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MOVIE REVIEW: “The Host” Lacks ‘Soul’ of the Novel

 

Host Main (Large)

The bad news: I’ve been taken over by an alien caterpillar and I need to pay for two movie tickets. The good news: I now have someone to go to the movies with.

 

A warning was casually floated in my general direction that there was a war afoot between those who would do anything just to be in a one mile radius of the last toilet Stephenie Meyer visited, and those who would prefer to reverse the plumbing of said toilet while she was still on it.

 

Taking all of that into consideration, I’d like to set the record straight. I’m not a die-hard Meyer supporter that is going to defend her every breathe to the grave, let alone the hot dog stand across the street.  On the same token, I’m also not a self-proclaimed ‘hater’ of her work and in turn have no desire to back up any of her bathroom plumbing.

 

Dumbledore Meyer

It’s hard to disagree with Dumbledore, but that’s why I’m an Outlaw.

 

To further prove that admission, before reading her latest literary piece gone Hollywood, The Host, I hadn’t read a single word from her Twilight series, nor did I watch a second of the associated films.  Essentially, I chose to be blissfully ignorant.

 

More to the point, I’m just not into vampires – especially the young adult variety that feel the need entangle themselves in complex love triangles.  However, give me a teeny-bopper alien invasion story with a quadrangle relationship twist, and I’m sold to the highest bidder… or any bidder for that matter.

 

Stephanie-Meyer-The-Host

Is it just me, or is the fact she’s not smiling a bad sign?

 

 

SPOILER INVASION AHEAD: I divulge some plot points and story highlights immediately below.

 

Enter, The Host.  Originally introduced to me in book format over a year ago by my deputy Outlaw, Erika “Destructor” Diaz, the plot revolves around a future Earth that has been invaded by small glowing caterpillars who take control over human minds and bodies (cue up Invasion of the Body Snatchers).

 

Book Poster-Host

Never take your alien eye off the ball.

 

However, unlike most alien invasions we are accustomed to, these extra-terrestrial critters come in peace and mean no harm.  Actually, they make things seemingly better for our species by eliminating all wars, disease, need for money, and adult movies.  (Well, ALMOST everything is made better.)  Appropriately, they refer to themselves as Souls.

 


Sadly, the entire movie was just a trailer for the book

 

Unfortunately, when they take over, they really take over; pushing all elements of the prior inhabitants consciousness out the window, but retaining some of the memories as keepsakes.  Fortunately, figuring out the difference between them and non-affected humans can be achieved by noticing the glowing blue halo in their eyes, and not to mention the fact that they actually say please and thank you.

 

The-Host-African-with-Blue-Eyes2

“What you talkin’ bout Wanda?”

 

That’s where our protagonist Melanie Stryder arrive on the scene.  As the adventure begins, we witness Melanie’s last few soul-less moments spent living on the road with her little brother Jamie and the love of her life, Jared, who pretty much convinces her he is the last human male on the planet (honestly, like you wouldn’t work that angle either?).

 

Caught while dwelling in a thought to be vacant house, our heroine is cornered by the alien-ized humans, but tries to kill herself, rather than be turned into an overly pleasant worm occupied walker.  As it goes, killing one’s self in a worm-infested world isn’t as easy as it looks thanks to the caterpillars advanced meds that repair all human ailments instantly like a fix-a-flat.  Melanie is only healed so her body can be used for hosting another glow bug.

 

Hurt-Wanderer-Host

“It’s just a flesh wound… get back here and fight like a man.”

 

Alas not every human soul goes down without a fight, and Melanie’s mind doesn’t have any plans on moving out, thus she ends up sharing cognitive space with her new alien roommate known as Wanderer, whom is later nicknamed Wanda.

 

Without giving the entire farm away, the rest of the story involves Melanie and Wanda’s struggle to co-exist and their ability to cultivate a new life with the human resistance group that includes Melanie’s little brother and former boy-toy (both of whom escaped the day of Melanie’s capture).  Throw in some interesting relationship angles, an alien soul – categorized as a Seeker – that is hell bent on finding the wayward worm, along with thought provoking themes on human nature, and The Host made for a very entertaining book.  I’m even willing to go as far to say it was one of the best books I’ve read in a long while.  Hell, it’s what motivated me to start typing away at my first attempt at a novel just a few short days ago.

 

DSC00563 (Large)

What kind of novel is floating through Outlaw’s head?Please fill me in when you find a good one…

 

All of that begrudgingly brings us to the movie itself, which just happened to be released mere hours after I finished the last pages of the novel.  It was only fitting that I attended opening weekend of the film with none other than my friend Erika, who introduced me to the book in the first place.  Despite our eagerness to see the adaption, we both had our reservations as well.

 

The main worry on our minds was how the two-minds-in-one shtick was going to come across.  In my honest but severely overrated opinion, it seemed the only way to go about it would be a voice-over  and that was going to be tough to pull off successfully.  It must have been a special occasion because I couldn’t have been more right… in both instances.

 

movie-saoirse-ronan-host-melanie

One more person in my head and I can cross Ménage à Trois of the ol’ bucket list.

 

From the first line of Melanie’s voice-over, I sank a little in my seat with the thought that this was going to be a VERY long 140 minutes. It just gave me the feeling that Saoirse Ronan (Melanie Stryder / Wanda) was recording her lines over a cell phone somewhere in a supermarket without having the luxury of seeing the scene she was acting in.  Of course I’m kidding, and I give her the benefit of the doubt to her in that, presumably, voice-over work is much tougher to pull off when not actually acting in the live scene in that moment.  Then again, what the hell do I know?  Actually, what I do know is, Ronan did a fine job representing the ever-present persona of Wanda to what you would imagine from the book.

 

Host Second (Large)

I came, I saw and a Soul ate my brain…AND my popcorn!

 

The other major female presence of The HostDiane Kruger (the Seeker), delivered a much meaner and sexier variation of the novel’s version of the Soul with a vengeance.  Keep this between us – and the rest of the internet – but in a weird worm-loving way, her performance was kind of a turn-on.

 

Seeker-Host 2

Note to self: Remember to fire my agent.

 

As for the other main players of The Host, let’s just say they didn’t fare so well.  With the exception of William Hurt, who played Uncle Jeb to a virtual T, the male contingent of the cast left a lot to be desired… like pretty much everything. Max Irons (Jared Howe) and Jake Abel (Ian O’ Shea) may have tried in earnest, but ultimately they failed to deliver any more emotion than a box of pine cones.

 

uncle-jeb-The Host

At first glance, I thought the Dude survived the alien apocalypse! White caucasion anyone?

jared-ian

Believe it or not, the one on the LEFT is Jeremy Iron’s son.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lack of decent acting aside, my biggest problem with The Host had to do with its handling of the book’s timeline.  Where the book’s progression takes place over the course of several months, the movie seems to take the route of cramming the events of the source material into a matter of a few days.  Regrettably, this makes the development of complicated relationships and the change in the human resistance group’s perspective on Melanie’s alien hitchhiker, Wanda, just plain unbelievable.

 

Sacrifices

And in this case, it was half the book.

 

In keeping with that thought, The Host felt like it wasted precious time on car chases and helicopter searches, rather than it did on the more important elements of the story like Jamie’s illness, Wanda’s slow acceptance into the group, and the other dozen or so characters that got swept under the rug.

 

Jamie 560 at table

As with the other crucial book elements, poor Jamie was an afterthought.

 

Basically, the film attempted to cram 40 pounds of unnecessary manure into a 10 pound bag, when there was already about 30 pounds of source material to work with.  It was the movie equivalent of reading a cliff notes version of the novel that didn’t focus enough on the right notes.

 

Wanda-I love you-Host

“And whatever else happens, wait for the DVD.”

 

Much like my thoughts on Mrs. Meyer herself, I didn’t love the film adaption of The Host, but I didn’t completely hate it either.  It was interesting to see the attempt made to translate such a great book to the big screen, but in the end I walked away feeling indifferent about the movie and asked myself, what was the point?  In much the same way Wanda the wanderer meanders aimlessly through the desert to try and find Melanie’s loved ones, the film wanders too far away from what made the original material so enjoyable in it’s original written format.

 

Book Better

I’m fairly certain this is scientifically proven.

 

When it comes down to it, if you are interested in getting the full Host experience, I still whole-heartedly recommend the book.  It’s compelling storyline, twisted love quadrangle, and poignant view of the core of human nature are all present in the original material and bring to light the film’s inherent lack of soul.

 

2 Spurs

In keeping with that thought, The Host felt like it wasted precious time on car chases and helicopter searches, rather than it did[y1] 


 [y1]OR suggest: rather than focusing on the more important plot elements…

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  1. Why people still use to read news papers when in this
    technological world everything is accessible on web?

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