It’s hardly a good sign that midway through The Host movie goers may start clamoring for Bella and Edward.
Even those who found the Twilight franchise one long, clunky mess applauded the sweet love story at its center. The love triangle struggling to power The Host, another saga based on a novel by Stephenie Meyer, is both ambitious and hopelessly daffy.
The Host offers a stripped down science fiction story, one that takes little advantage of its premise. From there, it’s another fuzzy duel between stiff acting and slack pacing. What The Host offers is an impressive performance by Saoirse Ronan, the gifted Atonement actress who deserves an honorary Oscar for not snickering along with the rest of us.
It’s sometime in the near future, and an alien species has taken over the bodies of nearly the entire human race. They still look like us–save some cheesy contact lenses–but their occupation has removed hunger, war and any signs of struggle from the planet.
A better movie might have a few things to say on this subject, but we digress.
A small band of humans have managed to resist the alien hosting push, including plucky Melanie (Ronan), who when we first see her somehow survives a multi-story drop onto a concrete floor.
She’s quickly “hosted” up, but for some reason a sliver of Melanie remains within her body. So the alien entity inside her, dubbed Wanderer, has internal arguments with Melanie, and audiences get to hear both sides of their discussions.
Many laughs ensue, a few actually intentional.
Wanderer, whose name is later shortened to simply “Wanda,” ends up aligning with a small group of humans led by William Hurt and his meandering southern accent. The group is trying to stay alien-free, all the while two young men among them only have eyes for Melanie/Wanda. Jared (Max Irons) fell for Melanie and can’t forget his crush. Ian (Jake Abel) is smitten with Wanda.
Team Confused, anyone?
The Host teases some interesting science fiction elements which never arrive, offers a bare minimum of action and delivers a love triangle that’s both loopy and lackluster. Ronan, magically, almost makes it work. She’s saddled with terrible dialogue and a robustly ridiculous dual identity, but her plucky presence makes even the silliest exchanges less absurd.
The film offers a chaste love connection or two, some impressively spare set design and enough story elements that could be remade in 20 years and yield a terrific sci-fi adventure.
Until then, we’re stuck with The Host as is.