Any best-selling teen novel is likely to, at some point, be a feature film. 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.
The Host (2013) Film Review
She promises once the danger passes she’ll return. Melanie Stryder (Saorise Ronan) is a fighter. She’s hiding her brother from the resistance force that has invades 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 escapes capture only when the Seekers catch up to them, Melanie flees in an attempt to draw them away from her brother, Jamie (Chandler Canterbury).
When in their custody, rather than let them implant her, 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 fighting against Wanderer with everything she has.
Critics and audiences boldly attacked this film if my memory serves me. Pretty sure, everyone put too much stock in the name Stephanie Meyer, which they banked on carrying The Host to being another record-breaker. I did start to read this novel this past winter prior to the theater release, and found it monotonous yet quite interesting (yes, I realize that sounds contradictory; however the book is kind of “dull”). The premise is actually unique without many caveats and the script does a nice job of retaining the purpose of the novel.
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I suspect this may take a more romanticized approach, I do actually like the film. It’s creative and the storytelling is decent in comparison to its generational stories. Plus what’s more, the movie quietly relates its story without much in the way of action to move it forward. (Also the man behind the camera is Andrew Niccol, who directs In Time).
Part of moving the story forward are the flashbacks. Sometimes it’s a bad habit for film to use, in this case, they‘re necessary to demonstrate Melanie’s fear and fight. I cannot pretend that the film didn’t grow on me as the character layers pull back. On the flipside, 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 in any war, however to protect lives and freedom, it can be a necessary evil; when stories mess with the legitimacy of that, I tend to find the premise foolish.
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I didn’t love Ronan going into this, however the girl proves me wrong. She gives a kick-butt portrayal of Melanie; she has to demonstrate multiple personalities and she does so with great aplomb. There isn’t a lot of “crackling” chemistry between Saorise and the two guys (Irons, Jake Abel). Its approach is more sweet than passionate which I like; most teen fandoms often present unrealistic portraits of what love is. This said, the movie still abuses young love. 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 (looking at you The Hunger Games).
Fans of the Stephanie Meyer novel (of the same name) may not like how the book-to-screen adaptation works, however I did. Between the cast and visual worlds, the story pulls me in and I got caught up in Melanie’s helpless plight; Wanderer’s growing affection for the people 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. Through all the good and bad, The Host is decent entertainment. In the end, it reminds us that there are some things worth fighting for.
You can find The Host digitally on Amazon Video
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.