A few months from now, when you visit Netflix, you’ll have a choice of two films titled “The Host.” There’ll be the excellent 2006 Korean horror film about a creature that comes out of a river and wreaks havoc on the populace, and there’ll be this one, an adaptation of the Stephenie Meyer novel – the one that she promised would be for “more mature” readers than those who gobbled up her “Twilight” books.
Make sure to pick the Korean one.
The new “Host” is a science-fiction film that features an intriguing idea. Things are going pretty well in our world: Hunger has been eradicated, violence doesn’t exist, the environment is healed, everyone is nice. In fact, the only problem is that an alien race has invaded the planet and taken over everyone’s bodies.
Well, not everyone. There are some survivors who are on the run, or hiding out, who could at any time form a resistance and try to get the planet back.
It’s easy to differentiate between humans and the film’s blatant rip-off of the pod people from “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” Humans have tempers and get jealous, and they’ll do anything to save their loved ones, even commit suicide if necessary. But there’s something odd about those occupiers or colonizers or whatever you want to call them.
Most of them just go about their business – working jobs, raising families, giving their car to any stranger that might ask for it. But they all have icy blue eyes, and the ones that are in charge like to dress in natty white outfits and have a penchant for very shiny, very expensive vehicles (a mirror-coated Lotus is a favorite among them).
When we first meet the human, Melanie (Saoirse Ronan), she’s fleeing from those who would make her one of them.
To protect a couple of other humans, she opts for death, leaping from a window. But the aliens have also worked wonders with medical procedures, and she’s revived, although her brown eyes are now icy blue, and she’s being questioned by a Seeker (Diane Kruger), who’s the equivalent of an alien FBI agent, determined to find out more about renegade humans, then hunt them down. Melanie, with an alien soul now living inside, is renamed Wanderer, later to be shortened to Wanda. But Melanie’s own soul is also still in there. So begins a film-length inner conversation, or battle of voices, between Melanie and Wanda, that only Melanie-Wanda can hear.
Yes, for those of you wondering, this all gets very confusing. It’s sometimes hard to figure out which one is talking, but you’ll eventually catch on that Melanie is either stronger-willed or just louder than Wanda.
Because this all comes from Stephenie Meyer, we also get a romance triangle. Wanda runs across a scorching desert to find her laid-back, gun-toting Uncle Jeb (William Hurt), who runs a refuge for other survivors in a mostly extinct volcano that also has a huge underground wheat field (Honest. I didn’t make that up.), and gets involved with Jared (Max Irons) and Ian (Jake Abel).
You want some drama? OK, one of them wants to kill her, and one of them just wants her.
There’s too much talk in this movie, and too much of it consists of vapid, stilted dialogue.
I think it’s all supposed to be profound. But it’s not.