One of the first thoughts I had when I started watching The Host was “Another movie with contact lenses!”. And then when the end credits came out, I understood the reason why: Stephenie Meyer. If any writer has tried to capitalise on the J.K. Rowling phenomenon, it’s her. But there’s a difference. Rowling is a good storyteller. Meyer is not.
Her stories revolve around love, but it’s a love that doesn’t take place in our world. It’s a love that retreats to the fabled romance of the old Disney movies, but with vampires, werewolves, and now aliens, instead of damsels in distress and cute woodland creatures. The love Meyer presents to us cannot be believed, nor does it make us want to believe. And because of this, her stories cannot rise above what they should be.
The Host deals with an alien invasion, but unlike all the invasions we are used to, this one takes place peacefully, or quasi-peacefully. The aliens, known only as Souls, hop around from planet to planet and inhabit the bodies of the planet’s residents in an attempt to perfect the nature of their worlds. Now they’ve come to Earth, and apart from a band of resistant rebels, they’ve made Earth into a peaceful, harmonious, money-free utopia. Oh, what bliss!
But the aliens are not satisfied. They want to colonise the entire planet. Everyone! They capture the body of a fighting rebel, Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan)–who jumped through a window to kill herself (because all the humans would rather die than submit to the foreigners, as we will later find out)–and insert the Soul, Wanderer, into her via an incision to her neck. What puzzles me is that if this alien race has been colonising planets for centuries, why haven’t they developed a cleaner and more sophisticated way of inhabiting bodies?
Oh well, that’s not important. Wanderer wakes up the next morning to discover that Melanie is still alive within her, somewhere in her subconscious. They can talk to each other, even though they do so in the most humorous fashion. I have to say that their conversations cannot be taken seriously. Anyway, Melanie leads Wanderer to the rebel stronghold, where her uncle, Jeb (William Hurt), lives with the rest of the survivors, among whom we can safely assume is Melanie’s kid brother, and her love interest, Jared (Max Irons).
But that’s not all this stronghold gives us, oh no. As luck would have it, there are at least two other sexually charged males, of roughly the same age, who are eager for some female lovin’. What are the chances? This sets the stage for a wonderful love triangle that, if you’ve never seen the movie’s poster, you’d never know was coming. There is not a single woman below the age of fifty who has survived the invasion.
Melanie/Wanderer is pursued by a Seeker (Diane Kruger), who wants to use Melanie’s thoughts and memories as a GPS to locate the rebels’ hideout. But she has an ulterior motive for wanting Wanderer close by that I will not divulge.
This movie fails on many levels. Its story is heavily underdeveloped, with numerous plot holes. Even though the aliens live within the humans, how do they know how to speak with human slang and human emotion? How are they able to feel human love and human sexual desires? How do they know how to drive sports cars? Why are all their sports cars, and all their vehicles, chrome silver? Why are they all dressed in white? How are they perfecting the Earth? By sitting at their empty desks, staring at computer screens? What happens when their job is done and they leave the humans? Will the Earth be filled with billions of corpses, all rotting in the heat of the sun?
Andrew Niccol, the director, is not bothered about these questions, and he has no reason to be. He just wants to make a decent movie. Of course, he fails, but his attempt is admirable. There are a few scenic shots, and some of the underground sets have an almost organic touch about them, even though they all look the same. It’s the source material that’s the weakest here; Meyer’s failure–once again–to come up with a coherent story. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to write romance, but at least make it good. The Host has too many cliches and too many cheesy lines. It doesn’t have a predictable ending, but the ending it gives us is far from original. There is nothing of value in what it offers; I’m not even sure why it exists.
Here’s a thought: I am assuming the invasion of Earth would have taken many years, if not decades, to reach the point at which the movie begins. Imagine how easy the rebels’ jobs would have been if they had created contact lenses that matched the eyes of the Souls.
Best Moment | Wanderer asks to borrow a fellow Soul’s car, and he happily obliges. He even tells her the tank is full after she’s pulled away. What a darling man.
Worst Moment | I can’t remember what scene it was exactly, but I know I went “Oh for god’s sake!” at one point.