this movie as well as adapted the screenplay. He is responsible for these characters, these plot beats, these samples of dialogue. This is the man who gave us The Truman Show, Gattaca, and Lord of War. Granted, Niccol's last movie, 2011's In Time was a great idea in need of a far better script, but I always have high hopes with this man given his track record. From a visual standpoint, he takes a few pages from Gattaca where everything in the world is sleek and shiny and looking like an orgasmic car commercial. The cinematography by Roberto Schaefer (Marc Forster's longtime DP) is crisp with plenty of cool colors to signify the mood of our pleasant overlords. There are plenty of nice things to look at, and female fans will likely extend that compliment to the young men duking I out for Melanie/Wanda's affections. It's just that everything moves so glacially, so stubbornly slow, that the movie feels like it's run out of gas long before it's over. At over two hours, there desperately needed to be some judicious chopping with this movie's flabby midsection. If you're not a fan of Meyer's book, Niccol fails to give you any tangible reason why you should care or keep watching. I even thought about leaving at one point, and that's an urge I can usually quell, so that's how monotonous it truly got.
It's nice to see Ronan (Hanna) growing into the capable leading lady we all thought she could be, though this movie does her no favors (gone is the gangly awkwardness of The Lovely Bones). I understand that for the majority of the movie she's playing Wanda, the alien controlling the body of Melanie. There are going to be certain limitations to this portrayal, but Ronan just sounds overly sedated for most of the movie. Then there's her annoying voiceover, which dips into a Southern accent at several intervals. I guess when Mel gets mad it brings out her roots? Likewise with Meyer's heroine du jour, Bella Swan, I just don't see what all the fuss is about over this character. She's a pretty plain heroine with courageous whims but it's another example of a film where the supporting characters have to key us in on character traits we just aren't picking up on our own.
I'm always puzzled when filmmakers decide to make their aliens so, well, alien. Independent evolution in a different star system is going to develop some funky designs, sure, but when you got magical glowworms as your sentient life, I find it hard to believe that they built all that super duper technology to achieve their world-domination. A glowworm made a spaceship? With its glowworm tentacles and it's size of about three inches? At least the aliens on Star Trek looked like they knew there way around auto shop. For that matter, we're in the future where everybody drives a crazy shiny vehicle no matter how off road it gets, but the stupid alien occupiers can't master the tricky science of contact lenses? And this goes for the human rebels as well. The telltale sign you're controlled by the aliens or not is the translucent blue ring around your iris, but why hasn't either side just popped in some contacts to blend in? The aliens can master space travel but get squeamish about things touching their eyes?
The Host is another of Meyer's poorly plotted, insipid melodrama that manages to be all about teen hormones except those hormones feels so hermetically sealed off. It's another neutered romance, and this was supposed to be her so-called "adult book"? It's the same themes and tropes from her non-adult Twilight series, just with a coating of sci-fi rather than supernatural. Even Niccol, admittedly in a bit of a slump, can't save this picture, and ultimately the overly long, lightly plotted, and tremendously tedious affair lumbers to its predictable conclusion, replete with happy ending (let's just say that Ian gets a hotness upgrade as far as his lover). The concept of an alien species stripping human beings of free will and living not just amongst us but within us, that's a solid idea that could make for a compelling story. Meyer found the dumbest story to tell, her bread and butter, a love triangle where both guys have struck her at some point in the film (dwell on that). It pains me that The Host may have been Roger Ebert's last movie. As far as I'm concerned, this movie murdered Ebert.
Nate's Grade: D
Even at the best of times, it can be hard to visualize certain concepts of science fiction for the big screen. At the worst of times, you have the anticlimactic "The Host" which states in its own less than credible way that what makes us all human is inane soap opera, as expressed by author Stephenie Meyer's awkward sexual politics.(If Saoirse Ronan ends up looking lost, you know there is something seriously wrong with the story.) Even after a bad start, the movie does get somewhat better when William Hurt shows up on the scene. And Diane Kruger shows an adeptness for playing an alien that she had not shown for playing human beings over the past decade.
The Host takes place on Earth when an unseen enemy threatens mankind by taking over their bodies and erasing their memories. Melanie will risk everything to protect the people she cares most about, proving that love can conquer all in a dangerous new world. The sci-fi elements are minimal and what little their is very weak with it allegory being sloppily executed. Here we have an alien species called the "Souls" which we are told are peaceful creatures. The way the film gets around this is contradicting itself in order to have a conflict. The conflict is lackluster in the worst possible way being resolve unsatisfactory. The main interesting element that could have been explored is "Seeker" internal struggle within herself could have added some depth to the Nazi-ish like allegory of the alien species. Instead it's easily resolve and like the whole film a wasted potential. The resistance characters are okay, but some of their action will leave you baffle. The ending is unforgivable being a forced happy ending. This ending pretty much contradicts everything that came before it.
The romance in particular is a big part of what bugged me for taking up a chuck of the story with Meyers upping the over dramatization with a love square. Apparently to Meyers it's acceptable to love two different people so long if you have two souls in one body. The romance is very contrived. Both of Melanie love interests are not developed or very likable. We have one scene with Melanie and love interest Jared Howe before being implied they had sex. Simply one scene before implying the two had sex works against Jared for we get the impression he just wants sex. It doesn't help Jared character when he first meets Melanie when he threaten her at knife point. The other love interest named Ian attempted to kill Melanie early in the movie, but than changes his mind. Ian is better developed, but both males are okay with the fact they keep kissing the same girl. So you either have to root for the guy who had sex with Melanie after their first encounter or the guy who we're first introduce to when he attempted to kill Melanie. Also the cliche kiss in the rain for the couple happens twice looking almost identical. As for the alien inside of Melanie body its....I'll leave it at it is disrespectful to the dead killing what strong drama it had before it.
The direction is down right uninspired to the point of being laughable. To give an idea of how minuscule this world is developed and lacking personality we have a store called "Store". Visually speaking it's get tiring seeing shots of the barren desert. The alien technology are all shining and that all there is to distinguish there technology from ours. Visually speaking the most appealing view comes in the form of Diane Kruger. Bravo for her, it's ever so rare I see an actress completely outshining the film visuals. I do rather like Kruger presence, but it's impossible to enjoy her performance when the first halve is sloppily edited. Saoirse Ronan puts in a terrific performance who unfortunately is not enough save the film. We have scenes where she talks to herself Gollum-style at times ranging from good unintentional laugh to mild annoyance. It's a shame she wasn't given a better script for she makes it worthwhile despite how awful everything else is. For the most part I can't say anything negative about the cast. They put a solid effort and did the best they could given the poor material they had to work with. The cast is the only aspect of the movie that works, it's a shame the talent that went into this was wasted.
The Host suffers heavily from it poor writing and uninspired direction that neither the romance or sci-fi become appeal to anyone. Saosirse Ronan is a talented actress, but sadly this won't be the film that'll make her a huge star despite her powerful performance it's not enough to warrant a viewing. The Host is one of those "what could have been" films that you can't help imagine being better than how it turned out.
The distributors of 'The Host' opted not to screen the film for critics; never a good omen. I guess they saw the general critical mauling of the 'Twilight' series, whose author, Stephanie Meyer, wrote the novel this film is based on, and decided it better to keep things quiet before release. Somehow, I've managed to avoid experiencing the 'Twilight' phenomenon for myself so I had no preconceptions of 'The Host' to draw on. To me it just appeared to be another sci-fi movie from the lineage of 'Invasion of the Body-Snatchers' and 'The Thing'. How wrong I was. 'The Host' is an absolute travesty of a film, already a strong contender for this year's Rotten Waffle award.
Whatever of Meyer's influence, the blame has to be placed solely at writer-director Niccol's feet. He opts to convey the communication between Melanie and Wanderer through voice-over. The effect is hilarious for the first couple of minutes as you're instantly reminded of Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin's similar interaction from 'All of Me'. When you realize you're going to have to put up with this for the rest of the movie, it quickly becomes exceptionally aggravating. Ronan is a fine young actress but she really struggles with this preposterous idea. Most of her scenes consist of close-ups of the actress looking confused while she awkwardly, and laughably, argues with herself. I can't believe that at no point in the film's production did nobody acknowledge how ridiculous and anti-cinematic this idea was.
'The Host' could have served as a nice gateway for young girls into the world of sci-fi but, as with all of Niccol's past films, it's a wasted opportunity; one which you'll need to be wasted yourself before attempting to watch.
There are only so many strengths to this film, but what commendable efforts there are behind this project quite the way, with, of all things, Antonio Pinto's original score being admittedly fairly impressive, for although Pinto's efforts' overusage throughout the film gets to be a touch tiresome after a while, especially when their general steadiness intensifies the slow spells in pacing that make the final product so dull, their marriage of tastefully minimalist soul with stylish technical touches is refreshing and musically lovely, maybe even complimentary to what effective moments there are in this film. Pinto turns in no stellar score, but his work deserves more credit than it's getting for its soul and competence, because if their is a relatively engaging moment in this mostly disengaging film, its effectiveness is reinforced by Pinto's musical touches, which are decidedly not the only things whose strongest moments help in giving this film its strongest moments. As I'll touch more upon later, the acting in this film is hardly generally up to par, and it's not like there's all that much to work with, but, as I expected, Saoirse Ronan delivers about as much as she can, being not only convincing with her once again flawless accent, but as two gradually changing forces occupying one vessel, using layers and the occasional strong dramatic note to sell you on the Melanie Stryder and Wanderer characters' internal tug-a-war and shifts in character, both between each other and within themselves. Certainly, Ronan isn't given too much to do as this film's carrier, and doesn't push as much as usual to bypass material limitations, so don't expect her to deliver nearly as much as she did in "The Lovely Bones" or "Hanna", but make no mistake, she comes about as close as anyone or anything in saving the film as decent, which should tell you just how much of a mess this film is. Even with a decent lead who has her share of high notes in acting, the final product can't begin to hope escaping mediocrity, and that's a shame, because if it's not Ronan's performance or Pinto's score that ignite some slight degree of intrigue, it's Stephanie Meyer's basic story concept, which is not too terribly original, nor cleansed of cheesy beats that the plot is forced to have in order to move along, but holds a potential for some degree of uniqueness, as well as thematic and dramatic depths that could earn quite of a bit of your investment in this sci-fi opus. As you can probably imagine, the faultiness of this execution of a somewhat decent story concept is frustrating, and it's not like Meyer's ideas ever stood a chance of being executed into all that commendable of a film, but there is some value to this concept, and you are bound to get the occasional glimpse of such value after a while, thus sparking high points that marry with, well, the film's being too bland to be bad to make a final product that stands secure away from contempt. With that said, oh man, does this film fall flat as a mediocre disappointment, being with its share of undeniable strengths, but not enough to compensate for the problems, of which there are many.
What momentum there is to the film isn't exactly all over the place, but among the most messy aspects to Andrew Niccol's direction is unevenness in pacing, which jars back and forth between intensity in atmospheric kicks, but at least keeps consistent in boasting major flaws in either pacing extreme, with the hurried spots thinning out exposition, almost, if not decidedly into dissipation that renders the story and its character seriously undercooked. It's hard to describe just how lacking the lack of meat to expository depth is, for although the final product doesn't exactly tell you nothing about its substance, shortcomings in development distance engagement value about as much as the spells in pacing that are anything but hurried, and are instead limp, maybe even glacial in their dragging the plot along as dull and dry, with not enough flavor to compensate for too much talk and not enough action or, for that matter, depth to all of the talking. Pacing issues, alone, do some serious damage to the intrigue in the execution of this somewhat intriguing story concept, often rushing through exposition and often retarding atmospheric kick to the point of distancing your investment, particularly in the characters who drive this film, and aren't exactly helped by some of the performances. Like I said, Soairse Ronan is good, and such other, even more seasoned talents as Scott Lawrence, the sometimes impressive Diane Kruger and reasonably charming William Hurt are alright, but on the whole, near-paper-thin acting material results in mediocre performances, sometimes accompanied by just plain weak performers, from some awkwardly unconvincing tertiaries to Jake Abel and Max Irons, who prove to be unconvincing in a fashion that ranges from somewhat offputting to near-laughable. The supporting performances outside of the aforementioned decents aren't horrible, but if they don't fall flat as too underwritten to be all that worthwhile, they're faulty, which isn't to say that they can entirely be blamed for their shortcomings, because you can do only so much to sell material this messily written. Now, by now, I think it's safe to say that the not so superficial can agree that Stephanie Meyer is no Jane Austen, but I've grown to have some appreciation for Andrew Niccol as a screenwriter, because he's one to hve some unique tastes, as well as other strengths, but in this film, his unexpectedly poor interpretation of Meyer's flawed vision betrays the value of this basic story concept and delivers what might be the heaviest blow to this film, boasting a bit of episodicity that supplements some unevenness in story structure, as well as dialogue that ranges from bland to just downright embarassing, and calls your attention more toward the overbearing histrionics and genericisms that loom over the final product throughout its course, blanding things up tremendously and making the ultimately dominant other issues that more undeniable. I know that the issues don't sound too considerable, and sure, the final product's problems aren't exactly fiercely frustrating, but boy, there sure are a lot of issues, and they spark a distance that may be too bland to be bad, but disengages time and again, until what you ultimately end up with a film that could have been decent, and almost is, but ultimately falls flat as mediocre.
Bottom line, Antonio Pinto turns in commendable score work, while Saoirse Ronan turns in a decent, sometimes even strong lead performance, and both efforts go into breathing life into the high points that give a glimpse at the value within Stephanie Meyer's basic story concept, which ignites some moderate degree of intrigue, though not enough to sustain your investment, which is shaken by pacing unevenness that often hurries exposition thin and just as often slows momentum into dullness, as well as by mostly underwhelming supporting performances, and truly distanced by a weak script, whose structural unevenness and faulty dialogue back the histrionics and other storytelling issues that go into making Andrew Niccol's adaptation of Stephanie Meyer's "The Host" a borderline decent, but ultimately blandly fall-flat misfire that disappoints as mediocre.
2.25/5 - Mediocre
In this PG-13-rated adaptation of Meyers's sci-fi adventure, Melanie Stryder (Ronan) risks everything to protect the people she cares most about - proving that love can conquer all in a dangerous new world - when an unseen enemy threatens mankind by taking over their bodies and erasing their memories.
Continuing a great run of performances that started with Atonement and continued with Hanna, Saoirse Ronan brings depth and emotion to the embattled alien 'Wanderer' who still has remnants of Melanie, the human she inhabited. Her head believably becomes a tennis match...almost. If only the script gave as authentic a performance. Both the human and alien sides of the main character play invasion of the booty snatchers with respective suitors to varying effects. Talk about clone though. Heck, there's even a making-out-in-the-rain scene seemingly nicked from a Nicolas Sparks adaptation. Conflictingly, there are also some engaging moments (a tender scene between Melanie and her brother, for example), which makes The Host a genuinely mixed bag.
Bottom line: Spaced invader.