wogma rating: Watch if you have nothing better to do (?)
Another Stephenie Meyer novel has been turned into a film; and if Twilight was polarizing in its love/hate for the series, Andrew Niccol’s The Host is likely to be almost universally regarded as one of the silliest films in recent times; competing and perhaps even beating David Dhawan’s murder of the classic Chashme Buddoor, if possible.Read more
The Host, based on a novel by Stephenie ‘Twilight’ Meyer and directed by Andrew Niccol, is easily one of the silliest films you’ll see all year. A sappy, puke-inducing romance set in a future where aliens have invaded Earth and have taken over the bodies of nearly every human being, save for a few. The only thing the film has even remotely going for it is that the visuals don’t tire you, even if nearly everything else about the film makes you want to pull your hair out.
The film tells us the story of Melanie, a human whose body is now host to an alien soul; that, by the way, is the modus operandi of these aliens. Except that the feisty Melanie is one of the rare humans who is able to fight the alien - an inner battle that occurs between two souls in one body. The reason for this? Didn’t I mention something about puke earlier?
One of the fundamental flaws in the film, one that anyone with even a quarter of a squid’s brain will wonder about, is why exactly we have a problem with these aliens. They are largely peace-loving, and an opening voiceover tells us that these aliens have actually done planet Earth a world of good; there is no violence at all, and the Earth is more beautiful than ever before.
In fact, the film is actually a celebration of the glorious faults of humankind. We are greedy, violent beings, who often succumb to carnal calls, who will invariably break the rules and who won’t think twice about putting loads of other human lives in danger, if it benefits us individually in some way. The ‘aliens’ are the exact opposite, not to mention the fact that they are far more technically advanced than us. Yet, somehow, the film tries to sell us the fact that humans deserve to rule the earth far more than these aliens do.
That apart, the romance aspect of the film is so inane, so absolutely silly, that all you want is for everyone in love in the film to die; a gruesome death. Unfortunately for us, that doesn’t seem to be the way Stephenie Meyer operates. I must confess, I’ve never watched or read anything of the Twilight series. And considering how it is a standing joke in pop culture, I’ve always wondered just how bad is Twilight any way. Well, if Twilight is even half as silly as The Host, I’m glad I stayed away from it.
What’s surprising is Andrew Niccol’s decision to direct this film. I’ve liked a number of his previous films, not just the ones he’s directed, but the ones he’s written as well. The former include cult hit Lord of War, the cerebral Gattaca, and even that guilty indulgence In Time, while the latter include films like The Terminal and The Truman Show, amongst others. He’s always seemed to have a fondness for films set in the future, and he’s almost always managed to make them reasonably convincing. The Host, however, is an unmitigated disaster.
It doesn’t help at all that not one of the characters and faces in the film appeal to you in any way. The way the characters have been written, and the performances of the cast - both are mostly bland. Only William Hurt and Diane Kruger from the supporting cast make any impact. Saoirse Ronan, who plays Melanie and who has to virtually anchor the film throughout, tries her best, but really comes up quite short.
Even for a sci-fi film, The Host is filled with so many logical inconsistencies and screenplay problems that you’re all but waiting for the film to just get over as soon as possible, perhaps so that you can flush away the experience of the film at the earliest. In fact, if there really existed an alien race like the one in the film and if they ever saw The Host, they’d probably break their own non-violent ethics and shoot themselves in the head.
This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.
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