Directed by Andrew Niccol
Based on the book by Stephanie Meyer
Starring Saoirse Ronan
Runtime 125min. - Rated PG-13
1.5 Stars (out of 4)
The idea of having two minds in one head has fueled countless sci-fi movie plots. Many of those films were low-budget horror and/or comedy. With "The Host", Stephanie Meyer has shown why the premise doesn't belong in a big budget film, at least not in one geared towards tween romance.
The plot revolves around an alien race that appear as shiny blue critters that look like they came from a deep sea documentary. These critters are then placed into the brain of humans where they take over the body and have access to the human's memories. But when one of these things is put into our resistant hero Melanie, it finds out humans won't go down easy.
To me, the entire setup presents a problem. Maybe this is addressed in the book, or maybe I missed it in the film, but how did this invasion start? It apparently takes a surgeon with other-worldly medicine to implant a critter into a human, yet the critters have absolutely no physical skills of their own. They travel from planet to planet in little chrome pods until they're opened and implanted by one of their kin. So how did the first one take place? Some human found a little pod and opened it, saw a shiny blue critter and thought, "hey, it'd be cool if I put this in my brain.", and then he did surgery on himself? Seems unlikely. Maybe they'll address this chicken and egg issue in the sequels, as if I care.
There's some really nice visual effects and a few cool sci-fi elements in the film. The human survivors live in an series of beautiful canyons and caves with underground water sources. There's a field of wheat that's grown with a group of mirrors that amplify sun-light coming from a small hole in the cave ceiling. Also, the aliens apparently have a real affection for chrome. All of their government-issued vehicles are covered in the stuff. This brings up another question. The aliens claim to be completely honest; no lying, no violence, no crime. So why does their government have such well-trained law enforcement?
The few good things I mentioned in the last paragraph are only briefly featured. It's the awful romance angle that gets all the screen time. Here's how it works. Two girls inhabiting the same body are attracted to two different guys. This means the alien in control of the body is constantly hearing objections from her brain buddy. "Hey don't kiss that guy. He's not my boyfriend!" and then, "Hey don't kiss that guy. He's my boyfriend!" and so on. The gimmick tires out quick. Bella, Jacob, and Edward are not impressed.
As seen in "Hanna", Saoirse Ronan is a brilliant actress. I look forward to watching her career explode. "The Host" however, is a total waste of her talents and beauty.I never tired of glimpsing her glowing visage on screen, thus one-half star has been added to my rating for pure hotness.
The two voices in one head concept should remain in b-movies. While "The Host" may offer some unintentional laughs, I'd suggest you see the comedies "Man with the Screaming Brain" and "The Man with Two Brains" to fully enjoy the schlocky potential of the gimmick.