Monday, April 8, 2013

Theatrical Review: The Host

Theater Date: April 7
Location: Pocono Movieplex
ShowTime: 1:30pm
Duration: 100 minutes (+4 trailers)
Party: 3

at long last, we got out to see this one. My aunt's doing so much better now than she was the week before, and as always, we had a "grand old time" just the three of us.

I mean, literally, the 3 of us. Nobody else was seeing that particular movie today, but the thumping around upstairs indicated that there were people in the theater.
The 4 previews won't take all that long to go into because I'd seen two already.
Ok, it was a different trailer for "Oblivion," but all I could say afterwards is for the degree of press they're doing for this movie, it'd BETTER be good.
We had another encounter with "City of Bones." The book series has been out for quite a while and frankly, I'm exhausted. My reading time is better spent.

Then two more
the sequel to that movie "Red," which I have yet to see, but my mom swears that it's a great movie. So maybe I'll check into it at some point. The sequel is also one we could wait to see when it premieres on cable.

and "Iron-Man 3," which looked absolutely AMAZING.
Anyone who knows me knows that the original more or less turned me into a Marvel movie fangirl and Robert Downey Jr. is my favorite actor. So most likely, it will be the next movie I go out to see. So much happened in the trailer that I just sat back and soaked it all in.

Immediately afterwards,
the main event began.

Director: Andrew Niccol (other credits include Gattaca and In Time)

Notable Cast:
Saoirse Ronan- Melanie Stryder/Wanda
Max Irons- Jared Howe
Jake Abel- Ian O'Shea
Diane Kruger- Seeker/Lacey
William Hurt- Uncle Jeb

As someone who read the book, unlike the majority of the film critics I, suspect, I thought they did a respectable job. I enjoyed every second of it.

Just to give a little background/synopsis of the story:

Souls are aliens that colonize other planets by taking residence in the planets' dominant species and through them, make the world a better place.
Layman [of layman's terms] might dub this scenario as "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," but with peace-loving aliens.

For example, with planet Earth, they take over the human population. Thanks to their technology, they can cure any/every disease so the only cause of death is old age. Because this is a very trusting species, currency is done away with and everyone can go to stores to take supplies as needed. And there is no conflict or competition (this is clearer in the book, which describes sitcoms with quick cheesy happy endings and sports with utmost politeness).

But like all utopias you find in literature, there's always a wrench in the works that makes you wonder if perfection really is the way to go.

Melanie is one of a few humans that have gone into hiding to resist being taken over by the invading species, resisting colonization and all that.
Unfortunately, the movie begins with her getting captured and the soul Wanderer (later abbreviated to "Wanda") is implanted in her head. But unlike the majority of the humans, whose consciousness fade away when the Souls take residence, Melanie refuses to disappear.
Throughout the first part of the movie, you hear her voice making snide and sarcastic remarks.

Saoirse plays off this duality extremely well and she is arguably the best young actor in the movie. I'm sure a lot of people would agree, but for different reasons:
a) because the majority of the cast is made up of unknowns and
b) she won hearts with films such as The Lovely Bones and Hanna

Seekers are individuals granted with the task of locating the remaining "wild" humans, so the one played by Diane Kruger, spends the first 20 minutes grilling Wanderer for details about the humans Melanie was on the run with; her lover, Jared, and younger brother, Jamie.

Obviously, there will come a point where the seekers suspect Melanie is a resisting host. Plan B is to relocate Wanderer, implant the Seeker in Melanie's head and dispose of her when they have the information they did.
Melanie & Wanderer join forces and make a run for it. Following some directions in Melanie's head, they go into the desert to locate Melanie's family and, they hope, Jared and Jamie.

After almost dying of dehydration, Melanie's Uncle Jeb, Aunt Maggie, Jared and a few other humans find her. Naturally, she repels them, not believing they can't trust her, but Uncle Jeb insists on taking her back.
This group of humans had made a community for themselves in a series of underground caves.
Jared wants nothing to do with her, but Jamie and Uncle Jeb plan on looking after her regardless of whether Melanie is still alive or not in her own head.

In the book to movie adaptation, it's a given that a lot of changes have to made and differences stem between the two.
The book is told in first person, so part of the film experience had to be spent on the other side of the coin: with the Seeker's tireless search for Melanie's body. I'd estimate that the movie spends 50% in either location. And because the film can only be so long, the progression of the plot had to be sped up and bits and pieces are cut out.

Aside from one or two dramatic points of the plot (namely, how the Seeker finally finds the human resistance on her own), the biggest negative I can derive in the adaptation is less characterization when it comes to Wanda. She is a Soul that had been to 8-9 different planets and is one of the species' biggest historians. The book's storyline initially places her at a university, teaching her people about life on other planets, rather than spending the first chunk of it entirely with the Seeker's ongoing interrogations.
She also takes the same place in the human community once they begins to gain their trust.

You get to know Melanie a lot better due to her feistyness and tenacity, but as far as anyone who hadn't read the book knows, Wanda is just another peace-loving Soul.

Meanwhile, my greatest pleasure of experiencing the film was watching Jake Abel as Ian, who later becomes Wanda's love interest.
[by the way, how is this for a complicated love triangle/rectangle? Melanie loves Jared, but flips out whenever he tries to kiss her because Wanda has her body. Wanda grows to like Ian, but of course Melanie flips out when they kiss because she doesn't feel that way about him]

Until now, I'd seen Jake in less "agreeable" roles.
In "Percy Jackson," he's an ally who reveals himself to be the bad guy, and in "I am Number Four," he plays a school bully who doesn't become amiable until the last 20 minutes of the movie.

Ian only dislikes Melanie in the first couple scenes he's in until he begins to sympathize with her and fall for her.

In a nutshell, I thought it was a really good adaptation of the book. It lacked detail in a couple places, twisted a few facts around, but it didn't take much from my overall enjoyment of it.

And if anyone who hadn't read the book is curious to see how it ends, I'll put it below.
But I would STRONGLY suggest anyone who plans to see it to read the book first.

Grade: A-

(spoilers ahead)

  • the Seeker is captured after she stumbles upon the human resistence. The Soul is removed and sent to a far-off planet, from which she won't return for hundreds of years. It is revealed, via her host Lacey, that she had spent YEARS resisting this particular Soul and that conflict fueled the Seeker's drive to deal with Melanie.
  • Wanda decides to return Melanie's body to her and because she fell in love with the people on this planet, she wants to sacrifice herself.
  • However, Jamie, Uncle Jeb and Ian refuse to let her and implant her in another human, who had no conscience when her previous Soul was removed.
  • The movie ends with a raid for supplies where the party is stopped by another that they suspect to be more seekers. Instead, they are a group of humans in their same situation with a Soul among them, and they hit it off as the camera pans away from the scene.

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