This one's worth skipping.

This one’s worth skipping.

Love is in the air. Alien body snatchers might be too, but they're not as important.

Love is in the air. (Alien body snatchers might be too, but they’re not as important.)

Annoyingly executed; boring

Annoyingly executed; boring

Did you know that people actually consider Stephenie Meyer‘s The Host to be a pretty good book? Yeah, my recent research indicates that The Host hasn’t been nearly as panned as the likes of The Twilight Saga has in the past, and that many – not only tweens that just don’t know any better – seem to enjoy it just fine. I must say, though, if the book bears even the slightest resemblance to the movie I just saw, I shan’t ever pick it up.

Not to be confused with that silly Korean monster movie about a giant salamander, The Host is the latest film adaptation of a Stephenie Meyer novel, more precisely the one in which she attempted to be science fiction-y and smart. Does it always work in her favor? From what I can tell, the answer is no.

The plot: As a narration by William Hurt explains, in the future, alien body-stealing parasites known simply as “Souls” have enslaved a significant persentage of mankind. Our heroine is Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan), a young girl that only falls short of being as boring as Bella Swan. She has been captured by a high-ranking Soul known as The Seeker (inhabiting the human form of Diane Kruger), as well as infused with a Soul that seems to like being called ”Wanderer”, the scheme being to use Melanie as a vessel to hunt and locate what few humans still resist assimilation; these survivors would include Melanie’s brother Jamie (Chandler Canterbury), uncle Jeb (Hurt) and obligatory love interest Jared (Max Irons). This Wanderer is apparently not very good at her job, though, seeing as she proves to have difficulties maintaining control of poor Melanie, who still fights and taunts Wanderer from within “their” mind. It gets old quite early.

After managing an escape, the rest of the film consists basically of Melanie gaining stronger control of her conciousness and continuing her attempts to communicate and reason with Wanderer, whilst also running from the evil Diane Kruger and her Soul forces and eventually reuniting with what remains of her family, unsure if they can trust her or not.  Oh, but I forgot to mention some of the obligatory teen romance; ya know, that one element which no sci-fi film would ever be complete without. Melanie is still in love with Jared, but her inhabitant strangely finds herself falling for a human lifeform, one that’s named Ian (Jake Abel). This of course, displeases Melanie. This is admittedly a lot more clever and interesting than your typical teen drama love triangle, but still just about as exciting as teen drama love triangles usually get, which I’m sure my readers are experienced enough to know is not an awful lot.

Diane Kruger as Seeker.

Diane Kruger as Seeker.

The film is directed by Andrew Niccol, whose previous works include In Time, a film that I didn’t enjoy very much. I do wish I could say his work has since improved but alas, I didn’t very much enjoy The Host either.

Now, as greatly limited as my knowledge of the book might be, I can still somewhat see why the concept of fighting for the control of your own body whilst hopelessly trapped within your own mind could work fairly well on paper. It could easily allow for some creatively narrated chapters and intriguing descriptions of our protagonist’s inner struggle. It could be clever as well as investing. This movie is neither of those things.

The exchanges between Melanie and her cerebral intruder switch continuously between being laughably corny to being unmercifully irritating. If, perhaps, the leading actress had put some effort into making either of the characters she’s playing a little more gripping and especially a little more interesting to listen to, I might’ve liked them both more. As it is, she’s not exactly Andy Serkis. The other characters bring very little to the table, as well, and I found myself not caring whether any of them would ultimately survive the battle against the alien assimilators. I don’t know if I should put the blame on unimpressive performances, bad writing, or a little bit of both. I guess I enjoyed Francis Fisher and William Hurt to some extent, but they didn’t do much to save the rest of the movie.

I was so utterly and totally bored by The Host. That is, at least, when I wasn’t annoyed by it. Just when you think we won’t be subjected to more echoing inner monologues for a while, our heroine hits us with some more. Just as a silver lining is hinted at, something stupid and/or cheesy occurs in its stead. Despite the occasional nice piece of music and good-looking shot, I did not enjoy The Host. I really-really did not enjoy The Host. And just to make things even more disgusting, this movie was actually the subject matter of the final film review ever posted by the great Roger Ebert before his recent passing. Down In Front regular Trey Stokes pointed this out on Twitter, putting it best by saying that “truly, this man died for our sins”.

One of my friends, however, is a actually a pretty big fan of the original book but has often stated how wrong and almost outright embarrassing it feels to have a Stephenie Meyer book as one of your all-time favorites. This movie is not going to make her life easier.

1.5/5 whatever

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