Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘The Host’ Review: Fans of Meyer’s Sci-Fi Novel Will Enjoy

Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight Saga” has a completely separate fan base than that of her adult novel, “The Host.” I don’t foresee thousands of Twilight fans flocking to the theatres this weekend to check out The Host because “Nothing will ever be as pure and good as Bella and Edward’s relationship!!” With that being said, The Host has its own fan base and the majority of them will be happy with this film adaptation directed by Andrew Niccol (In Time).

Moviegoers that are not familiar with Stephenie Meyer’s novel may like The Host if they can accept that the science fiction part of the story is a little strange. Between the two females in one body and that one of them is an alien and they are each in love with two different boys or something like that, Stephenie Meyer’s The Host can be a bit confusing to the naked eye.

An unseen alien species is taking over mankind and erasing their memories. When the alien inhabits the human body, the humans have no more control and creepiest of all, their eyes turn icy blue. (Meyer obviously has a thing for glowing eyes). There are only a few humans left and Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan) and her brother Jamie (Chandler Canterbury) are two of them. Melanie and her brother have been on the run for a while and that’s where she meets Jared (Max Irons), another surviving human running from the aliens. Melanie and Jared form a relationship that is originally based on survival, but eventually the two grow to love each other deeply.

Melanie gets captured by the Seekers, a group of aliens hunting for the last of the humans, but her brother and Jared end up escaping. Head Seeker (Diane Kruger) places an alien, who is called Wanderer, into Melanie’s body, but Melanie isn’t taken over for good. With Melanie still speaking inside, Wanderer slowly begins to understand human emotions and how precious their free will is.

Some aspects of the story that work perfectly in the book world come off as corny and odd in the movie world. Saoirse Ronan is playing two different females in the film: Melanie Stryder, the human girl that was taken over by an alien species and Wanderer, the alien who has inhabited her body. In the novel, Melanie and Wanderer talk to each other inside Melanie’s human body and in the film, their conversations are all done through voiceover. The voiceover ends up being the main problem with The Host because parts that should be taken seriously come off as funny. Fans of the book may appreciate what’s going on, but others may just have a few laughs here and there.

Saoirse Ronan does great work playing both Melanie and Wanderer and it’s interesting to see the characters fight for their lives and where each of them will end up. It’s not an easy task playing two characters, especially in this case where much of Ronan’s performance is her facial expressions and not her dialogue.

Max Irons is the perfect young Hollywood hottie to play Jared, Melanie’s boyfriend. He’s not a super well-known actor (yet) and if The Host is the first film in another Meyers saga (Meyer says she’s working on the sequel now) then Irons is sure to blow up. In the film, Jared isn’t just the cookie cuter love interest of our lead character; he has his own personality and agenda. We see two completely different characters in Irons’ Jared: one who is in love and the other dying for revenge, once he believes Melanie has died.

The ending of The Host sets up for a sequel and its clear that Jake Abel’s Ian will have a bigger part in the second part of the saga. The film’s screenplay doesn’t allow him to have much of a character arc in this film, even though Abel gives it his all. I hate to say this but it’s pretty clear his character is the “Jacob” of the two boys.

The Host may not have the massive fan base that Twilight has, but Meyer’s unique perspective into the science fiction world may attract new fans of the genre. This novel was always going to be extremely hard to translate onscreen and although it isn’t the best book adaptation, the actors make it worth the watch. Just maybe wait for the Blu-ray rental versus paying to see it in the theatre.

I sat down with Max Irons and Jake Abel in Washington, DC. The Hollywood hotties discuss how Stephenie Meyer influenced their performance, what is was like working with director Andrew Niccol and all that kissing with Saoirse. Listen to the interview here.

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