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The Host (2013)


The Host

Any best-selling teen novel is likely to either get its own feature film or be optioned by a studio for its film rights to be produced at some point. Open Road Films brought alive another Stephanie Meyer work of fiction, only this one has a different threat or twist than that of a girl wanting to die to be with the guy she loves. 

She promised once the danger had passed she’d return. Melanie Stryder (Saorise Ronan) is a fighter; she’s hiding her brother from the resistance force that has invaded their world in hopes of claiming all human bodies as hosts for their souls. Along the way she meets Jared (Max Irons), another human who has escaped capture only when the Seekers catch up to them, Melanie flees in an attempt to draw them away from her brother, Jamie (Chandler Canterbury).

Now, while in their clutches, rather than be implanted, Melanie attempts to kill herself only to somehow survive the fall. In the aftermath, Wanderer takes Melanie’s body as her host. What Wanderer isn’t prepared for is Melanie being alive and rebelling against her at every turn, all the while fighting against Wanderer who shares all of Melanie’s memories with her Seeker (Diane Kruger).

This film was boldly attacked if memory serves correctly. Filmmakers and promotion put too much stock in the name Stephanie Meyer, which they banked on carrying The Host towards being another record-breaker. I’d started to read this novel this past winter preceding the theater release, and found it monotonous yet quite interesting (yes, I realize that sounds contradictory, however the book is slow-moving which makes the adventure “dull”). The premise is actually unique without many caveats and if I may timidly say, having not finished the novel, I thought the script did a nice job of retaining the purpose of the novel. 

When finally watching this one Sunday night, I put it in the DVD tray expecting not to like the movie. I’d read some uncomplimentary things, and while I suspect it may have taken a more romanticized approach, I did actually like the film. It was creative and the storytelling was decent in comparison to its generational stories. Plus what’s more, the movie quietly relates its story without much in the way of action moving it forward. The world in which the seekers live was sleek and just as one might imagine people attempting to obtain “peace” would live in (no surprise considering the man behind the camera is Andrew Niccol, In Time).

Part of moving the story forward were flashbacks and while sometimes it’s a bad habit for film to use recollections that can easily become repetitive and nourish character “hang ups,” in this case, they were necessary to demonstrate Melanie’s fear and fight to find herself again. I cannot pretend that the film didn’t grow on me with each frame and as the layers were pulled back on the characters, but one thing that could be said is this script has a very prominent awareness of being politically correct. It’s not just one element either; the entire story works hard to insure every outcome leaves an­ impression of “peace” and equality. There is never pleasure to any sort of fighting or war, however to protect lives and freedom, it has become a necessary evil and when stories mess with the legitimacy of that, I tend to find that premise foolish.

FILM REVIEW | Brooklyn (2015)

The Host

Casting Ronan didn’t seem to “fit” the story, but then I came into this with some bias since I wasn't necessarily a fan of Saorise. The girl proved me wrong. I thought she gave a kick-butt portrayal of Melanie; a girl who had to demonstrate multiple personalities and she did it all with great aplomb. There isn’t a lot of “crackling” chemistry between Saorise and the two guys (Irons, Jake Abel). Its approach was more sweet than passionate which I don’t mind since most teen fandoms often present unrealistic portraits of what love is. That being said, the movie still abuses young love and where some may find this love triangle oddly unnerving, it’s actually captivating; it evokes emotions that usually we wouldn’t feel or consider in the stereotypical teen love triangles (Peeta, Gale and Katniss, I am looking at you).  

Fans of the Stephanie Meyer novel (of the same name) may not like how the book-to-screen adaptation worked, however I was impressed with it. Between the cast and visually motivating worlds, the story pulled me in and I got caught up in Melanie’s helpless plight, Wanderer’s growing affection for the people who are sheltering her and the impressive visual effects. It doesn’t have the same, profound message as some of the teen dramas I’ve recently seen, however the filmmaking makes a statement and the actors embody these characters well once they step into the shoes of these young protagonists, and through all the good and bad, The Host is decent entertainment. It’s something I’d rewatch and in the end, it reminds us that there are some things worth fighting for.

CONTENT: a flashback pictures a young, unmarried couple in bed [covered in sheets] and subtle conversation reveals that a girl wants to consummate a relationship because they might not get a tomorrow. There are some passionate kisses between a girl and two different guys – once a kiss is used to bring someone “back.” Someone jumps out a window, breaking nearly everything in her body and at least two other characters commit suicide [they run their vehicle into a barricade] instead of being caught and “invaded” by a soul; a couple of “tense” moments involve chases and some seekers are shot. We see a few operations – nothing overly graphic, as the soul enters a person in the back of the brain, and a girl inflicts self-injury [cuts her arm and forehead] in order to escape suspicion. The film rates PG13.
 
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6 comments:

  1. I loved the book so I'm wondering what I'll think. :) Great honest review.

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    1. I haven't finished the novel yet, Juju, however what I read and then watching this, I thought it was quite good. This is definitely one of my faves of the year. Hope you enjoy the film! :)

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  2. After reading the book I was SO excited to watch the film (even though I'd heard so many bad reviews). I wasn't blown away, the book was obviously better. But I really didn't think it was as bad as everyone was making it out to be.
    xo TJ

    http://www.hislittlelady.com

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    1. Agreed! I quite loved the movie and even though I'm not done with the book yet, I thought it did a nice job of the book-to-screen transfer, TJ. Glad you were a fan.

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  3. Though I have no interest whatsoever to watch the Twilight saga, I was actually intrigued by the storyline and the trailer of The Host and might watch it in the future.

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    1. *High Five* I've no interest in the Twilight movies either, Birdie. I did think the wedding scene was gorgeous but beyond that... yep, I don't plan to watch them.

      The story in this movie is interesting and I hope you enjoy it if/when you rent/watch the movie. :)

      Delete

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