“The Host” — seekers, wanderers, and a love triangle only Stephanie Meyer could write.
This movie is about a future earth where humans have been taken over by aliens…literally.
Tiny, amoeba-like extraterrestrials inhabit the brains of their human hosts and completely control their every action.
The aliens, called Souls, have made the earth a peaceful place — all laws are followed, everything is free, and no one lies — but for the surviving humans, every day is a nightmare.
One of these surviving humans, Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan, “The Lovely Bones”), is traveling to meet her uncle in the desert when she is captured and given over to an alien Soul.
This Soul, named Wanderer, is charged with finding Melanie’s memories so the other humans can be captured…but Melanie is still alive in her own head even if Wanderer is in control of her body.
Melanie and Wanderer engage in a battle of wills that ultimately leads Wanderer to escape from the Soul headquarters in search of Melanie’s family.
When she finally finds them, she is greeted with suspicion and outright hostility.
While she does eventually win over a few of the men, this takes most of the movie to accomplish.
Even though this is an alien invasion movie, the action scenes are few and far between, leaving most of the conflict squarely on Ronan’s tough dual role of Melanie/Wanderer.
Author Stephanie Meyer distinguishes herself as the creator of unconventional love triangles as Wanderer begins falling for Ian O’Shea even as Melanie fights to return to boyfriend Jared Howe — thus leading to more “internal” clashes between Melanie and Wanderer.
Though given a difficult part to play, Ronan handles it masterfully. While Melanie is primarily heard through voice-overs and seen through flashbacks, we’re never left wondering who’s who.
Despite being played opposite of Ronan, Mark Irons (“Red Riding Hood”) falls flat as Jared Howe —coming across as irrationally grumpy for most of the film.
Little Chandler Canterbury (“Knowing”) is adorably believable as Melanie’s little brother Jamie. Wanderer’s love interest Ian is played by the handsome Jake Abel (“I Am Number Four”) and has the greatest character arc of anyone else in the film save Melanie and Wanderer.
If you enjoyed the clear (some might say obvious) dialogue and complicated character relations of Meyer’s “Twilight Saga,” you’ll enjoy “The Host.”
Otherwise, skip it and save your money.
The fact that Melanie is only “on screen” via thoughts from Wanderer’s head translates into some silly close-ups of Wanderer’s forehead as if to remind us that it isn’t Wanderer speaking.
Trying to look futuristic just means lots of too-shiny cars and motorcycles with the only other advancement being (still shiny) medical sprays.
The few actions scenes seem squeezed in as an awkward afterthought between dramatic pieces of dialogue, but at least the ending isn’t too predictable if you haven’t read the book.