Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Host

April 4, 2013

Caught between two big box-office hits over the weekend (local "It Takes a Man and a Woman" and Hollywood "GI Joe Retaliation") not too much was heard about this film in both print nor online media. That made me even more curious to catch it.  I have not read the book. But I have to admit, it was the author's name that intrigued me to watch this movie. Stephenie Mayer, of course, is very famous for her Twilight books, the writing of which I am not exactly a fan. But I am curious about what other stories she is capable to telling us, so I felt I had to check out "The Host."

"The Host" is a sci-fi movie set in a future when the Earth was in its most perfect state, but alas, it was because an alien race had possessed the bodies of nearly everyone on the planet. As in other alien invasion films, there is still that small pocket of human resistance fighting the situation. The story begins when one of the key members of this human resistance force, Melanie Strider, was severely injured in a chase with the alien seekers. Her mutilated body was  healed and given an alien being who called herself "Wanderer." However, Melanie's mind remains alive, and continues to rebel against her alien parasite, who turned out to be of a rather kind and compliant nature. Melanie's family and friends felt drawn to her, calling her "Wanda", yet were at a loss whether to trust this new Melanie or not, as the alien seekers close in on their secret lair in the American outbacks.

The sci-fi aspects were generally well-presented with cool computer graphical effects. It was just too bad there was too little background told about the alien race itself and where they came from and why. The shiny futuristic sets and props, as well as the breathtaking desert setting, were enhanced by the vibrant cinematography. The action scenes were only few but well-executed. Being written by Meyer, romance scenes were aplenty and could really be cheesy and corny many times, especially those that pertain to kissing and slapping. I literally groaned in those painful scenes.

The  talented lead actress Saoirse Ronan was impressive, as she makes the incredible conflict of two beings living and arguing inside a single body actually believable.  She has certainly matured and improved a lot from her Oscar-nominated debut role in "Atonement."  The much-missed William Hurt was likewise remarkable in the role of her benevolent Uncle Jed .  The child (Chandler Canterbury) playing Melanie's kid brother Jamie was very good. Their tender scene in the cave of coal worms was very touching. It was also good to see "Titanic" mom Frances Fisher again, this time as a gritty frontierswoman.  The two new young actors who played her rival boyfriends Jared and Ian (Max Irons and Jake Abel) were not known to me, but obviously cast to be the new "Edward" and "Jacob" fighting for Melanie's/Wanda's love. 

Overall, this was quite an entertaining absorbing film, which is unusual for me to say since I do not really like love story movies. I did not expect to like it, but I did.  Above the shallow romance theme, there was a nobler theme in there of humanity and harmony that pervades above all.  And yes, Stephenie Mayer does have a much better story here than she did in the four books of the Twilight Saga.

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