Review: The Host ★★★☆☆

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The Host is a refreshing, thought-provoking, heart-warming film from director Andrew Niccol (the genius who wrote The Truman Show), based on the novel by Stephanie Meyer. Please resist the urge to roll your eyes. Because unlike the overrated, sparkly-vampire franchise which also comes from Meyer, The Host has a decent plot, a range of actors who play their parts well, and an overall message which is worth considering.

Set in the future, when the human race has been overrun with peaceful, parasitic aliens known as ‘souls’, the film follows a soul named Wanderer, who has been placed in the body of Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan), who is a member of the dwindling human resistance. It is hoped by the Seeker (Diane Kruger) that Wanderer will be able to use Melanie’s memories in order to find the resistance. However, Melanie is still present within her body, and resists Wanderer, instead influencing her to find the resistance so that she can be reunited with her boyfriend, Jared (Max Irons, pictured below left). Upon realising she has vanished, the Seeker pursues Wanderer, knowing that if she finds her, then she finds the resistance.
Max IronsHowever, this riveting, tense plot does not even last for half of the film. Instead, Niccol decides to invest much of the screen time into the complicated love triangle between Wanderer/Melanie, Jared and Ian (Jake Abel) which, despite being mildly amusing at times, does not seem necessary, and comes at the cost of turning the film from a serious survivor epic, into a typical problematic love story, which Meyer seems to have become quite renowned for. That said, at least this film displays the romantic development at a realistic rate, unlike the love-at-first-sight films which now plague our cinemas.

There is some excellent acting from Saiorse Ronan, who was tasked with portraying both head-strong Melanie and cautious, good-willed Wanderer. She achieves this with excellent contrast, her voice and stares seeming truly alien at times. Diane Kruger should also be commended for her performance, her detached, uncaring tone making her the perfect villain. But the star of the show has to be William Hurt, who plays Melanie’s uncle, Jeb Stryder. He adds some much needed comic relief to the film with his well-delivered, satirical lines.

My main criticism for this film would be the fact that, despite the brilliant acting and heart-racing plot, there is no climax. All the problems raised throughout the film seem to be thrown aside as quickly as possible. I’m sure I wasn’t the only person in the cinema fidgeting in my seat while anticipating a massive human vs alien fight. If you are also eager to see this, then The Host will not be the film for you. But I suppose that, seeing as what the film is trying to convey, it is fitting that there is no climax.

However, you should not let this put you off seeing this film. Between the romance, the suspense, the car chases and the alien technology, The Host is guaranteed to have something to excite everyone. I would highly recommend seeing this film, if not for the reasons I have previously outlined, then at least to show that a film does not need to have fighting and death to be exciting and moving. I’m sure everyone shall be eagerly anticipating a sequel.

The Host (2013), directed by Andrew Niccol, is distributed in the UK by Entertainment Film Distributors, Certificate 12A.

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