The Host, based on the novel by Stephanie Meyer, features an Earth that has been invaded by symbiotic aliens who each take over the body of a human, pushing the human mind/soul out of the way. One girl, Melanie, is able to resist the intrusion and fights back so hard she ends up living inside her own head along with the alien, Wanderer. She’s able to affect some of the alien’s actions and in the end, to show her humans as they are rather than the Hosts that the alien expects them to be.
I have to admit I didn’t expect very much from this movie. I’d seen some horrible reviews which I nearly listened to, although I don’t usually give the so-called experts much weight because honestly, I don’t think they’re human. They don’t see movies the way normal people see movies. They’re eagerly searching for something to be wrong, rather than taking a film at face value for what it truly is: entertainment.
Now that I’ve seen The Host, I know most of them…were not the target audience. I found this movie highly entertaining. I was pleasantly surprised at the plot and the characters, and happy to see that the protagonist Melanie/Wanda was actually two distinct personalities and not only that, both had depth and, dare I say, soul. Both were the kind of heroine that I’d like to know. Each strove for and stood for something real. Neither was mired in teen angst, which is what I fully expected given the previous offerings by Stephanie Meyer.
I thought the acting was fine. I saw no real problems with any of it and I thought that Saoirse Ronan did a fantastic job of being two people in one head. Every now and then the southern accent bothered me but let’s face it, not many movies get the deep Southern accent right. Sometimes I wish they wouldn’t even try.
There are a couple of major plot holes that I wish they’d spared a sentence or two to fill. I have not read the book, so I don’t know if it merely got lost in translation or if it’s simply not there and Meyer didn’t care. The first thing I noticed was the humans are hiding out in the desert, and this alien is so desperate to find them that she’ll do anything. She has access to any resource she needs or wants. And yet not once do they ever use any sort of heat-seeking technology. Not once do they use the infrared tech or anything else that is so common even in today’s average human society. I didn’t understand how a race of aliens obviously adept enough to travel between planets with fancy looking pod things and light nets and savvy enough to create mirror looking cars and truly advanced medicine could skip something so obvious as hunting the humans down by their body heat. It’s a small thing but it bugged me a bit.
The other thing that bothered me was that the humans are hiding in the middle of the desert, and they must travel a long, winding, lonely stretch of dirt road to get to their hiding spot…and these desperate aliens never see the dust trail? Anyone who’s lived in an area like that can tell you that dirt hangs in the air for days unless there’s a strong wind. It would have been seen, long after they’d driven by. All I could conclude is these aliens are horrible trackers. Makes me wonder how they survived so long. I also kept wondering why they never run out of gas.
That said, this story, first and foremost, is a romance. A love story. Yes, science fiction. Yes, there’s some “hunt down the humans at all cost” action going on but it’s a romance, all the same. Not only that, a love triangle. Actually, quadrangle…since the protagonist is really two people. I agree with Wanda the Wanderer…this is complicated. But I found it a nice twist on a typical sparkly love triangle. And I saw exactly what both boys would see in both Wanda, and Melanie. At the end, I was truly rooting for all four of them.
The end might be just a touch cheesy but I don’t care. I enjoyed this, and after all that’s exactly what I wanted…to be entertained. I gave up trying to make the plot holes make sense and just went along for the ride, and had a great time.
If you like romance with a touch of sci fi, this is actually worth seeing. Take your teenage daughter or sister or cousin and go during a matinee. Have some popcorn, don’t think too hard…and enjoy.