Following the blockbuster "Twilight Saga" movie series that stretched over five films from 2008 to last November, author Stephenie Meyer's work is back on the big screen with a different tale with "The Host."
Whether the film will be embraced worldwide the way the "Twilight" films have been is yet to be seen, but the prospects are highly unlikely. One thing for certain is that the female lead is this one -- Oscar-nominated "Atonement" star Saoirse Ronan -- is infinitely more talented and appealing than the mopey, stonefaced Kristen Stewart, who somehow managed to slog her way through the vampire romance films without getting fired (she did win a Razzie, though).
Ronan stars as Melanie, one of the few survivors of a future alien invasion on Earth. But these aliens aren't little green men or the menacing 7-foot tall creatures you find in movies like "Independence Day" -- instead, they are sentient beings who enter the mind and erase the memories of their host bodies, and the only indication of their presence is the calm demeanor the luminescent eyes of the people they possess. The objective of their invasion is to live a peaceful, but very controlling existence.
The difference with Melanie, however, is that when she is captured and her mind is invaded, the alien race -- called "The Souls" -- haven't completely occupied her mind. Melanie, instead, fights back against her new alien persona, named Wanda (short for Wanderer), and tries to reconnect with a fellow human survivor and boyfriend, Jared (Max Irons) while her alien alter-ego falls for survivor Ian (Jake Abel).
See my review of the film on "KARE 11 News at 11" with Diana Pierce.
The target audience for "The Host" -- like the "Twilight Saga" -- is clearly 'tween to teen girls, and to that end, the movie achieves its objective. Again, like those vampire romance movies, there's a love triangle that's full of dreamy (to adults, dreary) romance, and hopes for a hunky dory (emphasis on the hunk) existence. The good thing is, "The Host" doesn't pour on the sap the way the last few "Twilight" movies did.
The main thing "The Host" has going for it is its unsettling atmosphere and ethereal feel. It doesn't possess a high creep factor, but there's definitely something off about alien occupants like The Seeker (Diane Kruger), a Soul agent pursuing Melanie/Wanda and ferret out the human resistance. Plus, unlike the "Twilight" movies, there's nothing fake-looking (er, the wolf pack) to distract you.
"The Host," rated PG-13, 3 stars out of four.
See the trailer for "The Host" below.
What other local critics are saying …
Chris Hewitt of the Pioneer Press hated the movie in his 1 star review, calling it "mopier and dopier" than the "Twilight" films.
Colin Covert was a little more kind in his 2 star review for the Star Tribune. He praised director Andrew Niccol's "slick presentation," but called Meyer's material "shallow" and says the movie "lacks a sense of danger and urgency."
Bring Me The News film critic Tim Lammers is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and annually votes on the Critics Choice Movie Awards. Locally, he reviews films on “KARE 11 News at 11” and WCCO Radio. As a feature writer, Tim has interviewed more than 1,000 major actors and filmmakers throughout his career and his work is syndicated nationwide.