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Customer Review

167 of 204 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The book was definitely better, MUCH better (spoilers), March 30, 2013
This review is from: The Host (DVD)
First, let me say, I'm not a "Twi-hard." I don't have any interest in sparkly vampires and ripped werewolves. And as a heterosexual male who is not a teenager, that's not too surprising. But I did really love the novel "the Host." For me, the concept is sort of like "Dances with Wolves" or "Avatar." But instead of having a human run off to live with giant blue smurfs, here we have a protagonist who is truly alien and learns to become human.

I think there are three problems with the film:

1. The thing that almost sunk the movie for me was the way the character of Melanie Stryder was manifested in Wanda's head. I didn't mind the use of voice-overs, but I did mind the way that "Melanie" came across...sometimes, she sounded like a petulant 14 year-old and not the 20 year-old woman she was in the story. When Saoirse Ronan was in Wanda mode, I found her mostly more convincing and otherworldly (although near the end, she started sounding like a typical human girl with weird contact lenses in her eyes instead of an alien being that had lived multiple lifetimes in different bodies over a thousand years).

I really do wonder if it would have been a smarter thing to have cast an older actress in the role (perhaps if Jennifer Lawrence had been free she could have done it better). I think Ronan is a beautiful woman and she's definitely talented as an actress but as I said, when she was in "jealous Melanie" mode, she came across as very young...and not particularly likeable.

It also would have been smart to minimize the internal dialogue as much as possible and convey a lot of it with just Ronan's expressions and flashbacks.

2. The length of the novel (600 pages) really was important to sell the development of the character of Wanda/Wanderer...specifically, how she comes to love being human more than being a Soul and how she developed feelings for the character of Ian and how she also came to love Jared. But the need to compress the story into something that is movie length (about two hours) resulted in a lot of the "depth" of the story falling by the wayside. For example, we see Ian and Wanda "fall in love" but it seems mechanical and formulaic in the movie as opposed to touching as it was in the book. Perhaps they should have split it into two films.

<spoilers>

Even worse, when Wanda decides she wanted to give Melanie back her body and die, the movie will leave anyone who hasn't read the book scratching their heads as to why she would make a crazy decision like that. In the book, Meyer set the stage for that intention by showing how much Wanda blamed herself for the death of one of her human friends, Wes, and how guilty she felt over the Souls displacing the human race (which set up the death of another one of her friends, Walt, who is missing from the movie, who died an agonizing death in front of her due to cancer).

<end spoilers>

3. Another thing that fell by the wayside that was key to the book being so compelling is that it was told by Wanda using "first person narrative." You really got insight into how Wanda was becoming human and how she came to care for the humans she was prisoner of.

This said, the movie was worth seeing and some of the reasons why included:

1. Saoirse Ronan's "Wanda" most of the time did capture the "alien" nature of the personality that was in Melanie Stryder's body.

2. William Hurt did a good job playing Uncle Jeb. I was a little surprised that Hurt, who I best associate with "Children of a Lesser God" and "the Accidental Tourist" did so well playing the grizzled Jeb.

3. The "world building" (i.e. bringing the sort of strange post-apocalyptic world of the "Souls" to life) was pretty good and really did call to mind what I read in the book. The cave complex was particularly impressive.

4. Diane Krueger did a good job playing Wanda's pursuer.

<spoilers>

5. Emily Browning seemed to be well-cast as the new "host" for Wanda's personae.

<end spoilers>

So to sum up, I thought "the Host" was worth seeing since I loved the novel so much. I know I will read any sequel Meyer writes, and I probably will watch the movie sequels sort of curiosity to see how they bring any future novels to life.

I figure at the very least, we won't see Saoirse Ronan arguing with herself in those films.
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Showing 1-10 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 27, 2013 6:02:43 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 27, 2013 11:59:58 PM PDT
RD9348 says:
Thank you so much for a thoughtful, well-reasoned, and interesting review that is a welcome counterbalance to the prejudiced, destructive, self-serving bile that was spewed out by many of the so-called professional film critics.

I cannot disagree with your misgivings about the film as an adaptation of a surprisingly rich and vividly-written book - speaking as another "heterosexual male who is not a teenager". :) But it's still an enjoyable film and worth seeing, in my opinion, which I would give 4 stars, although I respect your decision to award it 3.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2013 5:10:31 AM PDT
Darth Bane says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Jun 10, 2013 12:52:08 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Sep 3, 2013 1:14:33 AM PDT]

Posted on Jun 13, 2013 10:31:11 AM PDT
Marion says:
Great review. I think I'll wait and get this movie from the library. I don't see HOW they could translate this book into a movie successfully.

Posted on Jun 25, 2013 10:40:31 PM PDT
Paul Kyriazi says:
A well written review. You might consider longer writings such as short story or novel.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 1, 2013 12:35:29 PM PDT
Darth Bane says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Sep 2, 2013 9:30:08 PM PDT
Dawn says:
Well said and I agree with you. I felt like all the events were rushed and some important things were changed or removed to fit the movie, which is why I'm going to rate this as 2 stars. The changes made the movie fall flat. I think the actors and actresses did well but the movie story could be better. I loved the book. I think Meyer showed much improvement in writing this book compared to the Twilight series.

Posted on Jun 24, 2014 5:37:20 PM PDT
I enjoyed the movie. I agree with most of what you say but one and that is the leading actress' portrayal of the Melanie character. I feel you are coming from your bias as a "heterosexual male" and I feel you have not taken into the consideration the research and the psychology of a 20 year old girl who did not grow up in a traditional upbringing of that of an actual 20 year old. I think the actress played Melanie, as a naive 20 year old girl well, because that is what usually happens when a girl is raised in a rough environment--their mindsets are like that of a 14 year old's. Please understand I am coming from six years of research and experience with working with run away teens and young adults. I have witnessed these girls behave below their expected age just like the actress did when she played Melanie. I felt the actress played the troubled 20 year old well.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 6, 2014 1:23:01 AM PST
Leaving the pointed reference to his heterosexual male status out of your review would have been more productive and more to the point. I don't think it affected his critique. Perhaps you are over sensitized to one who has not the background you have. This enables you to understand aspects of female psyche better than most-from those that are troubled, perhaps. But his lack of understanding has nothing to do with his heterosexual status, it has more to do with his lack of experience in a difficult field. Thank you, by the way, for the work that you do. I have seen neither the film nor read the book/s but think I'll see the movie first as that leaves many who read it first expecting more than is easily done in translating book to film. But one thing I am confused about. Your comment: I think the actress played Melanie as a naÔve 20 year old girl well, because that is what usually happens when a girl is raised in a rough environment--their mindsets are like that of a 14 year old girl's [mindset]. Are you saying that if a 20 yr old girl is raised in a rough environment, they become emotionally stunted and have the mindset, the immaturity, of a 14 year old girl? Because she came from a rough environment? Most of the girls I know, or women, that grew up rough were anything but naÔve. They had to develop street smarts at the very least, and fast. Just saying...

Posted on Jan 12, 2015 10:08:38 AM PST
I totally agree, especially with criticism #1.
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