Movie Review: The Host

When I read ‘The Host’ back in 2008, at the time, books weren’t being optioned for adaptations like they are now. So after finishing that 619 page book, you were left hoping for a sequel to continue with this new prose Stephenie Meyer gave us that was worlds apart from ‘The Twilight Saga’. Then in 2009, word came that ‘The Host’ film rights had been acquired. Of course being a long time book reviewer and having many opportunities to talk to authors, you learn that just because film rights have been acquired, doesn’t mean you will actually see it hit the big screen. For a couple of years this felt like the case with ‘The Host’. Right after it was optioned, it became somewhat of a stalemate. Then in 2011 noise began to form around ‘The Host’ movie again. I can tell you being a long time fan of Stephenie Meyer, all her fans were on board and not planning on missing out on possibly the next big thing following ‘The Twilight Saga’. Meyer fans knew ‘The Twilight Saga’ was coming to its end, so having something else to focus on after ‘The Twilight Saga’ ended was welcomed with open arms. We began to see major spikes in sales of ‘The Host’ after the news that a movie was going to happen.

When everyone heard that Saoirse Ronan was cast as Melanie/Wanderer, they knew all the issues had been figured out. Andrew Niccol was back as director and everything was full steam ahead. Then a month later the release date for ‘The Host’ was announced, the world would finally see Stephenie Meyer’s science-fiction romance novel on the big screen on March 29th, 2013. It would be the world’s time to see if this novel that remained on the New York Times Best Seller list as #1 for 26 weeks, would mimic the book’s success on film.

As a reader and fan of ‘The Host’ novel, today I can say that the answer is Yes! ‘The Host’ movie adaption surpassed my expectations. I was able to see a pre-screening of The Host a couple of weeks ago and have had time to sit and ponder every detail and scene in the movie. In my personal opinion, Open Road Films, Stephenie Meyer, Andrew Niccol and everyone involved in creating this adaption was on point. It might have been the advantage of having the author of the novel on hand as a producer on the film or it might be the actors they cast to portray the characters in this best seller. Who ever it was, they did right by the book. It stayed as true to the novel as they could keep it so that it still worked for the big screen. Remember we are talking about a 619 page novel, you can’t expect every single detail to be acted out. When scripting the adaptation the writer is tasked with including as much detail from the book as they can while still creating something that will capture a movie going audience. While you can’t please everyone, I feel that fans of the novel will truly be pleased with the final movie product, I know I was. For those that have never read the book but still want to see the film, I believe you will find it just as entertaining. Heck, I’m sure a few will purchase the book after watching the film.

‘The Host’, for those of you not familiar with the novel, is based on Melanie Stryder. Melanie (Saoirse Ronan) is a 17 year old girl, that is left to care for herself and her younger brother Jamie (Chandler Canterbury). They have been on the run and in hiding for a long time. See, our planet Earth was invaded by “Souls”, they are an alien race that in our minds resemble a type of parasite. They don’t have bodies like humans do, so they take over by entering our bodies behind our necks and replace the human inside us. The Souls basically become us and as human we lose who we are. It’s as if that human life never existed, and now the Soul inside was reborn with a new human body ready to make its own memories. Melanie is one of very few humans left that have stayed hidden and not succumbed to the invasion. These humans have to live a life of hiding and always carefully planing their next movie. One night while Melanie is scrounging around a property for food and supplies, she runs into Jared (Max Irons). Neither can believe they have run into another human. Jared tells Melanie he has been alone for a long time and hasn’t seen a human being like them in a long time. This begins a new life for them both and soon they fall in love. They have managed to live together hidden out in an abandoned trailer in some fields. Then one day after seeing how close the Seekers got to where they had being staying, they went out looking for new shelter . Seekers are what you can call the law enforcement of the Souls. Their sole purpose is to keep everything running smoothly and seeking out the remaining human resistance When Seekers arrive at the location where Melanie and Jamie are, Melanie knows what she must do. She needs to protect her brother Jamie at all cost. She hides him and tells him to stay put no matter what. She then takes off in the opposite direction to attract the attention of the Seekers. Melanie knows she can not allow herself to be captured so she makes the choice to end her life in order to protect the knowledge of the remaining resistance and most importantly the ones she loves that is held in her mind, the mind that will be open to an implanted soul if she is captured. Instead of allowing her capture, she leaps out of a window many floors up and falls to what she believes will be her death. It turns out however that Melanie has a strong will to live because she did not die from the fall. The Seekers take her to their healers, the healers are able to repair all the damage caused by the fall. Then they place a Soul inside her. What Melanie always fought and sacrificed her life to prevent is exactly what happens.

The Soul that has been implanted inside of Melanie goes by the name of Wanderer (Saoirse Ronan). Wanderer has awakened in Melanie’s body and starts immediately to go to work. Her job is to help the Seekers find out where the remaining resistance are hiding out. Through her invasion of Melanie’s memories, the existence of Jared and Jamie and their relation to Melanie is revealed to the Seeker organization. Wanderer sits everyday trying to relay Melanie’s memories of Jared and Jamie to the main Seeker (Diane Kruger). Then out of the blue, Wanderer hits a wall when Melanie speaks to her. Melanie still exists inside her body, she did not die even after Wanderer took over. Wanderer tries to fight her mentally but its no use. Melanie is strong in both body and mind. Wanderer begins to listen, understand and even share Melanie’s feelings. So it explains the day Wanderer escapes and finds herself in the dessert needing to find Jared, Jamie and the rest. Melanie takes Wanderer out to search for them. Wanderer walked and walked for miles not realizing the human body needs water and rest, especially under the hot dessert dun. She passes out and eventually is found by Uncle Jeb (William Hurt), Aunt Maggie (Frances Fisher) and Ian (Jake Abel). They argue among themselves that she should be killed but Uncle Jeb refuses and they end up taking Wanderer to their hide out in the mountains. When Wanderer finally comes to, a new battle begins to see if she survives living with the humans or will Melanie be able to show enough of her humanity through Wanderer to keep her alive. Then to add to all that, Jared wants Melanie back and as strange as it seem, Ian starts falling for Wanderer. How will one body with two souls be able to divide itself? Is the threat of that Seeker over? Will she give up on her hunt for Wanderer? The different lives and journey that will be affected are either going to surpass or fail. The Host will keep you on your toes and holding your breath at these intense scenes and will make your heart skip a beat at the love stories that develop. You will enjoy this film from the beginning all the way to the last scene.

I recommend this film for all ages. Great date night movie to watch with your loved ones. If you are just going out with the girls, its a great flick to catch as your friends are sure to be swooning alongside you. Guys, brace yourself for all the chrome you will be awarded with when you see the Lotuses the Seekers drive. This movie is a win win. It has all the right thrills, chills and intensity to be liked by everyone.

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