Movie Review: 'The Host' (2013)

The Host is the latest adaptation of one of best-selling author Stephenie Meyer’s novels. Yes, the same woman who wrote Twilight. I have read all of her books from Twilight to The Host and can say without a doubt that The Host was her best book. There was something very deep about the novel from the character development to the overall plot line.

 It takes you a while to get there and when you do arrive it has been well worth the journey. Now a quick summary, a young woman Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan) is captured by an alien race and implanted with the “soul” of said alien and drama ensues.

I don’t want to give more than that away because this is a story that hinged on so much of the unknown. It’s hard to determine where it’s going because it isn’t a formulaic piece and that is part of its appeal. We don’t know how things are going to turn out and that is a welcome change.

Upon a second viewing I can imagine that it will be even better to watch because so much of watching it the first time, I was watching to see what made it from the book and what didn’t. So that was a bit distracting.

The film was directed by Andrew Niccol, the mastermind behind such films as Gattaca, Lord of War, In Time, & The Truman Show so as you can see this is a really accomplished screenwriter and director. He accomplished one of the rare feats that directors who adapt books into movies face; he brought the world of the book to life.

The cave was absolute perfection and the set design was marvelous. This was half the battle and he nailed it. The cinematography is crisp and sharp. The score was spot on and struck a good balance between letting its presence be known and being vague enough as to not distract from the dialogue.

Niccol also got the best out of his cast; lead by Saoirse Ronan she rose to the occasion in a surprising turn. This was a really tricky part and in the hands of lesser actors it would've been disastrous. It proves that Ronan has a significant range. There were some times, especially at the beginning of the movie, where her accent slipped in though.

Because of that it may have been better to have just had her go with it and use her Irish accent for the part of Wanderer and used an American accent for Melanie to differentiate between the two. Choosing a southern accent as the distinction was a little difficult to follow and not consistent enough to warrant the change. It was too faint to really be distinguishable.

The stand out performance of the film belongs to the superb William Hurt who proves that he is still one of the most versatile actors working. He typically portrays characters that sport a cold-blooded sensibility.

As Jeb, Hurt captures the antithesis of that playing, a good ole’ boy genius and the heart of the human resistance. He portrays Jeb with a warmth, strength and wit. There are other actors who could’ve played this role yet none would’ve done it any better.

Diane Kruger gave an intense performance with a rewarding twist at the end that demonstrated her versatility. As for the younger actors, Max Irons (Jared) still seems to be struggling to find his footing. Newcomer Jake Abel (Ian) showed promise as well as an uncanny resemblance to Kiefer Sutherland.  Ronan’s scenes with Chandler Canterbury (Jamie) were very well done and they avoided the annoying kid clichés that have plagued so many movies.

The Host is a movie that you need to let sit on you. It is not a popcorn movie and those looking for a teenage romance romp, will need to look elsewhere. While, it is doubtful that it will see a sequel after a disappointing run at the domestic box office, the overseas numbers might be better; it was nice to see the vision of the book brought to life.

As someone who watched this movie through the eyes as someone whose read it, it is a different experience than those who haven’t, either way; I think it is well-worth a look. The story illustrates a very important message about how choosing love can help you overcome a lot of life's adversities and that kind of story is in short supply these days. Rating: 3/5

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