To be honest, when I realized I would be reviewing the movie The Host this time around, I wasn’t too excited. There was mixed reviews, with most critics absolutely hating it but students split fifty-fifty. Remaining unbiased and keeping an open mind proved to be challenge, especially with my extreme hatred another Stephanie Meyer abomination: the dreadful Twilight Saga. But that’s another story for another time. As you can probably tell by now, I’m not a typical teenager. I tend to see straight through the ridiculous pop culture geared towards teens that brainwashes my generation into thinking that sparkling, pedophilic, stalking vampires are somehow not only acceptable, but romantic as well. But I’m getting carried away here. Fair warning to fans of this book/movie: I’m about to slam it. Don’t kill me please.
The Cliffnotes version of the main conflict of The Host is basically this: A seemingly peaceful parasitic alien race called “The Souls” has come to Earth in the shape of strange, silvery, transparent, floating roaches, invading bodies and taking over the world. Our main character, Melanie Stryder, one of the few humans left who have not been invaded, is on the run. But alas, she gets caught and somehow survives a running leap out of a window to six stories below, with the idea behind that bright move being that death was better than a life as a Host. However, the aliens move her still alive body and transplant one of the aforementioned roach things into her neck. Naturally, Melanie is “special” so instead of being taken over completely by the parasite as others have, she has two minds in one body. One detail that particularly irked me was that the parasite sharing her body was called Wanderer, but they shortened it to Wanda. Yep, you heard me right. Wanda. Anyways, Melanie convinces Wanda to rebel and leave the alien compound to escape to her Uncle Jeb’s secret underground human society called the Resistance that so happens to contain Melanie’s brother, Jaime, and boyfriend, Jared. I’ll stop the plot right there so I don’t give too much away for those who want to see it.
The romance in this movie was pitiful and quite frankly, weird. Jared and Ian, the two main love interests, both had serious faults. Jared, upon meeting Melanie for the first time, promptly makes out with her just because she is human. Sexual assault, anyone? Add that to the fact that Jared looks about ten years older than Melanie (no really, the actors actually are 9 years apart), it’s just strange. About fifteen minutes into the movie, Melanie and Jared even have a bizarre sex talk about procreation, proclaiming that they “don’t have to be the last ones”. Um, awkward. And of course, you can’t have a typical romantic scene without a perfectly choreographed swing dance to a radio in the abandoned wilderness and some pouring rain with smashing faces. The most shocking aspect of Jared was that upon seeing Melanie as alien (you can tell by their creepy ice blue eyes) he hits her and she falls to the ground. Nice, so Jared can check off domestic violence right next to his sexual assault and pedophilia. Classy. Ian wasn’t much better. Actually, for the whole entire duration of the film, I didn’t even know Ian was this guy’s name; they never really mentioned it. Instead, I referred to him as “The Strangler” because he did just that – strangled Melanie/Wanda in an attempt to kill her. See a pattern here? It kind of bothered me that both of these (hot) guys didn’t even care that they were practically making out with two people at once, or that they both kissed the same body within five minutes of each other. Speaking of awkward smooches, I counted thirteen make out scenes. Was that really necessary? When Sophomore Olivia Ciepierski was asked if she had any comments about the movie, she agreed with me, saying that there was too much kissing and that it was weird. Lack of character development was a huge issue that led to romantic advances feeling to fast and too forced, leaving the audience confused and conflicted.
Acting was a hit or miss. Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, who plays Melanie/Wanda, was a bit of a let down for me. When portraying Melanie’s inner voice talking to Wanda inside her head, Ronan was way too overdramatic, and at times, laughable. In my opinion, she was way better playing the role of timid Wanda than the brave, brash Melanie. Max Irons, who plays Jared, was cringe-worthy. Yes, he’s quite attractive, but a couple of pretty faces does not equal a good movie. In fact, in the middle of scenes between the pair that were supposed to be intimate and heartfelt, this elderly couple sitting in front of me in the theater would bust out laughing. The corny lines certainly didn’t help. Jake Abel (Ian) was a tad bit better and a lot more believable. Actually, I was most surprised by Chandler Canterbury, who played Melanie’s little brother, Jaime. Being only fourteen years old, I found his performance quite impressive. During one touching scene with his sister-turned-alien, I totally believed in what he was trying to sell and the one lone tear that rolled down his face at the right emotional moment sealed the deal. Diane Kruger (The Seeker) and William Hurt (Jeb) were both just okay; they were nothing special.
In terms of production value, this is where the movie shines through in some aspects. The score was very well done and reflected and enhanced the scenes and instances the characters were in. Lighting was efficient and effective, even underground. The camerawork was basic but necessarily so: the attention needs to be on the story, not flashy details. However, whoever did the editing for the car chase scene was horrible. There were way too many close-ups, making it seem like the actors were just in a fake car with a green screen behind them. It felt artificial and really took away from the believability of the film. I thought the props and costumes were way too cliché. Of course, the aliens just had to have shiny, reflective sports cars and helicopters, and wore all white all time. One tiny detail I noticed was that all the aliens wore nondescript white clothing, had white furniture, even had generic white desktops, but typed on Apple keyboards. I don’t know if that was a paid-for product placement or just a slip up, but I found it pretty amusing. So the planet is taken over by an alien race, yet Apple thrives off of it? Ha.
As always, there are going to be tiny little things that bother me in movies. In this case, I have plenty to complain about. One detail that bothered me was the fact that all during her escape to her trek across the desert to finally meeting the Resistance, Melanie/Wanda never took off her darn heels. I don’t know about you, but walking miles upon miles in those things definitely should have made her feet bleed until she couldn’t walk anymore. Second, I couldn’t ignore that the actor who plays Doc (Scott Lawrence) looks exactly like Obama. It was just peculiar, to say the least. And when things finally start to heat up and reach a crescendo, Uncle Jeb simply comes out of nowhere and shoots the antagonist. It felt like a shortcut. I had a problem with the ending as well. Apparently, the whole time that the humans had been trying to rid people of the foreign parasite, they were doing it wrong. Wanda explains that you have to coax it out with love and kindness. Gag. I recorded some other dialogue that was incredibly cheesy:
And my personal favorite,
Spoiler Alert: Wanda doesn’t even die, which brings up another point. I have a grudge against authors who don’t have the guts to kill off a main character. Here was a classic example of everyone who gets their own way for a happy ending, even the villain. However, Sophomore Lauren McDowall liked the ending, saying it was her favorite part. For me, it was too perfect.
In all, I would not recommend this movie to a friend. Sophomore Taylor Lewis says the story was “too hard to follow” and I have to agree. Its plot, while intriguing at first, proves unsubstantial and the acting was lackluster. If you’re a fan of the book, go see the movie. But if you’re not, pass this one up. The Iron Man 3 trailer sure looked good…
Final Verdict: 2 stars