Monday, April 1, 2013
The Host - Movie Review
Starring Saoirse Ronan, William Hurt, Jake Abel, Max Irons, Diane Kruger and Frances Fisher.
Directed by Andrew Niccol.
This harmless sci-fi diversion produces a narrative challenge for director Andrew Niccol (Gattaca) and actress Saoirse Ronan (Hanna). How do you keep dramatic momentum going when most of it is about a girl arguing with the alien being possessing her body?
Based on the Stephenie Meyer best-seller, this story takes place in the not-too-distant future, where the Invasion of the Body Snatchers has happened, and almost all humans are now possessed. Only a handful of humans still have free will, and we immediately see the capture of Melanie (Ronan), who has an alien put inside her. (Looks similar to the ones on Star Trek: DS9, with more glowing).
So for most of the movie, you have the alien - Wanderer - trying to ignore Melanie's voice in her head. Most humans fade away and vanish after possession, but Melanie has a really strong spirit. It's a juggling act, and Ronan does a great job with it. There's a scene toward the end, all in a close-up of her face, where Wanderer and Melanie are exchanging what might be their final words, and Ronan made me believe.
The aliens can search the memories of those they possess, and Wanderer is interrogated by a Seeker (Kruger), aliens who specialize in tracking down the last few humans. Wanderer begins to sympathize with Melanie and escapes the compound where she's questioned. She makes her way to the hide-out where her husband, brother, uncle, aunt, and others are creating a hidden society for themselves.
At first, the survivors think they should just kill Wanderer, but Uncle Jeb (Hurt) wants to give it time, and as he does, he begins to believe "Wanda" has enough Melanie in her to keep her alive, and maybe he can make her an ally. There's also an amusing love-triangle that develops when one survivor falls for Wanda, while her husband just wants Melanie back. Let's just say Jake Abel and Max Irons are better actors than Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner.
Most of the outside world is undercooked. It's your usual sterile dystopian future, where most people wear all white but most things are the same, to save on budget.
We had some teen girls in our audience who wound talking and giggling through most of it. I'm sure RiffTrax will have a blast with it, but I accepted the movie on its own terms, and based on that, I thought it delivered mostly on what it wanted to do. If I had to choose between watching a Twilight 6 or a Host 2, I'd easily pick Host 2.