In “The Host,” “Twilight” author Stephenie Meyer turns her attention from vampires to space aliens. In her saccharine yet profitable imagination, a hostile alien takeover of Earth involves beings that resemble a clump of ethereal-looking spermatozoa, known simply as souls. These souls take over worlds by coexisting with the inhabitants — in our case, by using human bodies as their hosts, essentially eradicating the person that existed before the alien soul was surgically implanted.
The only difference in appearance between a human and a soul inhabiting a human body is the color of the eyes. Once a soul enters a human body, the eyes turn the most remarkable shade of blue.
The big loser here is humanity. The big winner? Planet Earth, baby! Since the alien souls took over, Earth has become a lovely place to live: The environment is pristine and everybody is supernice to one another. You don’t even need to buy anything. Everything is free! You can walk into a store the size of an Ikea, which is called — wait for it — “store,” pick out whatever you want and just walk right out.
Of course, with every alien invasion there’s going to be some kind of resistance. Even with an alien invasion as poorly written, sanitized and never fully realized as this one. But more on that in a moment.
Enter Saoirse Ronan’s Melanie, who’s doing her best to protect her little brother, Jamie (Chandler Canterbury), and her boyfriend, Jared (Max Irons). At one point, Melanie hurls herself out a window, preferring suicide to surrendering her body to those peaceful, angelic, ruthless souls. Even so, although almost every bone in her body is broken, Melanie survives and her body becomes home for an alien type named Wanderer, who has fallen under the influence of another alien named Seeker, played by Diane Kruger. If you haven’t already guessed, Seeker seeks stuff, namely humans who haven’t already been co-opted by her race.
Seeker wants Wanderer to delve into Melanie’s memories to figure out where the rest of the resistance is hiding. However, the alien souls have underestimated the human race: even though the aliens may inhabit a human body, some of those bodies retain their original, human soul which, in Melanie’s case, also speaks in a terribly cheesy voice-over. Melanie convinces Wanderer to rebel against Seeker and help her find her Uncle Jeb (William Hurt), her boyfriend and her little brother.
If “The Host” had been written by Joe Smith of Pensacola, Fla., rather than by Stephenie Meyer, the book never would have been adapted into a screenplay, let alone made into a big-budget feature. Somebody might want to send a memo to screenwriter/director Andrew Niccol and let him know that even films that are only halfway decent need to have something at stake. Where were the stakes here? I know where they were supposed to be, but I was too busy alternately trying to stay awake or endure the annoying voice-over to care. At the very least, Hurt, Ronan and Kruger deserve better than this.
One-and-a-half out of five stars.