Saoirse Ronan as Melanie Stryder & Wanda
Diane Kruger as Seeker & Lacey
Jake Abel as Ian
Max Irons as Jared
William Hurt as Jeb
Chandler Canterbury as Jamie
Boyd Holbrook as Kyle
Scott Lawrence as Doc
Frances Fisher as Maggie
Tailinh Agoyo as Seeker Robin
Phil Austin as Seeker Waverley
Marcus Lyle Brown as Healer Fords
Evan Cleaver as Seeker Pavo
Stephen Conroy as Seeker Sands
J.D. Evermore as Trevor Stryder
Andrea Frankle as Healer Skye
Raeden Greer as Lily
Lee Hardee as Aaron
Mustafa Harris as Brandt
David House as Seeker Summers
Tatanka Means as Seeker Hawke
Jaylen Moore as Seeker Song
Michael L. Parker as Seeker Wolfe
Shawn Carter Peterson as Wes
Stephen Rider as Seeker Reed
Erik Schultz as Seeker Zephyr
Bokeem Woodbine as Nate
Directed by Andrew Niccol
The earth has been invaded by aliens who inhabit the bodies of humans, but one young woman named Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan) is going to fight back and while an alien named Wanderer takes control of her body, she escapes from the aliens to return to her younger brother Jamie (Chandler Canterbury) and boyfriend Jared (Max Irons) who are now living in a large cavern with the human revolution.
Why does every single young adult novel being adapted into a movie seem to be the pilot for a bad WB or CW drama? That’s the question that goes through my mind every time I choose to subject myself to one of these and “The Host,” written and produced by the mother of all young adult novelists Stephenie Meyer, is no exception.
The opening introduces an Earth where most of the human inhabitants have become the hosts for aliens, but we watch as one young human woman throws herself through a window rather than be captured and taken over. She doesn’t die so they fix her up using their alien technology and put one of their weird glowing jellyfish inside her. But this host body, a feisty redhead named Melanie Stryder, has retained her consciousness and within seconds we hear Melanie’s voice screaming from inside the head of the alien-infested Melanie. And that’s pretty much what we’ll have to put up for the next two hours as a lame premise is dragged down by terrible execution. See if you can follow this, but basically the alien named Wanderer has fully taken over Melanie’s body, but her consciousness is still present and isn’t happy with what the aliens plan on doing with her.
Eventually Melanie and Wanderer escape the compound with the Seekers after them, still arguing with her inner monologue to the point of flipping over a car, and they end up in a large volcanic cavern in the middle of the desert where her uncle (William Hurt) and the rest of the human revolution are holed up.
We then start to see the conflict between the human revolution and the Seekers after them, though its never explained why every single human being needs to be taken over as a host for an alien entity. There are mixed messages about how peaceful these aliens might be as Wanderer (shortened to “Wanda” by the rebels) denies that they have violent desires and yet, we see a couple of half-hearted action scenes of the humans fighting against Seekers trying to find them.
At the age of 18, Saorsie Ronan is a damn talented actress who is growing into a fine young woman, definitely looking more grown up in this role, but no matter how well she delivers her lines, there’s always the breathless screaming Melanie blurting things out and ruining every single moment. Its the kind of thing someone should have immediately realized how it just doesnt work, but instead, this device is carried through the entire movie from beginning to end.
Jake Abel, Max Irons and Boyd Holbrook, the three guys in the revolution all around Melanies age, all look so similar it makes it almost impossible to figure out who exactly is interacting with Melanie/Wanda at any give time. At one point, “Wanda” decides that making out with two of those guys might be enough to get Melanie’s voice to return to her head when she stops talking to her, just to give you one example of how ridiculous it is. Compared to the male eye candy, William Hurt actually comes off quite well as Melanie’s kindly uncle although his presence isnt enough to make up for the weak storytelling.
Essentially, this is a terrible premise that’s dragged down by even worse execution a lot like Andrew Niccols last movie “In Time,” in fact. Granted, hes made a decent looking movie, helped by having the open desert as a primary setting which dramatically steps up the production values, but it suffers from serious pacing problems because much of the movie involves the humans having conversations about the situation they’re in, how much they hate the aliens, and whether or not Melanie is still conscious inside the alien body. It’s all stuff that any shrewd viewer will have figured out so all that talking does is drag the pace down even further.
Of course, the movie ends with a tease for a sequel because these young adult adaptations never can be done in one, but like “I Am Number Four,” we wont be holding our breath for that sequel.
The Bottom Line:
While “The Host” may be technically proficient, the execution of the premise makes it come across like one of the most moronic sci-fi movies in recent memory. More than that, it makes it painfully obvious Stephenie Meyer is a one-trick pony and a trick like “Twilight” you can only really pull off once.