The Host Movie Review
Uh-oh, it's a love triangle! Or is it a love square? Either way, Stephenie Meyer's post-Twilight novel is now a major motion picture, and it is pretty much exactly what you'd expect it to be. The Host presents an intriguing premise and better overall production values than Meyer's much maligned blockbuster franchise, but suffers from the same aimless and anticlimactic storytelling - and pathetically dopey romances.
In fairness, The Host serves as set up for what could be one of the greatest porn movies of all time.
In The Host, Earth has been taken over by a bunch of sparkling white jellyfish who have inserted their own consciousnesses into nearly every human body on the planet. Melanie (Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan) has just been taken over by an entity called Wanderer, but unlike most, her consciousness remains. She slowly bonds with Wanderer and convinces her to flee to where the last remnants of humankind exist.
It is a cool concept, but The Host is unable to live up to its potential.
Ronan does a decent job with the material, especially since she is given the awkward task of having inner monologue (well, actually "inner dialogue") with herself. Her voiceovers work most but not all of the time; this all presumably works a lot better in the book than it does on film. But the problem isn't with her.
After the first act, where Melanie and Wanderer work out their issues, escape from The Seeker (Diane Kruger) and meet up with Melanie's peeps, The Host screeches to a halt. It's here that Meyer's cleverness ends and her ability to drag on a story without plot or purpose shows its true colors. The rest of the movie primarily entails Melanie getting angry at Wanderer for making out with her boyfriend Jared (Max Irons) and Melanie getting angry at Wanderer for, out of nowhere, falling in love with Ian (Jake Abel), which is made all the weirder by the fact that Melanie and Wanderer are the same person. In essence, all parties involved are in a no-win situation.
In one scene, Wanderer tries to evoke a reaction out of Melanie by first making out with one guy and then immediately the other, but instead of the film devolving into the greatest porn ever made (it's not slutty if you are two different people, right? And one is an alien?), the audience just bursts out laughing. Because...
The love triangle/square. Just. Does. Not. Work.
The romances are sappy, rushed and shallow. Neither relationship is developed to a believable extent, and instead of evoking emotion, every scene with one of the guys evokes laughter instead.
Furthermore, not unlike in the Twiight books/movies, The Host lacks a legitimate climax. The film just meanders to a conclusion that is about as thrilling as watching bread in a toaster, surprising in one sense but given the author not surprising at all. To make matters worse, Meyer ruins what could have been at least an emotionally satisfying ending, opting for a happy one that is both absurd and unnecessary.
It's all really a shame, because writer/director Andrew Niccol (Gattaca) does a fine job at the helm. The movie looks beautiful with a crisp, colorful palette, and he does his best with the material handed to him. The Host looks and feels more professional than any of the Twilight movies, not that that's saying much.
Still, in the end, The Host is a movie based on a Stephenie Meyer book, and the author has yet to prove that she can write a compelling, engaging story. The Host fails as a result.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.