A few years ago, when I first got hands on Stephanie Meyer’s Sci-Fi adventure The Host, I was thrilled; the story of Melanie Stryder and the soul that occupies her body was both original and sensational. When I heard that it would hit the big screen, I was curious to see how the fictional world I’d created for myself would play out through a director’s eyes. I was, however, a bit disappointed with the outcome of the film.
Not only is the plot-line of Meyer’s novel so much more complicated than what the movie shows (how exactly can one condense a 600 page book into 2 hours?), but most of the book goes on inside the main character’s head, and a voice-over is hardly the way to settle this difference.
In the book Meyer creates a futuristic society overrun by “souls”, worm-like creatures inserted into human beings, taking not only their bodies but their memories as well. This Earth is safer, kinder, and seemingly better than the war-stricken planet it had been before. One particular soul, Wanderer, is inserted into Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan), a resistant 20-year old whose entire life is dedicated to the safety of her younger brother, Jamie, and her lover, Jared. There are risks in putting this soul (though it is one of the most experienced) into such a resistant host, and immediately Wanderer is aware of these malfunctions. Instead of fading away like she should, Melanie remains a vigilant presence in the back of her mind.
Thus begins Wanderer’s slow submission to Melanie’s desires. Melanie bombards Wanderer with memories, expressing her longing to reunite with Jamie (Chandler Canterbury) and Jared (Max Irons). However, there is—as always—something standing in the way: the Seeker (Diane Kruger), a persistent soul intent on chasing Wanderer to the ends of the earth to find the last of the human resistance.
When Uncle Jeb (William Hurt) finds Wanderer in the desert and brings her back to his home (a huge and naturally formed cavern), Wanderer encounters the throng of humans that has survived the invasion of the souls. Jeb is the only thing stopping the others from tearing this intruder apart; he keeps Wanderer prisoner rather than kill her, perhaps hoping for an answer to fall out of the sky. It seems that too much time is spent developing the first half of the movie, and what results is a rush to wrap everything up towards the end. Soon the other humans become accustomed to their visitor and even start calling her “Wanda”. Ian (Jake Abel) is defending and protecting Wanda, when just a few days prior he’d had his hands clasped around her throat. One hardly has the time to really like any of the characters, (except maybe Jeb and Jamie, both well-casted) because everything is happening so quickly. Some of the most significant scenes were cut, replaced by things that didn’t even happen in the novel.
This movie, in comparison with Meyer’s other films, was much more bearable and admittedly casted better (luckily we encounter no Kristen Stewarts), though I personally wouldn’t have chosen such a fragile-looking actress as my Melanie. Meyer did stay true to some of her favorites (infamous love triangles, predictable happy endings), but The Host is hardly comparable to Twilight. Luckily there is still some hope out there for fans: Meyer has hinted at a sequel. But if there’s anything I took away from this movie, it’s that stories like this are definitely meant to be read, not seen. Score: 5/10.
Nataly Capote / Chief Copy Editor