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HOST, THE (2013)

When an unseen enemy threatens mankind by taking over their bodies and erasing their memories, Melanie (Saorsie Ronan) will risk everything to protect the people she cares most about, proving that love can conquer all in a dangerous new world.

Review by Louise Keller:
If you thought a love triangle involving a vampire and werewolf was impossible, wait until you see Stephenie Meyer's tale about an alien host in a human body and the complications that arise when there are two men involved. The film is at its most ridiculous when Saoirse Ronan is kissed by Max Irons (Jeremy's son) and Jake Abel in quick succession in a bid to identify who they are kissing: the girl or the alien who has taken over her body.

It is a credit to Ronan that we feel anything for the two characters she plays - Melanie, who is determined to protect the human race and Wanda, the alien who becomes influenced by her strong-willed vessel. Unlike Twilight, in which the charisma of the vampire and werewolf come into play, here there is little opportunity for Irons and Abel to bring any meaningful personality into the mix. As a result, despite fair direction by Andrew Niccol, who adapted the novel into a screenplay, The Host is extremely ho-hum, struggling to keep its credibility at every turn.

As the film begins, we are told that the world is now a perfect place, filled with harmony - due to the fact that aliens have obliterated the human race and are using human bodies as hosts. The tell-tale factors are the luminous eyes. When Melanie (Ronan) is captured and the anemone-like alien inserted through a slit in the back of her neck, voice-over is used to alert us that she is still an active force. We are tugged in two directions as we listen to the bewildering conversation between Melanie's voice-over, representing her thoughts and wishes and Wanderer (as the alien is known), who speaks in stilted fashion.

As Wanderer (called Wanda by her resistance family) wanders through the desert in search of her boyfriend Jared (Irons), uncle (William Hurt) and young brother Jamie (Chandler Canterbury) hotly pursued by Diane Kruger, clad in white and obsessed by her capture. The second part of the film deals with the inner conflict between Melanie and Wanda and the absurdities that arise with the love triangle. Melanie and Jared love each other and Wanda and Ian love each other, but there's a problem: Melanie and Wanda are in the same body.

The conceit of Stephenie Meyer's premise is milked for all its worth with striking production design featuring white, silver and stark desert locations. The music is formulaic and syrupy. There are a few laughs - mostly at the ridiculous nature of things, and at 125 minutes, the film is interminably long.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Hello there, all 15 and 16 year old girls, this one's for you, although you'll have to endure quite a bit of sci-fi hokum packed around the few delicious moments of two girls inside one body kissing two boys who have a crush with one or other of them. You will also have to put up with a couple of oldies, one in the form of bearded grandpa figure Jeb (William Hurt) the other in the sour old Maggie (Frances Fisher), two of the small group of humans living in hiding in the vast, dramatic and empty deserts of Texas.

Unlike refugee humans in other post apocalyptic movie worlds, in this case they are hiding from 'seekers' whose job it is to hunt them down and turn them into hosts for the alien 'souls' - shiny, tentacled objects that gave the CGI team plenty of fun. We can only tell they are hosts by the blue rings in their eyes.

Diane Kruger plays The Seeker (perhaps that should be THE Seeker), THE most determined of them all, hunting poor Melanie's reclassified body as the Wanderer (nicknamed by the humans as Wanda) inside which is the voice and the all important memory chest of the much loved older sister to Jamie (Chandler Canterbury). Oh, and of course, girlfriend to handsome young Jared (Max Irons). Her memories might lead The Seeker to the other humans silly enough to resists ... The film begins with the earth in long shot and a voice over that explains how benign, peaceful and green the world has become under the control of these aliens. This isn't actually the case ...

I'd like to think that Meyer's ill conceived novel would not have been adapted for the screen if she had not made a name for herself as the creator of the Twilight novels. But I am surprised that New Zealander Andrew Niccol, who wrote the wonderful The Truman Show (1998), directed this so poorly.

As I am neither a girl nor 16 (I do, however, have a daughter who was once 16), the film fails to entertain, amuse or satisfy me. There are too many flaws to list, ranging from the gauche to the cheesy, and the internal self contradictions of the concept are too ridiculous to contemplate. Perhaps an even more ridiculous take on the novel might have come up with an amusing sci-fi parody. As it is, the film is indistinguishable from a lemon, put together by a serial set of errors of artistic judgment.

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HOST, THE (2013) (M15+)
(US, 2013)

CAST: Saoirse Ronan, Diane Kruger, William Hurt

PRODUCER: Stephenie Meyer, Paula Mae Schwartz, Steve Schwartz, Nick Wechsler

DIRECTOR: Andrew Niccol

SCRIPT: Andrew Niccol (novel by Stephenie Meyer)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Roberto Schaeffer

EDITOR: Thomas J. Nordberg

MUSIC: Antonio Pinto


RUNNING TIME: 125 minutes



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