The film version of Twilight author Stephenie Meyer’s 2008 bestseller The Host is a passable time-waster whose biggest sins are, unsurprisingly, identical to those of the Twilight franchise: clunky, florid writing and lead-footed filmmaking that clearly fears deviating from the source material, which Meyer’s avid fans consider holy writ.
The story has cinematic promise, as a race of electric caterpillars invades the earth, taking over nearly everybody (or should we say, every body), save a band of still-human rebels. The Host’s central crisis revolves around Melanie (Saoirse Ronan), a resistance fighter implanted with a new alien arrival called Wanderer. Melanie’s different than most human hosts; she don’t fade. The dual consciousness could be a fascinating artistic problem. A cranial Defiant Ones? A one-body/two-state solution?
Alas, director Andrew Niccol (S1m0ne, Lord of War) visualizes the scenario in the most hackneyed possible manner. Aliens: antiseptic white socialism. Humans: dirty mountain survivalists. The premise itself, meanwhile, becomes little more than a pretext for a chase narrative and a meat-puppet/glow-worm “Ebony and Ivory” reconciliation.
Granted. Ronan has fun with the robot-girl role, and Diane Kruger chews that antiseptic scenery as the Seeker alien who relearns hate. Mostly, though, The Host’s bland, interchangeable pretty-boy rebels (Max Irons, Boyd Holbrook, Ian O’Shea) threaten to subvert Meyer’s rah-rah humanist thesis. Alien implantation would probably help us tell these wax dummies apart.