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  Host, The Here Comes The Neighbourhood
Year: 2013
Director: Andrew Niccol
Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Diane Kruger, Max Irons, Jake Abel, William Hurt, Frances Fisher, Chandler Canterbury, Scott Lawrence, Marcus Lyle Brown, Boyd Holbrook, Lee Hardee, Mustafa Harris, Raeden Greer, Phil Austin, Stephen Rider, Emily Browning, Bokeem Woodbine
Genre: Science Fiction, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: It is the near future and Planet Earth has been successfully invaded by a race of ancient beings which take over the bodies of humans and live in their minds, often eliminating any thoughts and memories of their hosts entirely as they exist in a Utopia where there are no wars, everyone is civil and conflict is nonexistent because all the aliens get along with one another. Which would be fine, but humanity has no say in this, and there are a few tiny pockets of resistance left which have remained uninfected by they extraterrestrials. Take Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan), for example...

Say what you like about Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga, if nothing else they proved that the fantasy genres were not the sole preserve of teenage boys - teenage girls could get their own fiction too, and if anyone else was curious enough to investigate then the more the merrier. Certainly the merrier for Meyer's bank account, and a whole bunch of young adult novels became the latest big thing in the publishing industry, taking their cue from the monster popularity of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. Film adaptations were the next obvious step, and those examples were big hits, as was Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games.

However, just as studios were hoping that versions of YA successes were a licence to print money, there were some unavoidable flops when the audience were not so happy with the way their preferred reads were translated into another medium. Surprisingly, Meyer's follow up to Twilight, The Host, was one of those underperformers, in spite of many fans believing it was a better novel than anything she had penned before; somehow it just didn't click with audiences, and with no sequel written in book form at the point the movie had been released, questions were raised about the viability of a franchise developing.

Plotwise, it was a fifties sci-fi flick given the starry-eyed romance treatment, with such titles as Invasion of the Bodysnatchers or It Came from Outer Space brought to mind in the premise, if not the execution. One issue was that when Melanie was taken over by Wanderer, her new alien overlord, her personality was strong enough to endure, which led to campy scenes of Ronan essentially arguing with herself, one voice dubbed onto the action (Melanie) and the other spoken (Wanderer, renamed Wanda for ease of reiteration). If you could get past that, what remained was a love triangle where each personality is desired by two separate but interchangeable hunky blokes, Jared (Max Irons) and Ian (Jake Abel).

Guided by Melanie, Wanda turns rebellious and ends up at a back to nature outpost of humanity where her unseen pal tells her not to reveal their dual nature, a development apparently present to stretch out the storyline longer than necessary. Melanie's younger brother Jamie (Chandler Canterbury) discovers the secret, but before all is revealed she and Wanda take a few not very gentlemanly knocks from selected male characters, even those who she contrives to get into major kiss-up situations with later on - and Meyer wonders why there was so much sadomasochistically-flavoured Twilight fan fiction. Otherwise, The Host was sleekly attractive, as would be expected from director Andrew Niccol whose plots may let audiences down but he knew how to keep the imagery interesting, yet Ronan was stuck playing the wishy-washy exterior of Wanda for the most part which tended to bring down potential excitement levels to a medium-paced plod when humans decide they like her; no matter that Diane Kruger was the frosty baddie tracking the heroines down, as love conquered all. Music by Antonio Pinto.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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