Saoirse Ronan as Wanda (and Melanie). Click on the 'Play' button above to watch the trailer for The Host.
March 28, 2013
(Republished July 22, 2013)
Of the three handsome, indistinguishable bachelors in The Host, two viciously strike our heroine, while the other settles on strangulation. That she is merely an alien inhabiting a human body doesn’t make the acts – or their frequency – any less jarring to a reasonable viewer. Several “make-out” sequences are soundtracked with the human hostage narrating her displeasure over what she’s being subjected to. In a rare moment of passion received without objection, she tells her lover to “kiss me like you want to get slapped.” Yes, Stephanie Meyer is back on the big screen! The author of The Twilight Saga followed up her vampire love story with this sci-fi “romance” novel in 2008, and it’s been adapted into a feature by writer-director Andrew Niccol. As it stands, Meyer is yet to pen the sequels. Let’s hope it stays that way.
Saoirse Ronan stars as Wanda, the squid-like space invader who inhabits the corporeal form of regular person Melanie Stryder. The majority of the human race has been replaced by these parasites in this not-too-distant future. The twist? Those extra-terrestrials are taking better care of our bodies and our planet than we ever did! They reject violence of every kind, have called off all wars, and ended poverty. From what I could tell, they’ve also stopped having sex (there’s always a catch). Melanie, one of the key figures in the rebellion, reveals to Wanda the joys of being a dirty, imperfect human by whispering into her mind, and convinces her to flee society and head for the resistance’s headquarters. There, she must convince Mel’s uncle (William Hurt), auntie (Frances Fisher), brother (Chandler Canterbury), and a gaggle of potential suitors that aliens are people too, kinda.
Max Irons and Saoirse Ronan.
Niccol, sadly, does not capitalise on the wacky, All of Me-esque opportunities inherent in this premise. Instead, he gives us a dour old thing that, much in the same way its hero only looks human, just barely resembles a movie. We spend most of our time in a cave - which should appeal to all the tweenage spelunkers out there - with virtually no sense of time and never any idea where we might be in the story, and thus, no forward momentum. The shapeless script features hefty heapings of exposition, yet it left me with more frustrating questions than answers. On the heels of his half-baked, incomprehensible In Time, Niccol is proving himself to be the number one purveyor of cinematic gobbledygook.
Meyer surely deserves much of the blame too. However, I’ve spent the past five years detailing the bizarre sexual proclivities displayed in The Twilight Saga. Having already noted their repellent recurrences here in the first paragraph, I’d prefer to just stop talking about her work in general. Poor Saoirse Ronan; not only doomed to recite this flat narration, but also to carry out dull conversations with herself on screen. At least she’s proven her talents elsewhere. Same goes for Diane Kruger as the villainess. Clunky, dramatically inert, ideologically repugnant, and just a plain old bore, The Host may be the worst thing anyone involved has ever been affiliated with. In some instances, that may also prove true for the audience.
The Host will be available on Quickflix from July 25, 2013.