167 of 204 people found the following review helpful
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.
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).
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.
5. Emily Browning seemed to be well-cast as the new "host" for Wanda's personae.
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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