I will openly admit I am a Twi-hard, not only did I enjoy Stephenie Meyer’s novels for some much needed escapism, but her personal story into fame inspired courage within me to turn procrastination into action. So like every other superfan, I was excited to see how her novel ‘The Host’ transformed on to the big screen.
It behoves me to admit that even before halfway through the film I was sighing out loud in boredom. The movie was a weak adaptation of the novel. At least with the Twilight series they managed to keep the darker aspect of the book and all the action sequences (even with it’s PG rating). Given ‘The Host’ was an adult novel I expected more. Gone was much of the conflict, the visceral fighting (which leant more reality to the book), and any of Wanda’s flashbacks (including the one poignant moment defining her character). Many of the characters felt a little stereotypical in comparison to their literary counterparts (even the aliens were more glowing-fluffy-cloud than segmented insect-like parasite). The setting of the canyon caves were much more domesticated and comfortable than I had pictured from the novel and lost a bit of the ‘last pocket of humans surviving alone in the wilderness’ vibe.
On the plus side, Saoirse Ronan did an excellent portrayal of Melanie Stryder, and redeemed the film in my eyes. With such a strong cast, what could have come across as cheesy has a quiet sophistication to it. I enjoyed the sci-fi parts they included (would have loved to see more) and it was filmed beautifully with gorgeous sweeping landscapes. The movie rang true to the premise of alien invasion and kept me engaged, themes of love, loyalty and survival at all costs remained strong and it was great to see how this was perplexing to the aliens point of view.
All in all, the film was a sanitised version of the book; the only thing left was the love story… which in translation lacked the desperation and angst from the novel. It felt like there was too much silence and empty space in the story.
Disappointed. That is the only word I can use to review the film. The evolution of Stephanie Meyer’s writing into an adult novel had been reduced to a flick targeted at tweens to tap into the ‘Twi-hard’ fan base and edited out all of the aspects of the novel I found most appealing. I guess if the movie was a version that would have me raving about it for years to come, it would need to be turned into mini-series to conserve all the elements that enticed me on the pages of the book. I enjoyed the movie for what it was, and maybe, if I hadn’t read the book first would have enjoyed it more. A good companion to the novel, but not a great one.
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