Saturday, February 01, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—The Host (2013) **

PG-13, 125 min.
Director: Andrew Niccol
Writers: Andrew Niccol, Stephanie Meyer (novel)
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, Jake Abel, Chandler Canterbury, Diane Kruger, William Hurt, Boyd Holbrook, Frances Fisher, Lee Hardee, Mustafa Harris, Stephen Ryder, Scott Lawrence, Emily Browning

“The Host” would be a fairly compelling science fiction about an “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” style alien invasion where parasites take over our human forms if it weren’t so drawn out and slow. Melanie is a member of the dwindling human resistance after the Earth has been mostly colonized with much of the human race compromised to the alien entities. She is caught and has an alien known as Wanderer implanted into her body. Although Wanderer culls a good deal of information from Melanie’s memories for the aliens to use against the resistance, Melanie fights back and eventually turns Wanderer to her plight. The two help each other escape the aliens and search out Melanie’s surviving family.

One of the challenges facing the filmmakers adapting this Stephanie Meyer (“Twilight”) novel to film is the notion of allowing the audience to hear Melanie’s thoughts after Wanderer has taken over her physical form. Unfortunately this is one of those things that works better in the written form than the cinematic. The voiceover thoughts of Melanie come across almost like a joke. Her urgency is a little too loud, a little too high pitched, and frankly not very subtle. Saoirse Ronan does her best to act both sides of her mental conflict, but the voice over of her thoughts never quite works on a serious level.

But the film’s biggest problem is its pace. It is not tortoise slow. It is snail slow. The alien race that has taken over is supposedly benevolent, so they approach all the action without emotion or urgency. This severely hampers the drama of the action. The pace gets better as the movie goes along, but it never recovers from its lethargic beginnings. 

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