A retread in the territory of ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ told from a post-occupation vantage point, this adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s young-adult romance novel unfolds in a dark future where 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 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 HD digitial cinematography, which makes what once would have been a lush, grand-scale blockbuster appear cheap and televisual. Imagine the Southern Californian vistas in ‘Terminator 2’ looking similarly cut-price, and you’ll have a truly dystopian vision of the movies.