*This is written for a newspaper. Please ignore formalities, my fellow bloggers (:
A bar was set, and it was set very high. This said bar happened to elevate so profusely for two reasons. Firstly, Stephanie Meyer’s “Twilight” saga precedes it, and secondly, it is based off a book, thus adding a level of expectation from the public, and more specifically, the readers.
“The Host,” based off of Stephanie Meyer’s latest best-selling novel, opened in theatres on March 29 of this year, and was expected to be a huge debut. Followers of the “Twilight” series and avid literary fans flocked to theaters in heavy anticipation for their beloved characters and their stories to come to life on a twenty five by fifty five ft. screen. I was one of those girls.
I’ll be honest. I loved Twilight. Though I hardly admit it to anyone, I suffered the infamous “’Twilight’ Lapse,” a time in which all my senses were solely focused on the pages of the books, and even today, I can only recall the memory of the excessive turning of pages and the simmering angst within my chest. I’m sure there were other things going on around me at the time, though I wouldn’t be able to say. Now, I will admit, Stephanie Meyer’s “Twilight” series has hardly any depth; however, it definitely fulfilled the values within my Romantic mindset.
I’m positive I enjoyed “The Host” for the exact same reasons.
“The Host” is set sometime in the distant future, during a time where the Earth has been invaded by an alien species. Instead of being the stereotypical tyrannical, three-legged, one-eyed man-eaters with nothing on their agenda but flesh and blood, they are depicted as small jellyfish-like creatures who inhabit human bodies, and use them as hosts, hence the title. When a human has been taken over by “a soul,” one can only tell by the bright circle of light around the pupils in the eye.
An old soul, nicknamed “Wanderer,” takes over Melanie Stryder’s teenage body and is used by the “Seekers” to locate a small alliance of humans by way of Melanie’s memory. However, Melanie, being stronger than most humans, fails to abandon her body and her consciousness. Melanie begins to fight back by use of loud protestations directed at Wanderer, who is forced to weed through the mind of this angsty human girl who refuses to make anything easy.
However, Melanie, played by Saoirse Ronan, convinces Wanderer, also played by Saoirse Ronan, into leaving the Institution where the Seekers are keeping “them,” and so begins the ever-growing friendly alliance between Melanie and Wanderer. Big surprise.
Speaking of big surprises, like “Twilight,” “The Host,” has a love triangle. You might have thought a werewolf and a vampire wanting the body, excuse me, heart of a human girl was complicated. Well, Stephanie Meyer, being a fan of awkward relationships may have arguably made the word “complication” a bit more advanced.
Jared Howe, played by Max Irons (yum), is a young man Melanie meets while on the run from “Seekers.” It’s no coincidence that they fall in love. They kiss, they talk, sex is implied, and everything is perfect, until Melanie is taken my Seekers and Wanderer is put into her body.
Ian O’Shea, played by Jake Abel, is introduced to us a bit farther into the book, and to make a long plotline short; Ian falls in mutual love with Wanderer. Well, that would be all well in good if it weren’t for the fact that Melanie is still very much in love with Jared, who doesn’t like Ian kissing on his girlfriend’s body, who is actually sharing a body with another being that wants to make out with Ian all the time because they totally love each other. It’s just so complicated. Well done, Stephanie Meyer. You’ve managed to bewilder us yet again.
Saorise Ronan really did a fantastic job portraying both Melanie and Wanderer. It was corny at first hearing the distant, echoed voice of Melanie fighting in protest against the peaceful mind of Wanderer, but after a while, I got used to it. All the actors and actresses did a swell job in their roles, and I have no complaints with the casting.
Max Irons as Jared is angry for the majority of his screen time. Who can blame him? His girlfriend’s body isn’t hers anymore. I don’t need to specify what this would mean for him.
Irons plays an exceptional angry boyfriend, and never once looks ugly. I may be obsessed with him, but for the reader’s sake, I promise not to let it bias my opinion on the movie.
Jake Abel was fine as Ian. I wasn’t unimpressed and I wasn’t impressed, either, which I think can apply to my reaction to the movie as a whole.
I was satisfied with it as an adaptation, but I wasn’t in tears over its perfection. Yes, “The Hunger Games” movie adaptation was so perfect that I cried.
I was disappointed with certain facets of the movie, such as scenes and lines left out. In the book, there are two soccer games in which Meyer sets up a beautiful, friendly atmosphere where Wanderer can finally breathe after being treated so cruelly by the humans. I was ecstatic to see these scenes come to life on the big screen, but neither of these games made it into the movie.
Lines spoken by Ian and Jared were left out; lines which I had smiled and giggled at while reading the book.
On a more positive note, the cavern where the resistance lives is depicted perfectly in the movie. The rooms are huge, spacious, and claustrophobic, just as I imagined them to be in the book. The wheat field is a perfect representation of the field in the book, so I applaud director Andrew Niccol for that.
Something I discovered is that I didn’t actually realize how ridiculous the book is until seeing the movie, and reading other reviews. The plot has huge potential and Stephanie Meyer only captured a part of that potential. Like with “Twilight,” Meyer focuses too heavily on the love triangle, or in this case, the love square, as if she wanted the sap to run the entire plot of the book. In my humble opinion, that’s no way to write a novel.
Like the book, the movie is painfully slow, relying on the actions of Ian, Jared, Wanderer, and Melanie, who, instead of fighting for a cause, can’t decide who to kiss, how to kiss, when to kiss, and what to do while not kissing. There is moment in the movie/book where Melanie’s voice has disappeared from Wanderer’s mind, and to get her back, Wanderer asks Ian to kiss her. The logic here entails the fact that maybe Melanie’s disgust with Ian’s kisses will force her out of the realm of darkness. Well, she doesn’t come back after the kiss, so Ian retrieves Jared to try. Jared makes out with Wanderer (aka the body of his girlfriend) for a bit, and lo and behold, Melanie awakens to shove Jared away. Thank God two hot boys were available to make out with when all hope seemed lost. What would Melanie, or Wanderer, have done without the infamous love square? Well, according to Stephanie Meyer’s literary equation, there would be no plot.
I’m not being fair. “The Host” wasn’t a bad read. It was actually pretty enjoyable, and personally, the love square scenes stay the most prominent in my mind. However, I wouldn’t recommend this to the male population, or to anyone looking for a reputable novel or movie in which to find significant logic. To all those Romantics out there, I say, grab a tub of ice cream, read the drama as it quadratically unfolds, then go watch the movie, but leave the tub of ice cream at home. That’s not permitted in the theatres.