Stephenie Meyer has earned a reputation for being quite a polarizing author, justifiably so. Droves of fans flock to buy her books and see her blockbuster films, while her teenaged romance themes and shallow narratives disgust others.
"The Host" follows the trail Twilight left behind exactly; only hopefully the pro-Meyer side of the argument is starting to see the error of their ways. This movie was absolute trash.
The story centers on Melanie Stryder, played by Saoirse Ronan, a typically attractive-but-plain teenager who finds herself living in a world where most humans have been indoctrinated by an alien species that takes over their bodies and lives through them. It’s a premise that is, admittedly, somewhat interesting, and piqued my interest when I watched the trailer. I thought perhaps Stephanie Meyer had gotten her foot in the proverbial door with her Twilight success, and was now going to experiment a bit.
Nope. I was wrong.
Meyer has changed in one way: The love triangle of Twilight has been replaced by a four-sided monster of teenage seduction, carried out by three bodies with two beings sharing one of them.
Yeah, I know.
Melanie herself spends most of the movie as a heavily echoed voice that bickers inside the head of her host body, shared by a being named Wanderer, which is an urchin – like being from another planet. Though it is Melanie’s body, she has to relinquish control to Wanderer, but still maintains some pull. The corny interactions between them lead to a few laughs – but I’m not sure they are intentional.
Through an in-head argument amidst partial-body takeover , Melanie forces Wanderer to break out of the office run by a group called The Seekers, a typically evil and Bond villain-esque organization tasked with finding human resistance groups by using the urchin things to search through people’s memories.
Without divulging any more of the specific plot (because it will only confuse you), things get messy for the pair when they end up within the human resistance camp run by Melanie’s gruff uncle.
Melanie’s former lover Jared, played by the handsome Max Irons, is understandably indifferent toward her when she returns. Those impregnated with the extraterrestrial beings have illuminated blue eyes, displayed with sometimes-straight, often-times-unaligned blue contacts on the actors. Jared’s cold reception leaves the door open for another well-kept, perfectly-haired gentleman named Ian, played by the also handsome Jake Abel, to move-in on Melanie, or Wanderer, or Melanie’s body, or whatever.
Childish fights, jokes and awkward shy glances ensue inside the ridiculously sized human colony, a set that looks like a museum exhibit crafted from cheap foam and brown paint.
But forget the plot. It’s a topic hard to get off of because of its absurdity, but get off of it. There’s a bigger issue; a larger monster. It isn’t the fact that the Seekers drive chrome-dipped Lotus’ exclusively, fly in chrome-dipped helicopters, or that every character has perfectly-maintained hair and makeup in the post-apocalypse. It isn’t that the quality of the dialogue is so poor that it makes a child’s book read like Dostoevsky, or that the emotion in the acting is as riveting as Ben Stein while sleeping. The problem is that people will pay to watch this; that it’s an acceptable product.
Meyer’s careless disregard for accurately displaying human emotion is a serious problem, especially considering that her work is viewed by millions upon millions of young, impressionable minds. Her constant glorification of shallow romance and disgusting love triangles or squares or rhombuses or whatever her next masterpiece will certainly have is a real threat to the development of our society.
I can look past the typical popcorn movie traits, like over the top action and overly beautified actors and set pieces, but I refuse to be disrespected by seeing humanity portrayed so childishly and naively. Meyer’s idea of what love is and what it’s like to be a teenager is appalling, and sadly I fear her view will actually begin to set in.
The men in her movies are always sort of rapey, the main girl is pretty and plain and love is cheap and interchangeable. It’s apparently cool to have multiple people lusting after you at all times, and when faced with the end of mankind, what could be more important than petty relationship troubles and jealousy?
As far as the film itself, it ends as you would expect. They all fall in love, Wanderer and Melanie find a sisterly ground to stand on and the men each get with the chick in the end (long story). All of this completely overshadows the somewhat interesting indoctrination plot, which is ruined by poor action sequences, forced scenes to get an emotional response and vomit-inducing acting.
I wonder if director Andrew Niccol, who directed the great film “Lord of War” and wrote “The Truman Show,” actually knew what he was signing up for. How much could they have paid him to make him sell his soul and helm something so juvenile? A substantial amount, I hope.
Stephenie Meyer needs to stop. The teenage market that drives her book and ticket sales needs to get older already, and then hopefully be replaced by a generation of thinking minds and common sense. The tagline for The Host reads, “Choose to
believe,” and I am left wondering, in what? The film’s attempt at demonstrating the strength of love when faced with immeasurable odds is a failure, because love doesn’t involve eyeliner-wearing and testosterone-driven men fighting over the body of a girl they once knew that is now possessed by their mortal enemy.
I, for one, choose not to believe, and hope others do the same. So long as films like this keep raking in millions, they will keep being force-fed down our throats. Leave the sci-fi genre to the experts, Stephenie, and stick to writing about lusty vampires, because at least people know what they are going to get with those books and films, and I can know to stay far, far away.
– Paul Edwards