This is from my Adventures in Netflix Series originally posted in April 2014.
First off, I am sorry this is late. I was sick last week and I don’t get sick often, and the last time I got the stomach flu was possibly 2005 so I was pretty much useless. But I’m about 95% so let’s now move onto our sci-fi programing.
The Host is a film written and directed by Andrew Niccol. He is one of my favorite directors because he writes most of the films he directs and they are science fiction in nature. This is the same filmmaker who made my favorite film Gattaca as well as wrote The Truman Show, Sim0ne, and In Time. I could honestly write a long read about Niccol’s oeuvre and the themes he wrestles with but we don’t have time for that.
Our film stars Saoirse Ronan as Melanie, our protagonist who is in the underground hiding from alien invasion, and her alien in her body Wanda. When the aliens that have taken over Earth finally capture Melanie, she is implanted with an alien identity that is supposed to kill her but Melanie fights back and the two occupy her mind space and become companions.
This is an interesting premise that I am not 100% sure was executed to its fullest potential for two reasons. The first is that Stephanie Meyer wrote this. Now, I have not read anything she has written because I am not a huge YA fan and never really was. Yet based on what I saw in the film Twilight (it was freshman year in college, don’t judge me for this), the themes she deals with are more about a girl choosing whom she should kiss and not who she is. The Host has scenes where Melanie’s family, once they realize that she is still in the body, talk about identity and teach Wanda that while the aliens think they are doing something benevolent to the humans, they are essentially killing people. They are stealing identities. Yet the question is, who are the aliens because they have the bodies and the memories of the people before them. There is a moment where Melanie’s uncle Jeb is essentially curious about this duality that Melanie and Wanda experience.
Melanie and Wanda are also an interesting relationship because they grow to love each other and respect each other and Wanda sees the errors of her people. Melanie goes from hating Wanda to willing to share her body with her. There are touching scenes where she helps Melanie’s family survive. Yet the majority of the film is about how Melanie likes one boy and Wanda likes another. This is the biggest conflict in the film. Not that The Seeker, played wonderfully by Diane Kruger, is looking for Melanie to try and kill her. It is about this weird love triangle/rhombus going on. That is the real problem with this film and really most mainstream science fiction films. They feel the need to market them as love stories. Look at the poster that I have added to the top of this article, look at the marketing for Divergent and The Hunger Games. These films and The Host should not be about whom the leading lady is going to kiss on the mouth. They should be about the effects of child warfare, rigid society standards of fitting in, or the exploration of alien life interfering with the home world’s inhabitants.
Yet, studios feel that in order to get butts in the seat, they must make the story about “Tru Wuv”.
The second issue with this film is that it is an adaptation. Adaptations are tricky because you must juggle the expectations of the fans of the source material as well as tell your own story with what you have. Games of Thrones fans are seeing it as well as Marvel fans. You are never going to please everyone because when we read, we are essentially directing our own version of the film. We picture people, the setting, what we see and the pacing. So, when a book is made into a film, studios probably try to hedge their bets and be as generic as possible. They don’t want to go too outside of the box because then you get racist whinnying like we did when Michael B. Jordan was cast as the Human Torch. The lack of risk hurts this film because it could be risky with their casting and story telling. This is why the film doesn’t really go into the philosophy of the aliens in the film. This is why we don’t tackle the heavy things that we could be exploring. This is why the two love interests look the same. Seriously folks, it took me 45 minutes into this 2-hour movie to figure out that they were not twins. I am so over generic white boys it is not even funny.
UP NEXT: I am going to watch Darren Aronofsky’s first feature film Pi because I plan on never seeing Noah.
SICK LEAVE EXTRAS: I bet you guys were wondering what I watched while lying in bed trying not to puke.
- The entire series of Futurama because it has been on my mind since I mentioned it in my guide. It is so great and I may be quoting Bender at random times now.
- Lots of HGTV, Food Network, and those Tru TV shows where people get hurt. I have a childlike love of people getting hurt based on their own actions.
- GI Joe Retaliation: I didn’t get through the first one but this one was okay. The Rock is always fun to watch and Bruce Willis is always a nice surprise. Yet I was so lost, like Fast and Furious, I never expected to have to do background research to follow this action film.
- Violet and Daisy: It was a shoot-them-up with Saoirse Ronan (!), Alexis Biedel, and James Gandolfini. It was bizarre and while I wouldn’t say you should run and see it, I would say if you need to watch something new, check it out.