Saiorse Ronan, William Hurt, Jake Abel, Diane Kruger, Frances Fisher, Jay Baruchel DIRECTED BY
Andrew Niccol SCREENPLAY
Andrew Niccol, Stephenie Meyer MPAA RATING
Rated PG-13 RUNNING TIME
125 Mins. DISTRIBUTED BY
Open Road Films DVD EXTRAS
“Bringing The Host To Life” Interview and behind-the-scenes segment
“Seeker PSA” feature commentary
"The Host" is Not Very Hospitable
I'm still not sure if it's a fair comparison to say that if you're a fan of the Twilight films that you're going to most likely enjoy this film based upon yet another novel by Stephenie Meyers. While The Host is different, in many ways it's the same old paint-by-numbers lit-inspired cinema formula including a few modest action sequences surrounded by excessively faux meditative experiences and eloquent waxings about life, love, universality, etc.
The premise is fairly basic. One soul, known as The Wanderer, is fused with a captured human known as Melanie (Saoirse Ronan) in an effort to locate the last packet of human beings unimpacted by a seemingly benign yet invasive takeover of humanity by alien beings.
While we're not dealing with vampires or werewolves or human beings making the choice to become one, there's still a romantic thread to be found in The Host as Melanie's ability to cling to lost love and her past successfully fends off her complete takeover and, in fact, she and the soul that has possessed her become at least modestly united while having decidedly different romantic tastes.
The Host isn't really that bad if you're already a fan of Stephenie Meyers and you get into the overall vibe that she tries to create with her stories. However, if you considered most of the Twilight series to be drivel then there's most likely nothing in this film that will change your mind despite the existence of the wonderful Saoirse Ronan. Ronan is a marvelous actress, as she's proven time and again, but this is clearly not her kind of material and the performance is only slightly more resonant than that of Natalie Portman's ill-fated attempts at Star Wars glory.
The film kicks off with Ronan's Melanie being captured and handed over to a 1,000 year old soul. She remains committed to reuniting with her uncle (William Hurt, her lover (Max Irons) and her little brother (Chandler Canterbury). A more dangerous soul (Diane Kruger) is chasing her, convinced that Melanie will lead her to the remaining humans while the soul that has possessed her has, inexplicably, fallen for yet a different guy (Jake Abel).
Got all that?
Do you even want all that?
While the novel upon which the film is based, so I've been told, is very much about passion it's almost disconcerting how lacking the passion is in this film. Niccol has always directed with a more contemplative approach, but if you weave that approach into the Stephenie Meyers fueled chaste blandness you have the makes of a film that feels far more methodical than it really should.
The Host is often a beautiful film to look at and, quite admirably, both Ronan and William Hurt do the best they can with the material but there's only so much that can be done with it. When it comes down to it, The Host simply isn't very hospitable and the film simply isn't that interesting.