Triangulate, by Sarah Brinks
I have a lot of mixed feelings about The Host. I read the book a number of years ago and had the same mixed feelings of enjoyment and disappointment in equal measure. The biggest problem with the book and in turn the film is that it does not know what is the most interesting thing about its story is. According the author Stephanie Meyer it is a love-triangle, well I guess technicality a love-square, maybe a little explanation of the plot would help.
The Host is an adaptation of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers at its core. A group of aliens referred to as ‘Souls’ come to Earth and take over humans’ bodies and eventually colonize the planet. The only way you can tell a person has been taken over by a Soul is that their eyes have an iridescent blue glow to them, like an animals in the dark. The film starts when almost all of humanity has been taken over and only a few pockets of human resistors still exist. Melanie Stryder played by Saoirse Ronan is one of those resistors. She is cornered by the Soul’s police called ‘Seekers’ and she throws herself out a second story window rather then be taken by the Souls. She doesn’t die and a Soul called Wanderer is put in her to try and get the information from her memories about the rest of the resistance. Melanie however is too strong and her presence remains despite Wanderers insertion. Melanie refuses to give everything up to Wanderer and instead uses the power of human emotions and memory to get Wanderer on her side and ditch the Seekers to search for her family. Melanie had been hiding out with her little brother Jaime and another human they had met named Jared (played by Max Irons). They wander into the desert and are found by Melanie’s uncle Jeb played by William Hurt and taken to his cave home where a pocket of humans still live including Jared and Jaime. However the Seeker who has been questioning Wanderer will not give up the search for Wanderer/Melanie.
The film is beautifully shot and very well acted. The one thing you can really say for the film is that everyone is doing their best to make a great movie. Unlike the Twilight Saga, The Host feels like everyone is committed, if you watch any of the Twilight films they all feel like the people making them can’t be bothered to actually care. Also unlike the Twilight Saga the acting doesn’t feel tacked on like an after thought. With some heavy hitters like William Hurt, Frances Fisher, and Saorise Ronan and relative new comers like Chandler Canterbury, Max Irons, and Jake Abel the cast is all doing really good work with the mediocre story and script. Ronan has the hardest job in the film, she hears Melanie in her head and often has to respond to her out loud. We hear Melanie as voice-over. The voice-over in the beginning is a little tough to swallow but you quickly adjust. Ronan handles the challenge of her role as both Melanie and Wanderer very well and in less capable hands it would have been a disaster. The rest of the film looks beautiful, I have to give credit to the set designer and the lighting designer for the cave work. My only minor complaint is that all the vehicles the Seekers use are all very shiny silver. Silver = ‘the future’ feels a little lazy to me.
I wish the film and the book had recognized that the humans struggle for survival is really the interesting part of the story not whether Melanie will get back together with Jared or if Wanderer will hook up with a human survivor named Ian (played by Jake Abel). I won’t spoiler anything but there is an event at the very end of the book and the movie that is the most interesting idea in the story and I am much more fascinated by that event then the love-square I mentioned earlier: Mel loves Jared but is trapped inside Wanderer, Wanderer love Ian but Mel won’t let her, Ian and Jared both love Wanderer and Mel respectively… maybe it is a love-cube actually. The film also completely fails to explore all the interpersonal relationships of the human survivors outside the love-cube, except Uncle Jeb and the cave doctor. There are a lot of flaws in the story but Andrew Niccol’s keeps the film moving forward and overall made an entertaining film. He also seems to really understand what the tween audience craves: hot people making out, a lot.
I have to take a minute to give you a serious warning: if you are going to see The Host, I knew when I bought my ticket that I was going to see a tween romance and there was the danger of having to deal with teenagers. What I did not expect was the unrelenting barrage of conversation that I experienced throughout the entire film. The only time they quieted down to a whisper was when I physically turned around in my seat and asked them to be quiet. Needless to say I have never felt more like Clint Eastwood telling kids to get off my lawn more in my life. That being said I did enjoy the film and despite its short comings in the story department I can recommend it to anyone who is willing to watch a film based on a book by the author of the Twilight Saga… you know who you are.