This Stephenie Meyer-adapted sci-fi has some good ideas let down by dull scripting and wooden acting
Whoever decided to combine the dubious talents of author Stephenie Meyer and writer-director Andrew Niccol should never eat lunch in this town again. Both have form in coming up with intriguing, high concept storylines: an adolescent human falls in love with that literary icon of repressed sexuality, the vampire (Twilight); a producer digitally creates his perfect leading lady (S1m0ne); in a future where we die at 25, time becomes the new currency (In Time). Unfortunately, neither is blessed with the ability to transfer these ideas into credible artforms, so having Niccol adapt and direct Meyer's The Host - the story of an alien parasite who struggles with the identity and desires of her host - is a match made in hell.
Saoirse Ronan, so watchable in Hanna and The Lovely Bones, is given the thankless task of playing both the alien Wanderer and host Melanie, the latter via an excruciatingly irritating internal monologue. United in Melanie’s body, the duo hook up with the human resistance movement, which counts Melanie’s boyf Jared (the incredibly-named Max Irons) and his rival Ian (Jake Abel) as members. Together, they struggle to figure out their romantic entanglements while fighting the tyranny of the alien force.
Except that, one rogue agent aside, the alien force seems utterly benign. Wanderer is pretty quick to see things from Melanie’s point of view, and unlike, say, the Commie-inspired murderers in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the whole race seems to act as a force for good on Earth. By the end of the film, we’re left wondering if aliens and humans could peacefully cohabit were it not for the reactionary, change-fearing resistance faction.
Sadly, interesting questions of this nature are shunted aside in favour of teen sitcom-level dialogue, wooden acting, snogging-in-the-rain flashbacks and ludicrously chrome-plated alien racecars (because, y’know, they’re futuristic and stuff). We can only wait hopefully for the day when a more contemplative presence takes possession of Meyer and/or Niccol and starts putting their good ideas to better use.
General release from Fri 29 Mar.