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The Host  : Not quite welcoming
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Friday, April 19, 2013
Science fiction adventure
Andrew Niccol
Saoirse Ronan, Diane Kruger, Jake Abel, Max Irons, William Hurt
Based on Stephenie Meyer’s book, here comes another aliens vs humans drama, but without the usual spaceships and unimaginable special effects which makes a welcome change. When mankind is under attack from an unseen enemy that threatens to take over their bodies and erase their memories, a young girl will do anything to protect her kid brother and boyfriend.

The plot: Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan) miraculously survives while trying to escape from a Seeker (Diane Kruger) by jumping out of a window. But the Seeker injects a soul into her body called Wanderer. Melanie tricks Wanderer into tracking her little brother Jamie (Chandler Canterbury), boyfriend Jared (Max Irons) and Uncle Jeb (William Hurt) to save them from the Seekers. But Wanderer falls in love with another human, Ian (Jake Abel) and to have a happy ending with Jared, Wanderer does the impossible.

The good: Saoirse Ronan is outstanding as Melanie the Host and Wanderer the soul, especially when she successfully portrays the dilemma between siding with Melanie or with Wanderer. Playing a sort of a double role by dramatically altering her expressions and body language, she is the show runner, hands down. Diane Kruger as the apparently harmless but fierce Seeker is not bad at all. Cinematographer Roberto Schaefer shows the arid, barren landscape of Louisiana very beautifully. The Seekers survive by bonding with other species and are supposedly kind and good and hence, are denoted by white costumes and silver shiny cars. With humans portrayed as dishonest, pitiful and cruel to one another and to their planet, their costumes are in earthy tones (created by Erin Benach), which goes well with the scenery.

The bad: This story about an alien falling for a human is expected. The plot falters because the aliens are here to give a better life to mankind but they end up warring with earthlings and when a Seeker is accidentally shot dead by another (Diane), she says, “We’re at war. Some sacrifices are necessary in war.” It shows the aliens ending up as fallible as humans. Plus, Wanderer falls for Ian and can’t see herself alive when all those she loves will be long dead. So it’s mankind, humans like Jeb who are kind to Wanderer and let her live with them. Certain scenes between
Melanie/Wanderer, Ian and Jared are unintentionally funny especially when Wanderer decides the best way to bring Melanie back into her body is by making her jealous. So she kisses Ian which doesn’t help and then snogs Jared. It brings back Melanie but she’s very mad at Wanderer for kissing Jared. It’s delinquent instead of being dramatic. The cat and mouse game between the humans and the Seekers never becomes gripping.

Overall: The brilliant acting doesn’t really save it from being quite a dud.
– Latika Mehta

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