Director: Andrew Niccol
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Diane Kruger, Max Irons, Jake Abel, William Hurt, Francis Farmer
Written by: Andrew Niccol and (novel) Stephenie Myers
Running Time: 125 mins
Release date: 29th March 2013
As you might already know, i was never a big fan of the Twilight saga. To be honest, it wasn’t aimed at a middle aged man. So entering The Host was like entering the Twilight world all over. Surprisingly, the sci-fi fans seemed to be out in force and so I thought I’d be in safe hands. It was also directed by Andrew Niccol, whose last film was the surprisingly interesting science fiction thriller, In Time. Sadly, what lightning doesn’t always strike twice and when Niccol scored big with his previous movie, he misses massively with this.
The human race has been taken over by aliens, inserted into the back of the neck, the life form removes the memory and the body becomes a mindless zombie, all apologetic and polite. Melanie, trying to protect her younger brother and other humans who have escaped capture, sacrifices herself and becomes the next victim of the alien race. Using her memory against her, Melanie, now called Wanderer, is willing to share all the memories that Melanie has but her former self is much stronger than most and a constant battle begins between the human and the alien. Determined to stop Wanderer, Melanie escapes the confines of the other aliens and makes her way to the desert where she knows her Uncle Jeb is held up, hoping he can help remove the creature inside her. Once there, Melanie and Wanderer, now called Wanda, find another battle between the humans who don’t trust her and the two men who fall for her, Jared, Melanie’s former lover and Ian, the man Wanda falls for.
The plot, in the hands of an experienced sci-fi writer, could have been fascinating. The strength of memory over an alien adversity could have been exciting and psychologically deep. This is Stephenie Myers, so we get a girl having conversations with herself while struggling with being in love with two men. It’s Twilight all over again but even I have to say, Twilight was far more interesting. Niccol has managed to make the dullest sci-fi in ages. Some might say he’s not to blame but he is. he also wrote the screenplay. Where In Time was tense, interesting and sometimes nail-biting, this lacks any form of tension, doesn’t have anything of interest and most of the time unintentionally funny. Especially the romantic moments, where the dialogue is so bad, you find yourself not going “awwww” but giggling uncontrollably.
The characters are also so one-dimensional that you care very little for them. Saoirse Ronan is a very good actress. She has proved herself in such films as Atonement and Hanna. Here she tries her best as Melanie/Wanda but she is let down by the script and the scenes where she’s fighting with herself are sometimes cringe-worthy. The lead males, Max Irons and Jake Abel seem devoid of personalities. Irons is mean and moody while Abel is sweet and understanding but that’s the limit of what they are allowed to develop. Diane Kruger, dressed in white as the alien after Melanie, doesn’t get to do much either so it is left to William Hurt as reliable Jeb to inject any sense of character and interest.
Even the minor chase sequence in the middle of the film fails to inject any excitement and so we spend most of the film inside a mountain, looking at corn. What is so annoying is that you can see the potential there but it’s like both Myers and Niccol have missed these and given us a laughable, tedious film that will have the Twilight fans running for the exits, never wanting to watch anything like this again. Word of advice, watch Don Siegel’s excellent Invasion of the Body Snatchers and see how to make an exciting alien body take-over film. Avoid this.