Megan Appleyard reviews The Host which comes from the pen of Stephenie Meyer, author of The Twilight Saga
It’s almost inevitable that people are going to shun a new film based on a book written by the same author of the massively successful Twilight Saga (Stephenie Meyer) but director Andrew Niccol (Gattaca) is persistent in his quest to prove that The Host is arguably not just another love story but is in fact a scientific tale about an alien race and their conquest to overtake Earth. As far as sci-fi thrillers go, The Host does manage to tick some boxes. Suspense: check. Intrigue: check. Realistic special effects: Yeah they were okay. Some good action scenes: they could have been better. Futuristic props and settings: nicely done. Yet, despite this, The Host still somehow manages to reach out mainly to teenage girls in a slightly clichéd tale of courage, love, loss and despair, following human Host Melanie (Saorise Ronan) who is unlike other Hosts and is reluctant to allow her mind and body to be taken over by alien Soul Wanda. Both Melanie (a voice-over character stuck inside a body beyond her control) and Wanda work together to return Melanie to her true love Jared (Max Irons), little brother Jamie (Chandler Canterbury) and Uncle Jeb (William Hurt) – some of few human survivors taking refuge in the deserts. When Melanie returns with silver eyes (a sign she has been taken over by a Soul), it is Wanda’s job to convince the family that Melanie is still alive in her body and refuses to let go.
Whilst fighting for Jared and fighting for refuge from alien Seeker (Diane Kruger), Wanda begins to develop feelings for the friendly and more open-minded Ian (Jake Abel). Although less pathetically handled than in The Twilight Saga, this love triangle is guaranteed to get sceptical viewers rolling their eyes. However, romantics and readers of the book will welcome Ronan’s gutsy performance with open arms. It is arguable that it is she who carries the film to the end and makes it all the more watchable. The Host is slow-moving in parts but secures some comedic moments, breath-taking suspense and projects an endless raw emotion and power – Ronan and Hurt work well with Niccol’s clever script to maintain this. The Host had every potential to get sci-fi fans foaming at the mouth if only there’d been more attention focused on who the alien Souls were, or how they came to Earth, or what they plan on doing next, and less attention focused on how Melanie and Wanda were to ‘fight’ for their ‘true loves’. Meyer’s source material is the only thing to blame for this. Niccol and his fizzy cast ensemble were terrific in the way that they worked with what they had to create a film that no, doesn’t work for everyone but does put a new twist on the love triangle and tale-of-heroism type movie that seems to be so popular these days.
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