An Invasion of the Body Snatchers retread told from a postoccupation vantage point, this adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s YA romance novel unfolds in a dystopian future when alien parasites have nearly won the battle for Earth. Like Don Siegel’s pod people, these ETs render their human hosts impossibly civil and upbeat. One of the last surviving members of the Homo-sapiens resistance, Melanie (Saoirse Ronan, in an eerily compelling turn) is finally captured and implanted. The young woman cedes control to a foreign being named Wanderer and resists interrogation by the Seeker (Diane Kruger); it’s a suspenseful segment, even if the story’s need for Ronan to carry on conversations with herself is achieved through the most cheesetastic of voiceovers.
No stranger to high concepts (Gattaca, In Time), writer-director Andrew Niccol helps The Host survive as a sci-fi movie even as he’s saddled with the Twilight author’s source material. Escaping to the rebels’ desert hideaway, Wanderer and Melanie share one body but pine for different freedom fighters (Max Irons and Jake Abel); meanwhile, William Hurt’s daffy uncle nods sagely at life’s lessons. The real drawback is the high-def–video cinematography, which makes what once would have been a lush, grand-scale blockbuster appear cheap and televisual. Imagine Terminator 2’s SoCal vistas looking similarly cut-rate, and you’ll have a truly dystopian vision of the movies.
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