The Host Feeds on Two Hours of Your Time
- Friday, March 29, 2013
DVD Release Date: July 9, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: March 29, 2013
Rating: PG-13 for some sensuality and violence
Run Time: 121 min.
Director: Andrew Niccol
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, Jake Abel, Chandler Canterbury, Diane Kruger, William Hurt, Frances Fisher, Boyd Holbrook
If The Host, the new sci-fi/romance film based on a book by Twilight author Stephanie Meyer, is representative of the current state of sci-fi or romance, both genres are in big trouble. As a film, The Host is hamstrung by a script with tin-eared dialogue, awful line readings and so-so (at best) special effects. Worst of all, the film’s sodden pacing gives viewers plenty of time to think about similar - albeit far superior - films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers (creepy and effective) and The Hidden (fun and propulsive).
Here, the human race is on the ropes, and its remaining survivors aren’t putting up much of a fight against their alien interlopers. The otherwordly beings, which resemble a cluster of wispy, glowing strands of white hair, take over human bodies and enlist them as carriers.
It’s the eyes that give the aliens away: the irises of host bodies glow green. It’s those whose eyes don’t take on that hue who are suspect, since they’re part of the diminishing human resistance to the alien takeover, and they need to be snuffed out.
Melanie (Saoirse Ronan, The Lovely Bones) is one of the few human souls who can resist the symbiotic organisms. She’s made an uneasy peace with her alien inhabitant, who goes by the name Wanderer. They represent two lives, and two minds, in one human body, and the way the film treats this is the source of much painful laughter. Scene after scene depicts Melanie staring past the camera as we hear the internal dialogue between her human self and Wanderer.
The story follows Melanie’s efforts to reunite with the human resistance, which includes her younger brother (Chandler Canterbury, Little Red Wagon), her boyfriend (Max Irons, Red Riding Hood) and her uncle (William Hurt, The Village), while trying to shake a suspicious alien overseer (Diane Kruger, National Treasure: Book of Secrets) waiting for Melanie to spill the beans about the location of the resisters. Once she does, the aliens will make short work of the human "rebels" and take another step toward world domination.
Although the film is ostensibly about the extinction of the human race, the story's big payoff scenes have more to do with when and how many times the attractive young leads will kiss each other. Those of us who aren't part of the film's target demo (teenage girls; cf. Meyer's Twilight) have to concentrate on other elements of the film— its beautiful Southwestern locations and a supporting performance by Hurt that’s so grounded and effortless it seems to have come from a different movie—to gain any fleeting pleasure from The Host.
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