You’ve no doubt figured it out, so I’ll go ahead and admit it. I’m a Twilight fan. I’m not proud of it, but it’s the truth. Books, movies, all good as far as I’m concerned.
This does not, however, make me a Stephenie Meyer fan. Is she a great idea person? Absolutely! Can she write first-person from the perspective of a petulant teenage girl? With the best of ’em!
Ms. Meyer will draw you in hook, line and sinker…up to a point. Tip-toe into that dangerous territory of composing a climactic scene, though—like, say, an epic battle between the ruling-class of vampires and their civilian counterparts—and her writing falls flat.
Therein lies the biggest problem with Meyer’s latest box-office foray, The Host, which I had the pleasure of pre-screening last night. Fair warning: I’ve not read the book, so I can’t offer any background on how it compares.
The premise is surprisingly compelling: there is a race of alien beings (“souls”) that travel from world to world and take up residence inside other living creatures (“hosts”). For whatever reason, these beings have taken over Earth and, consequently, infiltrated the human race.
In other words, they’re parasite alien amoebas that are implanted in human beings and take over the body as their own.
Unlike Meyer’s vampires who sparkle, the
amoebas souls are shiny and travel in shiny vehicles (in little vessels when between hosts and driving in mirror-finished cars when inhabiting humans).
Every so often, a soul will find resistance in its host body. And that’s where we get our story.
Melanie Stryder is an average girl living an average life until the whole amoeba parasite apocalypse thing happens. She and her little brother and a guy who ends up being her boyfriend are on the run, hiding from the “Seekers” who capture humans and implant said amoeba souls for no apparent reason other than to perpetuate their species. At one point, Melanie tries to draw the Seekers’ attention away from her brother, promises him she’ll be back and winds up getting captured.
The soul that’s assigned to Melanie is called Wanderer (later referred to as Wanda). Wanderer infiltrates Melanie’s memories in search of other human hold-outs, but Melanie fights back; see, her mind is still in there, just kind of trapped. Melanie doesn’t want to let Wanderer be in control. Confused yet?
Well Wanderer/Melanie talk to each other, which is weird and one of the dumbest aspects of the whole movie. Melanie’s voice-over commentary is goofy, much like the scenes in Twilight where the CGI wolves talk to each other. I get the idea, it just doesn’t really work.
Anyway, Melanie convinces Wanderer to help keep her promise of returning to her brother. After a series of events, she’s reunited with her family only to face the trials of being accepted (they think the alien is trying to trick them so they’ll be captured), falling in love (more on that later) and being hunted by a Seeker.
Okay, I won’t say much more about the plot because I don’t want to ruin it for anybody. But I will highlight some of the signature Stephenie Meyer elements…
Exhibit A. The Love Triangle
Except in this case it’s a love rhombus because Wanderer/Melanie is technically two beings and each is interested in a different dude. 2+1+1=4=love rhombus
Exhibit B. “I Hate/Love You”
Guy tries to kill Melanie then falls in love with her and wants to protect her. Sound familiar?
Exhibit C. Avoid Confrontation
Don’t worry, no spoilers. Just trust me, the ending reeks of vanilla. <disgruntled sigh>
All things considered, it was a decent film. My partner in crime, Severus, thought it was better than any of the Twilight movies (except Breaking Dawn: Part 2, which he tolerates). He appreciated that it lacked “all of the awkward staring” that’s the hallmark of a Bella/Edward dynamic.
On that note, I found the actors a little ho-hum; perhaps a bit better than the kids in those other movies but not significantly. I assume there is deeper character development in the book, which might have made me care more.
As it was, I liked The Host. Didn’t love it, and not sure I’d pony up the money to see it on the big screen again. In fact, unless you’re a die-hard fan of the book, I’d wait and catch it on Netflix.