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Film Review: The Host

The Host

Written and directed by Andrew Niccol
Director of Photography by Roberto Schaefer
Running time: 2 hours 25 minutes.
Rated PG-13
Principle Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Jake Abel, Max Irons, Frances Fisher, Chandler Canterbury, Diane Kruger, Boyd Holbrook and William Hurt.

The Host will make audiences long for Twilight’s deep emotion and believability….no really

Photo 1To say Stephanie Meyer writes for a certain audience isn’t a stretch of the imagination. The author who made it large with the Twlight Series may not captive the attention of the almighty Male who is 18 – 35 year olds, but she certainly has their counterparts covered. In her newest story The Host, Meyer has conceived a story around similar themes and with similar characters, only this time we have aliens, instead of animals – and that pretty much covers it.

We open on The Host by traveling through space where the majority of the human race has been taken over by parasites from an advanced World. These creatures (closely resembling sea amenities)  have traveled through time to successfully take over various planets and societies and are now doing the same with Earth. Melanie Stryder is one of the last humans left to be taken alive and come hell or high water, she’s bound to keep it that way. But when eventually captured and given her organism,  Stryder’s alter-ego host, Wanderer, begins to hear her body’s original voice in her head via voice-over – representing her original human thoughts and wishes only to be trapped in a body led by Wanderer.  Persuading Wanderer that her Alien society is immoral, Melanie leads our two heroes out to the City Centre and into the desert with hopes of finding help in any other humans that may be on the outskirts of the society – the search indeed procures the Resistance’s headquarters containing human survivors and possibly Stryder’s lost family members – Uncle, brother Jamie and boyfriend Jared, deep within the seclusion of cave formations. While Wanderer and Melanie have stumbled upon human life, The Seeker, a hell-bent-for-election female officer within the Alien society who’s charge it is to ensure that all remaining humans are captured and transitioned, has also been on a hunt – for the escaped Wanderer. Not only does The Seeker take a personal charge in bringing in Wanderer personally, but any survivors who could be the last individuals still keeping the human race in existence.

The issue with Andrew Niccol’s latest film is a bait and switch. The trailer, marketing and talk have set the film up to be one thing and then the product is completely different. in reality, viewers will get ridiculous plot points, unbelievable romantic story lines and pacing that can seem cruel.  It can be argued that while there are a lot of moments in The Host where visual effects, cinematography and some of the set pieces do work with most of the aesthetic of the film, it just isn’t consistent and creates issues in the World which make everything else seem so utterly ridiculous and contrived that the audience just can’t take it seriously – Case in point is the entire premise of the film where humans would rather choose to dwindle their culture to oblivion than to be taken and given great health, harmonious society and a clean environment – huh?!?!

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The Host further treats its audience to an additional 120 min of stagnant plot points and set pieces which are centralized within a cave that 90% of the characters never leave, forcing the film to give false energy and focus to wonderful and thought-provoking ideas like (you knew it was coming from the author of Twilight ) an all-too-predictable love triangle between two of the story’s centralized males and its girl-stuck-within-another-girl’s-head; essentially, the preverbal inner-voice of every teenage girl who doesn’t know how to read her emotions.

Production wise, the central premise of The Host is exploited and conceptually pulled for all its worth. Visual metaphors and attempts at deeper thoughts which involve idea on consumerism don’t necessarily miss the mark but hit the nail on the head too hard.  Additionally, this reviewer just feels for every actor in this film. Saoirse Ronan has already proven her worth in previous vehicles, William Hurt is a name in himself and Diane Kruger seems to play her driven, angry and contempt character with nice vigor as she may not be so upset with the Wonderer character as she might be with her management team.

Overall, The Host didn’t prove to be a jump ahead but two steps back for Meyer.  The storyline and many of the conventions used are not fully realized and thrown away far too easily. Directionally, Nicool proves that track records aren’t a for sure thing, but the standing bright light in this feature is Saoirse Ronan who, at just 19 years old, has plenty of time to get far away from this property as long as she’s lucky enough that Meyer won’t write anymore words under this property – in fact, we should all be so lucky.

Fresh Roasted Review: D

~ Matt Miles, 24/7 Contributor
Producer of Fresh Roasted Films 

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