By Tess Church (Australia)
The film The Host, starring Saoirse Ronan was based on a novel written by author, Stephenie Meyer who is famous for her Twilight novels. Please don’t groan just because this movie was based on a Stephenie Meyer novel. At first I thought it would be a typical boring love story that would sheepishly repeat the mainstream. However, as much as I hate being wrong, I was. The movie was surprisingly exceptional. As a lover of Sci-Fi and romance, I really enjoyed this film.
The Host is about how Earth has been invaded by aliens, but not your typical green, long fingered kind. This alien race invades by using a human body as their host and takes the memories of that person. This story is about a girl named Melanie (Saoirse Ronan) who is a part of the human resistance and is amongst the last few humans who have not been taken over by the alien threat. However, after a short chase she is caught and assimilated. The plot follows Melanie’s conflicted mind as she is still consciously thinking but her brain has also been invaded by Wanderer (also known as Wanda for short).
We are shown that Wanderer is one of the few aliens that is conflicted about taking over the human race. You can clearly see that there are a lot of conflicted and confused characters in this story. Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that Melanie is in love with Jared (Max Irons) and Wanda falls in love with another human, Ian (Jake Abel). So it’s not your typical context for a love story but there are still the conflicting love interests. The story is definitely about love and also has themes of strength and faith.
For starters, the acting was realistic and over all fantastic. Saoirse Ronan, who played Melanie, brilliantly pulled off being a conflicted alien but also showed that she was still human. She also showed her growth as a character throughout the movie. I’ve previously seen Ronan play the lead in The Lovely Bones where she also shows off her acting talent. The handsome Max Irons, who I first saw in Red Riding Hood played Jared. I felt that Jared’s character wasn’t fully explored, I suppose it was because the story wasn’t focused on him but Irons well executed the character and gave a believable performance of being in love with Melanie.
The other main focus in the love triangle well, more of a square, was Ian played by the incredible Jake Abel who I have previously seen in Supernatural, I Am Number Four and The Lovely Bones. He has a natural presence on camera and is just an all-around amazing actor. His character showed true passion for Wanda and one part which I particularly enjoyed was when he was holding one of the ‘souls’, a recently extracted alien creature and he shows happiness and curiosity. That was just good writing and acting, it felt very real. So overall the casting was remarkable and the actors were realistic and convincing.
The directing was also brilliant, thanks to New Zealand-born director Andrew Niccol who truly showed the beautiful scenery of New Mexico and executed the right angles to make the scenes work fantastically. My one criticism of the movie was that some of the costumes were a bit strange. The movie didn’t give us a time frame except that it was modern because of the cars that were used. Whenever we saw the alien populated city it was like a throwback to the 50’s and 60’s. I’m not too sure what that was all about, but that didn’t change the fact that it was an excellent flowing movie.
The little things I enjoyed were when Wanda had taken over Melanie; they gave Melanie a voice over so we could hear what was happening inside her extremely crowded head. This was obviously done to give the audience a better understanding of what was happening, but still I thought it was clever. I also really felt Wanda and Ian’s relationship forming, which just comes down to good acting from Abel and Ronan.
There are a lot of movies, books and TV series that are about aliens invading earth and taking over. One movie I can think of off the top of my head is The Invasion starring Nicole Kidman where aliens use human bodies as hosts. The Host is one of these stories but focuses on more of the love aspect. Whether you will like this movie or not will depend on whether you like romance and love stories. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything in there for the men. Car chases, guns and might I just add -an awesome head shot. I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone looking for a romantic story with a sci-fi twist. The underlying love/romance story in a different context was refreshing and enjoyable.