Movie review: The Host (2013)

So… today I watched a certain film based on a novel by Stephenie Meyer. Before I go any further I have to say this: I hate Twilight.

I read all the books, and I watched all the movies, and… they just didn’t do it for me. The plots were at times nonexistent, and at other times godawful, the protagonist is utterly unlikeable and useless, and the romance is completely unrealistic and downright scary.

But I didn’t start this review to complain about Twilight. I want to talk about The Host.

To be honest, I was sort of pleasantly surprised with this film.

Okay, okay, put the pitchforks away, I never said it was good. Just keep reading and I’ll tell you why I see this film the way I do.

First, let’s talk about the casting:

The casting in this film is excellent. Saoirse Ronan stars as the protagonist, Melanie Stryder (I know), and her performance was probably the best part about this movie. I’ve been a fan of Saoirse since The Lovely Bones. And I’ve never been unimpressed with any of her performances since. And she can hold her own playing against Diane Kruger.

Diane Kruger serves as the main antagonist of the film. She also gives an excellent performance. She’s never too over the top, and she comes across as a complex character. So, to me, it was a little bit of a disappointment that her talent was underutilized.

As for the love interests, (yes another love triangle) there’s Max Irons, an incredibly boring addition to the movie, you could replace him with a cardboard cut-out and he’d probably be more interesting. There’s also Jake Abel, who isn’t bad, but his motivation changes wildly in only one scene, with barely any buildup and maybe two interactions with the protagonist(s).

As for the rest of the cast, some of them are good, but most of them are so underdeveloped that they’re barely even there.

This brings us to the plot:

Melanie Stryder is a human living among others like her in a secret colony. One day she ventures out of the colony… for some reason that’s either not explained or I just flat out missed, and she’s caught by people  led by a woman called “The seeker”. They quickly equip her with a “Soul” an alien from another planet who relies on a host to coexist with humans. These “souls” have taken over a majority of the people on earth. Melanie discovers that she has a sort of co-consciousness with her “soul” (called wanderer) who can hear her thoughts. She returns to the colony and has to evade capture. Oh, and there’s a love triangle in there too.

I don’t know about you, but to me that plot has major potential. The whole idea of duality has been explored by many, many films, many of those films are good, even great. And this could have been one of those films. Instead, we’re “treated” to a ridiculous love triangle, which dominates most of the film. The ideas of duality, and the concept of these aliens having a symbiotic relationships with humans is barely explored. This is a film begging to be good, it races to the line that separates mediocre from decent, and chokes on its leash.

Having said that, I still kind of enjoyed it. There  were a lot of good things about this film: the acting, the direction, and the cinematography are all good. The sets are excellent, except for the colony, which is laughably bad, and I liked the ending. To be honest, this film should have been a hit, it is at least ten times better than Twilight even hoped to be. So why did it fail? That question is answered by seven words; “Based on a novel by Stephenie Meyer”.

 

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