Andrew Niccol’s adaptation of The Host is very faithful to Stephenie Meyer’s book. But the film fails to capture the philosophical and moral complications detailed in the book.
The story follows a Host and a Soul on post-apocalyptic Earth. The Souls, an alien race who take over the natives of war-torn planets, live to make every world peaceful for their hosts. Earth’s humans are very dangerous to themselves and their planets so the Souls have some trouble subduing all the humans. Melanie is a particularly difficult being to conquer as she is part of a rebel human resistance. The Soul Wanderer is placed inside Melanie to mollify her and find out where the human are living.
Wanderer finds it hard to subjugate Melanie. She is still there inside the Host’s body nagging at her with every move she makes. Wanderer begins to sympathize with Melanie, and the two start a quest to find Melanie’s brother and boyfriend. But the Souls are not giving up, and a particularly singular minded Seeker chases after them.
By luck, Melanie and Wanderer are able to make it to the desert hideout of the humans. Wanderer is given shelter even though the humans do not trust her. Melanie’s boyfriend and brother are found, but the story does not simply end there. Wandered, now called Wanda empathizes with her human captors and falls in love while in the caverns.
The changes made to the movie are minimal. Some back stories, such as Kyle and Jodi’s, are left out leaving you to question the motivations of some characters, but the movie leaves little time for much more than Wanda and Melanie’s story.
The problem with The Host as a film is that somehow all nuisances lost. The movie makes everything black and white. There is some discussion as to how one body can love too men but it mainly glossed over in stark kisses and slaps. The movie losing the internal dialogue between Wanda and Melanie. The movie features Melanie as a disembodied voice but Wanda talks aloud to herself. This is done for ease of understanding but the inner turmoil is too a minimum and Wanda seems to collapse under Melanie’s influence which is absolutely not the case. The book features two souls at war finding peace between themselves, their morals, their loves, and their loyalty.
It is hard to suggest what could have made this better. I want to fall back on an old excuse; it’s not a book you can translate. It’s not Twilight; there is depth and character development that was missing from the vampire saga. This is Meyer’s best work. But this is not Niccols.
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- The Host: Worse than Twilight (ecthehub.com)
- Movie Blog: ‘The Host’s Leading Men Talk Sci-Fi, ‘Twilight’ (minnesota.cbslocal.com)
- Film Review – “The Host” (Director: Andrew Niccol) (thewanderingbookworm.wordpress.com)
- Forget aliens; human race doomed by teen angst (hamptonroads.com)
- The Host (christianitytoday.com)