Directed by Andrew Niccol
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Diane Kruger, Max Irons, Jake Abel, William Hurt
It's hard for Stephenie Meyer-based films to not accidentally lean towards the Twilight side of cinema, or so it seems on this first adaptation attempt on a Meyer novel outside of the vampire franchise.
The Host follows the people of Earth after an alien race has invaded, taking over each person's body. When Melanie (Saoirse Ronan, whose Academy Award-nominated talent helps carry the movie), one of the last known humans remaining, attempts to kill herself by jumping out of a window, she ends up being caught and implanted with a being known as Wanderer (or Wanda, for short). Melanie's soul (which is still alive) fights against Wanda's control and ends up convincing her to seek out other humans and forming an alliance, essentially causing peace between the alien beings and the humans of Earth. Though the humans aren't quick to accept her, she eventually convinces them that Melanie is still alive inside of her, despite the crazed eyes that have become the main clue of which beings are human and which are alien-controlled.
Diane Kruger is the other powerhouse here, as The Seeker, the one in charge of the beings currently on Earth. Once she realizes the Wanderer has sabotaged the plans, she turns on her best bad guy looks and phrases and storms around the desert in search of Melanie/Wanda.
Going into the movie it makes sense to expect something along the lines of Twilight. It's hard not to with the trailer built the way it is (although, Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" is a great song). The movie excels in the fact that it is full of some more grown up ideals and moments, allowing for a more thought-provoking and original story. The movie falls behind once it introduces the romantic elements. It isn't presented in a believable way, but takes on a total Hollywood, kiss in the rain romance that completely distracts from the overall excitement of the story.
Meyer seems to depend on romance to carry her stories, and taking The Host for what it's intended means that it does reach each and every proverbial romance peak. There's the flirting, the flashbacks, and even a love triangle. For being a movie aimed at an older crowd than that of Twilight, it doesn't quite succeed. I'm sure the book leans more towards the experienced crowd, but producers no doubt wanted to please the few Twi-hards that made their way into the theater this weekend.
The effects are good enough to pass and the stylistic choices of setting and place are pleasing to the eye. Props for letting the dialogue outshine the need for "cool" looking places. The music carries the film the way it should. And, even Melanie's voice-overs that show up towards the beginning of the movie aren't overly annoying.
I have a sour taste in my mouth when it comes to the Twilight franchise and I definitely went in to The Host expecting similar fare. What I got, however, was an attempt to branch away from the poor quality and give the audience a true, genuinely original story. While there are some doubts that it is as good as it could be, The Host is a great step forward and does provide enough entertainment to make it worth it.
The Host opens in theaters tomorrow, March 29.
Runtime: 125 minutes