- Movie Rating -

The Host (2013)

| March 29, 2013 | 0 Comments

The Host opens and closes with scenes that contain elements of great science fiction.  What comes in the middle, unfortunately, is one of the longest, most frustrating films you’ll ever experience.   This movie is so slow that after a while you become convinced that the movie will go in reverse.  Some movies dare you to look away from the screen.  This one challenges you to stay awake.

To be sure, the movie has a fantastic premise.  Imagine what might happen to humanity after “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” ended.  Aliens from another world, called “souls,” have come to Earth, taken over our bodies, flushed out both our personalities and our emotions and replaced them with their own.  Imagine what happens if one operation doesn’t go quite right.  What might happen if the human personality was still inside a mind that had been replaced?

That is the problem facing an alien host named Wanderer (Saoirse Ronan).  She hears a voice in her head, the human voice of the person who previously occupied the body she has been given.  The girl inside her mind is named Melanie, who still has memories of her human occupation.  Soon those memories are being shared with Wanderer.  She keeps this information from her betters and goes on the run.  You can already guess their response.

This means we get to sit through a long series of laughable scenes in which actress Saoirse Ronan is forced to spend a lot of time talking to herself.  We hear the alien speaking, and then we hear the human voice in her head.  This works when she thinks she is about to die, but when Wanderer kisses a guy that Melanie can’t stand, it becomes ridiculous.  Ronan is a fine actress who has been better elsewhere.  Watch her sometime in Hanna and her Oscar nominated performance in Atonement.  Here she’s a real trooper, pulling off dialogue that is – to put it nicely – utterly ridiculous.

What develops from this plot isn’t as ingenious as one might hope.  Instead of exploring the possibly of this bizarre situation, The Host becomes one of those old familiar last-hope-for-humanity stories in which characters stand around talking about the situation in long, boring scenes of dialogue that should have remained on the cutting room floor.  It opens with an effectively creepy leisure pace but then never picks up any steam.  More on the plot will not be revealed here, suffice to say that after that great opening, the rest of the movie just kind of coasts.

“The Host” was written and directed by Andrew Niccol who has a talent for creating smart, inventive stories about people trapped by their circumstances.  He wrote the great Gattaca (1997) about a natural-born man trapped in a world of synthetic humans.  He wrote The Truman Show (1998), about a man trapped in his own reality show.  He made Lord of War (2005), about a man who confronts the moral implications of the international arms deals that he puts into motion.

Niccol has some of those inspirations here but he is at the mercy of a script based on a book by Stephanie Meyers the popular writer of the “Twilight” series.  Meyer is not a good writer, her works seem dumbed down for easy reading rather than pumped up for effect. This film, as with “Twilight”, is tilted toward something meaningful he can’t seem to get the movie out of first gear.  All of the characters look alike, talk alike, sound alike.  They stand around and have long boring conversations about the same thing over and over and over and over.  It’s like the movie had a great launch and then spent the rest of its time driving around in a circle. The ideas are there, but they just never come to life.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.