Review: The Host
A race of alien parasites known as Souls has taken over the Earth and most of its humans, inhabiting their bodies and creating a world of peace and kindness, but devoid of love and passion. Melanie Stryder is captured and implanted, but she battles internally with her host. As the alien soul warms to Melanie, they escape and set out together to find her family and survive the extermination of all human life.
Who’s in It?
The talented and incandescent Saoirse Ronan plays the dual role of sorts, acting as both the alien, known as The Wanderer or Wanda, and Melanie. Diane Kruger is the evil Soul on her trail, while William Hurt plays the gruff and level-headed Jeb Stryder. And because this is a film based on a Stephanie Meyer book, there are attractive young people who have survived, but only enough of them to make for the requisite love triangle.
Amidst a few back and forth comments that are funnier than they should be, Wanda, a parasitic soul from distant planet inhabiting the body of Melanie Stryder says, ‘This is very complicated.’ She, or it, is sitting outside atop a rock formation in the middle of the desert next to a handsome young man who is attracted to her, or it, and she, or it, is attracted to him. Maybe. So it is a bit complicated, but not just because no one knows how to refer to the alien.
See, by this time in the The Host, a silly, easy post-Twilight sci-fi teen romance, Wanda has learned from her Melanie (heard in voice-overs) that humans are compassionate creatures. She has been reluctantly harbored by a group of surviving humans that hopes to bring back Melanie – her body is intact, after all. Among the survivors is Melanie’s boyfriend, still attracted to her and her body, but this new fella Ian, falls for Melanie’s body and supposedly Wanda’s soul. And so Wanda and Ian have a funny, honest, and awkward conversation about love, while Melanie listens and comments inside Wanda’s head.
It’s such a wonderful metaphoric scene but egregiously it’s not seen out to its rightful end, and the same goes for the film. Never mind that Ian probably hasn’t seen as attractive a woman years, and never mind that the aliens aren’t so menacing, especially since they champion peace and drive shiny Lotuses
The Host dips its toes in the water of significance, and recoils, resigned to be welcoming, simple, and forgettable in favor of convenience. It offers nothing else in the way of cleverness or thought, and features tension in diminishing returns, which is shame. Ronan is captivating again, carrying a weak film (as she did in Hanna and The Lovely Bones), but other than a broken heart, how much danger are we really in?
Should I See It?
It’s far better than Twilight and has a bit more to say (not hard to do), but in the end it’s a teen sci-fi romance. Watch the 2006 South Korean creature feature of the same name instead.
There are a few of those typical lines where the alien comments on human life and it’s meant as funny, but most profound is still “This is very complicated.” If only they elaborated.