SAIORSE RONAN   DIANE KRUGER   WILLIAM HURT   JUDY DAVIS   MAX IRONS

THE HOST

 The Host is yet another start-up franchise begging to take the place of the Twilight series, which has occupied young teens for the past five years. Based on the novel by Twilight author Stephanie Meyers and directed by Andrew Niccol, The Host’s desperation is it’s downfall. Niccol burst onto the scene in the late 90’s with original and unique screenplays like Gattaca and The Truman Show, but has had nothing but false starts ever since. Those familiar with Niccol’s work will see fragments in his screenplay for The Host that reflect some of his work on Gattaca. It’s understandable why Niccol was chosen for this project, his worlds always feel grandiose and expansive without the big budget price tag.

  The world has been taken over by an alien life form that is hosting inside human bodies (their eyes turn bright blue). There are few humans left, but they have created a resistance; since the aliens come in peace, there isn’t much fighting back, just the incentive not to get caught. In order to protect her boyfriend (Max Irons) and little brother Chandler Canterbury) ,Melanie (Ronan) jumps out of a glass window, but doesn’t die. Now a host named Wanderer, with a strong sense of Melanie in her head, returns to the humans' hiding place and attempt to expose them, or change everything the humans have perceived about the aliens.

  The first half of this movie is a real struggle to take anything coming out of Ronan’s mouth seriously. The initial set up is a rough one, with Melanie’s voiceover and Wanderer talking to the voice it’s like a female Gollum, only one talks like a redneck. The latter half of the script is stronger once we understand that sacrifice is going to be a part of this journey. Unfortunately, Meyer’s story is nothing more than a carbon copy of the relationships we saw in the Twilight saga: one woman trying to choose between two men. Ronan’s performance also seems a little too familiar, like Hanna, which compared to this is a masterpiece.

  “You are mad when I kiss the man you love, and mad when I kiss the one you don’t. It’s very confusing,” Wanderer tells Melanie. The film is clearly (and unfortunately) geared towards teenage girls and all the relationship stuff comes off overly dramatic and more like something you might see on television. Oscar nominees Hurt and Kruger do very little to elevate the quality of the material presented here. Thankfully, The Host wasn’t a success, nor did it make the type of box office profit to warrant a sequel.

Final Thought – Swaps vampires and werewolf’s for aliens.

Grade C-

By: Dustin Chase

 

Dr. Donna Copeland’s

2nd OPINION

 This whimsical tale about aliens from another planet occupying earth and the humans on it is not new, but it is well executed by Andrew Niccol, writer and director, based on Stephanie Meyer’s novel, The Host.   Lead character Melanie (Saoirse Ronan) is a strong young woman who would rather die than give away the ones she loves.  And her strong will keeps her alive enough to have a soul implant, that of ‘Wanderer’, later shortened to ‘Wanda’.  What follows is a sometimes humorous exchange between Melanie and Wanda in the same body, because, unlike most, Melanie is too strong to be erased from the new being.  She is given to a Seeker (Diane Kruger) to keep her on the right path, and this woman follows her every move.

 Melanie and Wanda argue about running away to find Melanie’s brother Jamie (Chandler Canterbury) and boyfriend Jared (Max Irons).  Their dispute ends up in a car accident, whereupon Melanie forces Wanda to strike out across the desert on foot in hopes of locating them.  They do encounter a small band of resistors to the takeover, one of whom is Uncle Jeb (William Hurt).  Some are hostile toward her because, although she looks the same as always, she has the telltale eyes of those who have been treated with soul insertion, so is a liability.  Fortunately, Uncle Jeb still sees her as family, and as head of the clan, he can insist that she stay with them.  Jeb has built an elaborate cave that is hidden from the outside, but large enough to grow fields of wheat inside.

 Conflicts among clan members and between them and the Seekers chasing them keep the excitement going, fueled further by Wanda being attracted to Ian (Jake Abel), while Melanie is still in love with Jared.  In the end, a difficult choice has to be made, and the issue of Melanie/Wanda is resolved.

 Although this is primarily an entertainment film, it does present a philosophical struggle.  The aliens are peaceful and eschew violence (excluding occupying another planet, of course), at least within their own ranks.   They tend to be nice, polite, and follow orders. The film seems to be saying that in order to have that kind of society, people must give up much of their individual identities and submit to external controls.  Having more freedom allows for more conflict—as in Jeb’s clan.  (Although it’s not a democracy, says Jeb to those who think it is; he tells them it’s a benevolent dictatorship).  In the end, Wanda demonstrates that she has learned something from the experience by coming up with a plan that will promote peace.     

Grade:  C+