Friday 29 March 2013

Review: The Host

World of Blackout 77-Word Film Review

The Host Poster

The Host
Cert: 12A / 125 mins / Dir. Andrew Niccol

The film about the dystopian future, aliens inhabiting human bodies, the underground of human survivors and unilateral trust issues is quite good. I mean, it's made up of aspects that have been used countless times elsewhere, but it does work within its boundaries.

On the other hand, the film about 'oh, I don't know if I like this guy, or that guy, it's so difficult being an indecisive girl!' just made me want to punch someone in the mouth. It's not even constant; it just seems to get slotted in every 12 minutes or so, which is somehow worse. I understand that it's part of the reason the plot resolves itself, but it could have been handled so much better. Parts of the actual script infuriated me with their clichéd tweeness, but I can't deny that I was hooked and willing the story along (often with this script, you'll find yourself willing it along just to think about anything other than what's being said aloud).

All of The Bad Guys™ wear crisp white uniforms, live in minimalist cubes and make constant reference to The Puny Humans™, whereas the humans in question have essentially gone back to the earth, metaphorically and literally as they've developed an subterranean farm to go with their rounded group of stereotypes. There's an efficient amount of psychological button pushing to ensure you don't side with The Puny Humans™ completely, but you're also frequently reminded that The Bad Guys™ are exactly that. A parable for immigration? From anyone else, maybe, but doubt this goes that deep.

I know, so far it sounds awful, doesn't it? Well, a massive hat-tip goes to Saoirse Ronan who manages to carry the whole thing so ably. Much of the film consists of watching her talk to herself as Melanie/Wanda (the human/alien segments of her brain), and as incredible as this sounds, not only does she pull it off with ease, it's actually one of the highlights of the film. Given how pedestrian the whole thing should be, she really is outstanding. I wanted the relationship between the aliens and human hosts explored more thoroughly, but I don't know if the lack of that is down to Meyer's novel or Niccol's screenplay.

So, is Roman outstanding enough to make the film great? Sadly not. Diane Kruger puts in a solid turn as Melanie/Wanda's nemesis, Seeker, but it's not enough to save it from comfortable mediocrity. As is so often the case with this 'genre'*1, it's ideal for audiences who haven't seen a lot of sci-fi. Call me snobby if you want, I'll only agree with you.

The bottom line: Saoirse Ronan saves this, completely.
It's Bodysnatchers for the Twilight generation, but give them a break, everyone's got to start somewhere…

Is the trailer representative of the film?
That one's representative of the worst aspect of the film. Does that help?

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
About half the time.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
In the end, yes.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Will I watch it again?
Probably not. Unless I want to play catchup before a sequel.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?

And because you won't be happy until I've given it a score...
It's a weak 5, but a 5 nonetheless.

*1 By which I mean, Twilight, Hunger Games, I Am Number Four, you know the kind of thing.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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