Movie Review: The Host (2013)

Decent exploration of alien takeover issues from author of Twilight (7.5/10)

HostIf Star Trek was the 1st generation of significant popular television sci fi, we’re getting into the 3d and 4th generations of pop sci fi now. Though The Host is a small movie that was  probably made for relative peanuts by Hollywood standards, what’s encouraging to me—a Star Trek original generation fan—is that it focuses on [yes, remarkably simple] ideas and deeper issues of humanity vs. wiz bang pyrotechnics and comic-book characterizations.

The author of the novel, Stephenie Meyer (who also wrote the series of books that became the megablockbuster Twilight movies), I must say stays true to her teen drama roots in The Host.  The main characters are only just recently teenagers, young adults facing their prime time… which turns out to be a post apocalyptic future where the humans have been almost universally absorbed into an Invasion of the Body Snatchers alien collective. The intro blurb from the IMDb page says a lot:

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

By which I mean, the story is still targeted toward youngsters. And probably ones who are generally uncomfortable with too much in the way of complexity or plausibility. The sets and production values of the film are rudimentary to say the least; one would expect that an author who has made a gazillion dollars before the age of 40 could ante up some significantly more ducats—especially for upgrading the vehicles—without interfering with the ideology. But heck, I sure don’t care.

The principal characters are women, and I do enjoy the actor Saorise Ronan who plays the protagonist Melanie Stryder. She’s not really a warrior type, rather the focal point of a psychological drama that plays out as a strong-willed human soul who does not just fade away after the alien being is introduced into her body. What you have is two beings inside the same body, with the alien one—you can tell the alien because of the bright blue marble eyes—talking on the outside, while only we in the audience hear original Melanie arguing and remonstrating with her alien coopter (named Wanderer or Wanda).

This dual personality introduces some interesting romantic issues with the two men that fall in love (or have fallen in love) with the being. Generally, good action and plot. The romantic scenes (sex-implied) are sensuous, tender, and believable. The two men, I have an idea, are extremely well known among the teen and early 20s audiences: Max Irons and Jake Abel. Well done, good chemistry with Saorise, and men are written sensitively yet with strength. Let’s give a nod to William Hurt as Melanie’s eccentric philosopher-uncle responsible for the rather deluxe desert quarters… considering they are among the last of the human resistance.

Finally, I believe most viewers will be happy with a textured and nuanced treatment of the aliens, and how the intelligent resolution breaks some new ground in the sci fi genre.

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