Movie review: The Host

You are watching another slow-burning romance to have sprung out of Stephanie Meyer's shamelessly tepid pen.

Written by Shalini Langer | Mumbai | Published: April 19, 2013 6:22 pm

Cast: Saoirse Ronan,Diane Kruger,Max Irons,William Hurt

Director: Andrew Niccol

The Indian Express rating: *

Two men and a helpless girl; three horny youths who can’t go the whole way; and one who has lived at least a thousand years. No,you’re not looking at Twilight — and thank God for that — but yes,you are watching another slow-burning romance to have sprung out of Stephanie Meyer’s shamelessly tepid pen.

Only,Melanie who could be Twilight’s Bella doesn’t mumble like her in a presumably eternity-lasting lament. Instead,she has conversations with the alien invading her body,an unceasing chatter that spans from telling her how to jam a door to instructing her not to kiss her guy or,wait,kiss him,depending on how ignored she is feeling at the moment. Now,that could have been funny — it actually almost sounds so — but as Twilight has taught us,humour is not one of Meyer’s strong suits,not when she can deal with werewolves and vampires to silvery amoebic aliens with the same somberness.

So,sometime in the future,our planet has been taken over by aliens,who have made it a kinder,nicer,more courteous and less violent place,with the environment healed and hunger vanquished. Plus,the officials all wear pristine,designer-stitched white and drive around in shiny,jazzy vehicles. That wouldn’t be such a bad place,would it? Only impossible perhaps — but who’s talking possibilities here?

There is a resistance movement of course,and one of its members,Melanie (Ronan) is captured by the alien’s race Seekers. She is brought back from death by their magic spray and then cut open in the base of her skull to have the alien in the shape of a glowing parasite poured into it. When Melanie opens her eyes next,they are striking blue — a sign that she is now one of the aliens with the name ‘Wanderer’. That gets shortened soon enough to ‘Wanda’,but we are jumping the gun here.

No sooner has Wanderer slipped into a designer pad and expensive clothes of her own that Melanie starts talking to her,literally. And telling her to resist revealing her memories to Seeker-in-Chief (played by Kruger),which could help lead the aliens to the last members of the Resistance.

Why would such a loving alien race,having “bonded” with life on 12 planets,want to make the Resistance one in their own image is unexplained. Altruism,perhaps? The Resistance led by Jeb (a working-hard-at-it Hurt) doesn’t believe so.

To cut things short,Melanie leads Wanderer to where the Resistance is hiding out. You can be proud of your planet earth at this point,shot in beautiful warm tones over a desert landscape and some interconnecting caves,where a community has come up. That is,if you ignore the acres of wheat they are growing in there,with the help of mirrors overhead,and people artfully placed,who all stop mid-work to stare at Wanderer every time she enters the frame. They eat wheat,and….?

Never irked by presumably such elementary details,Wanderer is instantly won over. And wooed over,by not just the guy who loved her before she became Wanderer (Max Irons) but also the guy who loves her now that she is Wanderer/Wanda. It’s all can’t-keep-hands-off but can’t-let-pants-down Meyer style,with sometimes Melanie urging Wanda on,sometimes Wanda calling her out,often Melanie stopping her,seldom Wanda stopping early enough.

The talented Ronan,to be fair,is delicious and as convincing as a Melanie-cum-Wanda can be. The guys are non-complaining,even kissing on demand the same girl when urged to by the other.

The earth? It has survived worse. Or has it? A sequel is out there.

shalini.langer@expressindia.com

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