When a writer/director like Niccol (Gattaca, In Time, The Truman Show) was willing to tackle The Host, I was willing to dive in, despite the odor of Twilight that clung to the roots of it all. I had heard that Meyer’s The Host actually had some good ideas and was an interesting book. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m just a science fiction masochist this week.
The ideas in The Host are indeed interesting, even if the movie itself focused on only part of the issues raised in the book and dodged some of the more challenging situations that could have been raised. However, the pacing and the action are all somewhat weak and without a lot of underlying tension to sustain it. It made for a very long two hours.
The cast, at least, knew how to sell what little they had to work with. Ronan (Hanna, The Lovely Bones) works hard to hit her marks. To some degree she gets there, but she doesn’t quite have the presence in this film to command the screen and drive the story on her own. Given it is her story utterly, this starts the movie at a deficit. Kruger (The Bridge), while strong in some aspects, comes across as unstable in a way that makes her ability to be in command questionable. The role required a real tightrope, but I am unconvinced she navigated it well. While Hurt added some nice strength and solidity to the story, Fisher was just lost in this film, sadly. Frankly, the love interests and other characters were pretty forgettable: pretty boys and cute kids that served their purposes well, but no more than that (and that was their only purpose).
Ultimately, this is more a romance, again trading on its Twilight roots, than science fiction. Which isn’t to say that science fiction can’t have romance, but this felt more like it lost focus on the core of its story in order to provide reasons for kissing and longing looks. It would have been better served focusing on the intriguing and complicated ideas, allowing the romantic aspects to float out of that instead. It isn’t a horrible film, and it certainly isn’t an uninteresting conceit, but it also wasn’t what I’d hoped seen done with it. I leave it to you to decide if the time is worth it for yourself.