Matt Pais, @mattpais
RedEye movie critic
March 28, 2013
0.5 stars (out of four)
Congratulations, Stephenie Meyer. You made something worse than “Twilight.”
Adapted by suddenly terrible writer/director Andrew Niccol (“The Truman Show,” “In Time”) from Meyer’s supposedly adult novel, “The Host” attempts to construct another chaste love triangle around a bland, largely inactive young woman (Saoirse Ronan) and the two dudes (Max Irons, Jake Abel) who brood over her/battle to kiss her in the rain. Big problems with that: The guys, Jared (Irons) and Ian (Abel), have roughly the same personality, and the girl, Melanie (Ronan), has been partially overtaken by an alien with its own personality—to the point that Jared’s fond of Melanie but Ian has eyes for Wanda, the name used when Melanie’s body succumbs to the extraterrestrial personality.
Inside their shared head, Melanie and Wanda constantly argue about the guys. For example: “What the hell, Wanda?” Maybe these four should just double date?
If you’re confused and/or shocked by the stupidity of this “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”-lite situation, you should be. The first installment of a planned trilogy, “The Host” exists in a future that’s essentially indistinguishable from any other cinematic vision. This world contains numerous shiny objects and dull outfits, and life has increased in efficiency but decreased in individuality. That’s because the alien race, which looks like floating digital sperm when separated from human bodies, has overtaken humanity and resulted in a planet at peace without any hunger or violence. You might say, “That could present an interesting dilemma: Is the Earth better off this way? Would some humans voluntarily submit to the aliens, who appear to do people no harm, because of what they’ve done to society?”
The humorless “The Host,” however, addresses none of these complexities and at times seems like a result of a galactic misunderstanding. The resistance (which also includes William Hurt as Melanie’s uncle) stands up to the “seekers” (led by Diane Kruger) without considering any gray area to the situation. The aliens have invented many powerful sprays for purposes such as healing and cleaning but can neither fly nor effectively defend themselves from a human’s punch. So maybe these creatures, discernible in humans only because of their sharp blue eyes, aren’t so talented after all. Regardless, get ready for some hot interspecies kissing!
Scene after scene should cause a reaction of “Huh?,” whether Kruger’s character asserts that Melanie “wants to live” after trying to kill herself or a nonsensical graph is presented as the unresolved key to certain death or the writing hits inarticulate heights like Melanie muttering to Jared, “When you touch me, it’s ... I don’t want you to stop.” If this is the future, I’ll take today.
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