“The Host” Review
There are some novels whose integrity must be protected, and there are some novels where the filmmakers need to gently tell the author that changes must be made. Stephanie Meyer’s The Host is a prime example of a film that could have been wonderful had the sappy, overly-dramatic, plot-hole filled storyline been given a serious makeover.
The basic idea behind The Host actually has potential for a thought-provoking film. Aliens from another planet invade Earth and bond with humans through their nervous system. In this process, the human’s mind fades away and the alien takes over. Wanderer, one of the extraterrestrials, has trouble suppressing the personality and memories of her host body, Melanie, and is drawn into the human resistance.
However this is Stephanie Meyer, which means the seemingly good story is marred with an unbelievable and uncomfortable love triangle. Melanie is tragically still in love with her human hunk, Jared, while Wanderer falls for resistance member Ian. Needless to say the fact that Melanie and Wanderer share the same body makes every romance scene horribly awkward. An ambiguous ending has audience members praying Stephanie Meyer was done sucking up the world’s wealth.
As Ian, Jared and Melanie struggle with raging teenage hormones, the audience is unsure if they are supposed to laugh at a scene or if it was a failed attempt at drama. Some of the lines are just plain cheesy and seem lazy on the writers’ part. Also, where the Twilight films lacked emotion entirely, The Host is overly emotional with someone shedding a tear about every ten minutes. On top of that, the film constantly has audiences asking questions (such as how does someone grow acres of wheat underground or how Ian and Wanderer are madly in love despite their complete lack of a full conversation). The result is a script that is in desperate need of realistic revision.
It seems that after Kristen Stewart stone-faced it through four movies, production companies decided they needed to look for an actress who can actually act. Luckily they found Saoirse Ronan, known for her previous roles in Atonement and The Lovely Bones. Her depiction of the two different characters has a good mix of well-played emotion and comedic one-liners. Ronan is also the only actress in the film to not appear stiff; instead she is dynamic and performs as well as she can under the restriction of a poorly written script.
Her love interests, however, could have used a few tips. Max Irons (Jared) and Jake Abel (Ian) rely heavily on their looks and lack any kind of chemistry with Ronan, whether she is Wanderer or Melanie. Their overly-dramatic delivery and drawn-out gazes are more comedic than dramatic and are often met with laughing outbursts instead of love struck awes. Sadly the love triangle in The Host is doomed to suffer the same ridicule as its counterpart in Meyer’s other novels.
Where the writing and the acting overall fail, the filmmaking aspect is worthwhile. A dessert setting lends itself to real backdrops for car chases and long walks in the rain. Camera angles that accent the beauty of the nation’s more rural areas give The Host a familiar feel; the audience can actually relate to this place as opposed to the CGI alien city. If at any point you find the acting impossible to watch, and you most likely will at some time, find comfort in the stunning setting.
Even the costumes overshadow the plotline. Whether it is laughing at the fact that the female aliens wear heels in any terrain or that a film for once created a believable futuristic fashion, you will always have something to look at and critique. The aliens wear vibrant, clean outfits that enhance their perfection while the humans are forced to wear threadbare clothing that has seen better days. At least the clothing is dynamic and original, unlike other features.
The Host gets a resounding “good try” as it has a decent idea that unfolded terribly. One almost has to feel bad for the production team that put in a solid effort. Note for the future, make sure the script is good before you pour millions of dollars and hours of time into a film that will maybe gain a good rating from twelve-year olds (maybe).