Susan Granger’s review of “The Host” (Open Road)
Best-selling author Stephanie Meyer (“Twilight Saga”) must be deeply disappointed with this adaptation of her love story set in the future, when Earth is occupied by seemingly benign extraterrestrials, or Souls, that erase the minds of their human hosts, leaving their bodies intact and their eyes crystalline blue. The Souls direct everything toward peace and the common good. As a result, war, hunger and violence have been eradicated and money is useless. Everything is available in this utopia, so stealing is senseless. And the environment has been healed.
“Our world has never been more perfect,” intones the profound opening narration.
But feisty Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan) is one of the last surviving humans, defying the body-snatchers and risking her life to free those whom she loves: Jared (Max Irons, real-life son of Jeremy Irons), Ian (Jake Abell), her younger brother Jamie (Chandler Canterbury), her Uncle Jeb (William Hurt) and Aunt Maggie (Frances Fisher), living in a large cave in Arizona. Meanwhile, an obsessed Seeker (Diane Kruger) – a.k.a. enforcer – is following her tracks, determined to wipe out the last of the guerilla Resistance.
Scripted and directed by Andrew Niccol, it’s absurdly silly, slow-paced and devoid of action – with most of the conflict occurring inside Melanie’s head, resulting in campy dialogue like: “This body is mine!” “I hate you! If only I could hurt you.”
It’s a shame to squander the talent of 18 year-old Irish actress Saoirse Ronan (“Hannah,” “Lovely Bones”), who does double-duty, playing two roles. One is a human and the other is Wanderer, nicknamed Wanda; two souls coupled together in one body. One self wants to take the other over. The other resists. Inevitably, eventually, in one suspenseful scene, one sacrifices the other so one of them can live.
It’s also bewildering how Andrew Niccol, the sci-fi aficionado who created provocative concepts like “Gattaca” and “The Truman Show,” could mastermind such a parasitic mess.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Host” tumbles to a tedious, talky 3, boring the audience into torpor.