Writer/director Andrew Niccol (based, of course, on the novel by Stephenie “The Queen of Twilight” Meyer) faces a huge obstacle in The Host. The invading aliens have made the world a better place, saved the environment, drive fancy sports cars, excel in courtesy, run stores where everything is free and wear awesome shoes. If this is what the alien invasion looks like, you can sign me up!
So, if the bad guys aren’t so bad, where does the tension come from?
In a world where aliens have invaded Earth and control the population by taking over the minds and bodies of us humans (inserted directly into your BRAIN!), Melanie (Saoirse Ronan), is one of the last survivors because she’s tough and has something to live for, her little brother Jamie (Chandler Canterbury). Oh, and the hunky guy, Jared (Max Irons), she has met along the way. They live like a happy family, but, it’s a movie, so that is going to change very soon.
While on the run from those pesky aliens, Melanie plunges to what should have been her death. They implant her with an alien, but the two end up co-existing in the same body and with cross purposes.
Now, she is on the run to meet up with the only humans she knows, and the alien inside of her is starting to fall for a different hunky guy, Ian (Jake Abel).
Will humans accept Melanie, or view her as one of those evil aliens they like to kill?
Which guy will she choose?
Is it really a Love Triangle if Melanie is two people?
Isn’t this a Love Square?
One the one hand, you might think all of the aliens are nice and kind on the outside (and wear those awesome shoes), but I guess we are supposed to hate them because they take over your soul (kinda like Scientologists).
But, I am worried about where the tension is supposed to come from. The Host feels like it wants to be a big idea Sci-Fi movie with questions about humanity, personal choice vs. the good of all and the struggle for power and individuality in a totalitarian state.
On the other hand, it’s about a girl torn between two boys because someone wants to sell this movie to tweens who don’t care about those other issues. Which boy she wants to kiss becomes the central drama.
Sadly, Ronan is a very good actor forced to do and say some very silly thing because Niccol provides some amazingly bad situations and dialogue. Almost everything said by Melanie (which we hear as being said inside her own head like some internal monologue of the schizophrenic) sounds childish and outrageous. It makes The Host extremely immature. At one time, she says, “when you touch me I don’t want you to stop,” which becomes the most laughtastic line of dialogue since George Lucas wrote, “hold me like you did by the lake on Naboo.”
Then, that Love Triangle (or Love Square) is old hat and it almost feel like we are supposed to break up into Team Ian and Team Jared rather than concern ourselves with the plight of human beings or freedom of will. The Host has that Been-There-Done-That feel with the basic romantic entanglements.
The Host could have become more than a tween fantasy gone awry. Maybe in the sequel they’ll aim for more?
½ Waffle (Out of 4)
The Host is rated PG-13 for some sensuality and violence