The Host (Andrew Niccol) 2013


Production Budget: $40 million
Worldwide Gross: $48 million

The Host is about an alien species that comes to Earth and takes over humans like pod people. Melanie (Saoirse Ronan) nearly dies during the bonding so there is a complication. The alien Wanda, still has control, but Melanie is able to talk to her. Wanda/Melanie make their way to the resistance where a love triangle develops between her Melanie’s lover and a new man.

Now, it is no secret that I am not a fan of the Twilight series. Like many critics, I’m sure I could write a book on just about everything that I plain don’t like about the books/movies. But make no mistake, this is not about me being a guy and not being part of the target demographic. True I am not a teenage girl or a middle aged housewife, but I can certainly understand romance and escapism. At the end of the day, when you cut through all the bullshit, I just plain don’t like any of the characters. At best they are merely hollow shells by which the unimaginative audience can project themselves in and at worst Bella is a despicable excuse for a human and the two male leads not much better.

So why watch The Host? Well, because it bombed. And I don’t know what it says about my taste that of all the Stephanie Meyer films I have seen this is the best. Now, that still doesn’t make The Host a good movie, it just means it rises to the level of merely bad. Compared to Twilight, the protagonist of Wanda/Melanie is far more compelling and there is a reason for the love triangle. Two people are sharing a body and each has fallen in love with another person. Oh it’s silly and having Saoirse Ronan doing internal commentary of how icky it is she is kissing another man can be quite comical. However the issue is one of a real conflict and not because our protagonist is a selfish manipulator.

Also, unlike Twilight, there is a clear conflict going on. In The Host, aliens are hunting down Wanda and the remaining humans to completely conquer the world. In each of the Twilight movies, the conflicts seem to be of the pulled out their ass variety. I have seen every Twilight movie, and I honestly cannot tell you why for example, why vampires wanted to fight the Cullens in the first one. Now again, that doesn’t make The Host’s plot any good. Most of the time the humans aren’t really fighting the aliens as much as they are milling about their secret base doing nothing. This movie is dull more than anything else. Not much happens in the conflict between humans and aliens and not all that much is done with the love triangle.

It is kind of pointless to talk about the direction. As evidenced by the Twilight movies, it doesn’t matter how good a director you have attached to the project, they still have to work with the material of Stephanie Meyer. I love Andrew Niccol’s Gattaca and Lord of War. And while he adds an interesting visual flair to the movie, he can’t do anything to make the script any more interesting.

Maybe I caught this in a good mood, but I didn’t hate The Host. It is mostly dull and at times the premise and the hamfisted dialog can lead to very hammy exchanges with the actors. But I can at least appreciate that the fact I didn’t want to murder the main characters. Would I recommend it? Oh hell no. I’m just saying I can admit this is not the worst thing ever.

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