REVIEW: Mind games mar film version of 'Host'
Hollywood has always shown a fondness for adapting books into movies. Not only does this provide instant fodder for a script, but it guarantees a built-in audience. It also comes with some inherent problems, including cutting the story to fit a movie timetable and translating the characters from the images that readers create in their minds to the ones that appear on the large screen.
Director Andrew Niccol faced both problems with his film adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's “The Host.” He only successfully handles one of them.
Niccol — working with Meyer — managed to edit the 600-plus page book into a workable and interesting script about an alien invasion. The bodies of humans have been taken over by space travelers who look like neon caterpillars. Only a few humans have escaped. The aliens suggest this invasion is good, because it eliminated war and saved the environment. To humans, it means the loss of free will.
When an alien known as The Wanderer ends up in the body of the spunky Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan), another problem arises. Melanie's not ready to give up her identity, and she and the alien begin living a dual relationship.
Niccol's script blends the kind of lofty topics that are the heart of sci-fi productions with a complicated love story that's made Meyer's books so popular. The romance elements are even more complicated than her “Twilight” tale: Two guys (Max Irons, Jake Abel) are in love with one girl with two personalities.
Diane Kruger adds the key element of tension, playing The Seeker, an alien committed to tracking down humans.
It's the portrayal of the Melanie/Wanderer character that causes the biggest problems in the movie. Ronan's performance is out of this world. But despite her best efforts, the scenes where Melanie and The Wanderer argue in her head often come across as silly. It's the type of thing that works far better when it's read in a book.
The mental ping-pong match takes away from the nicely paced story, beautifully shot scenes and interesting acting performances — especially by William Hurt.
Rick Bentley reviews movies for The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.)
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.