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Andrew Niccol directs this science fiction romance adapted from the novel by Stephenie Meyer, creator of 'The Twilight Saga'. An alien race has begun colonising Earth by taking over human bodies and erasing their minds and memories and only a small band of survivors remain who are working to protect themselves from extinction. One of them is Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan), who, when out on a search for food, meets another human being named Jared Howe (Max Irons) and it isn't long before they begin to develop feelings for one another. However, when Melanie is taken by the alien species and is made host to one of their own, it seems all hope is lost. That is, until Melanie's mind begins to fight back against her new inhabitor and her human emotions and memories ignite some empathy in the alien parasite.
For more about The Host and the The Host Blu-ray release, see the The Host Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on February 5, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Director: Andrew Niccol
Writer: Andrew Niccol
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Diane Kruger, William Hurt, Max Irons, Rachel Roberts, Marcus Lyle Brown
» See full cast & crew
The Host Blu-ray Review
"What you're doing is wrong, and you know it."
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, February 5, 2014
With Hollywood scrambling to anoint Twilight's spiritual successor long before the final film in the mega-franchise ever hit theaters, it was inevitable that someone would scoop up Stephenie Meyers' "The Host," a novel feverishly penned as the author put finishing touches on "Eclipse." It was also inevitable that whoever snatched the rights to the book wouldn't much care whether or not it was any good. The Host isn't about to inherit the Twilight mantle, or any other mantle for that matter. Vapid and listless, the pouty genre vamp drains Invasion of the Body Snatchers of its lifeblood, leaving nothing but the dry, hollow husk of what might have once been a high concept sci-fi thriller. The story? Joyless and indescribably generic. The dialogue? Taxing and tiresome. The performances? Dead on arrival. The pacing? Slow and onerous. The visuals? Shiny and... shiny. If there's any redeeming value here it's that young Saoirse Ronan is still getting work, although that may come to a tragic end if she continues to sign up for preening drivel like The Host.
Meyers other Anglo-Angst Romance introduces yet another tense teen love triangle, set amidst yet another war between two enemy species. This time, though, the war is between a small, dwindling human remnant and the Souls, the laughably named space parasites that invaded Earth years ago and systematically began inhabiting human hosts. The quote-unquote invasion is just as ludicrous, as the Souls are as fragile in their natural state as a premature kitten swaddled in a moistened Kleenex. How the first Soul took over the first Host is better left to the imagination as it defies what little credibility the film's premise holds.
But human host Melanie Stryder (Ronan) is different. She struggles to retain prominence and even control after she's implanted with a Soul named, I kid you not, Wanderer. This of course doesn't sit well with the villainous Soul queen... erm, the sinister Soul Seeker (Diane Kruger), whose sole task is to hunt down remaining humans and turn them into Hosts. Oh, it gets better. Upon escaping from the Seeker's clutches, Melanie/Wanderer -- soon nicknamed Wanda (Ronan arguing with a disembodied Ronan voiceover) -- seeks asylum with some of these very same humans, a cadre of sorta-survivalists holed up in the middle of the desert, nestled in a secret base of operations hidden deep within a sprawling cavern. The group also just so happens to include Melanie's boyfriend Jared (Max Irons), brother Jamie (Chandler Canterbury) and uncle Jeb (William Hurt).
After gaining trust following a whole week of imprisonment at the human compound, Wanda inadvertently begins working her womanly wiles. Jared still has feelings for Melanie, while boy-toy Ian O'Shea (Jake Abel) develops a thing for Wanderer. It's a love triangle turned love quadrilateral, but with three bodies, four minds and one conflicted Soul. Cause, you know, when aliens invade, and you capture one, falling in love with it is a forgone conclusion. Meyers, it seems, is really, really, really intrigued by cross-species relationships, which raises more than a few questions, none though as pressing as those raised by the film's endless plot holes and contrivances. Blown leisurely on the wind from one sleepy set piece to the next, The Host doesn't offer any anchor points whatsoever, nor anyone worth attaching to. The humans don't behave as if they're actually locked in a do-or-die invasion scenario, and the contradiction between the Souls' aggression and tranquility isn't adequately explored or addressed.
Worse, the intertwined fates of mankind and the Souls are never in doubt. Even when Wanda and her strapping young pals stumble upon a humane hands-on solution to the Soul infestation (no shock there, much less a spoiler), the daunting reality that millions upon millions of remaining Souls need to be dealt with doesn't exactly bother anyone. Are we really to believe a van full of scruffy nobodies are going to usher in salvation? Removing and relocating every Soul on Earth? One by one? Or is their little corner of the planet good enough? Or are they counting on the quasi-passivity of the Souls a bit too much? Or the rise of a movement? It doesn't take long to realize Meyers and writer/director Andrew Niccol's endgame isn't an endgame at all, or a cliffhanger, or a promise, or a launch point... or an ending. The Host stops mid-stride, new cast members and all, to be resolved in sequels that, based on the film's meager box office take, aren't about to be green-lit anytime soon.
Niccol is also either completely hemmed in by the original book or completely oblivious to its failings. The Truman Show screenwriter was already a hit or miss filmmaker, hitting with Gattaca in 1997 and Lord of War in 2005, missing with S1m0ne in 2002, and firing a bit too wide with In Time in 2011. The Host, however, is in an entirely different league of awful, presenting the Melanie/Wanderer interplay as if Meyers had universally unlocked the secret to the torn hearts and uncertain minds of every conflicted teenage girl on the planet. All well and good, except truth is tough to find in The Host, as much on screen as on the page. Next to nothing rings true -- not the characters, their actions, motivations or desires -- and very little of the book or adaptation brushes the truth behind teen identity issues or body image insecurities. The story and its themes suffer from arrested development, as does Melanie and her fellow adolescents, and the third act is as unfulfilling as the buildup. The Host is as lifeless as it is brain dead, flatlining at the outset without any hope of resuscitation.
The Host Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Host is as warm, vibrant and sparkly as intended. Universal's 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode plays happy, healthy host to Niccol and cinematographer Roberto Schaefer's idyllic post-invasion dystopia, with sun-struck hues, lifelike skintones, rich black levels and unflinching color and contrast. None of it is overbearing, mind you, coming to rest somewhere between filmic and otherworldly. The ice-cast alien eyes and glowing Souls are a lovely sight, and the high definition presentation doesn't reveal (or hide, in a few unsightly instances) the seams separating the visual effects from the film's practical photography. Detail is excellent throughout as well, with crisp edges, well-resolved fine textures and informing delineation. Better still, the encode isn't prone to significant artifacting, banding, aliasing or ringing, and very few anomalies take up residence in the presentation. The Host may be dead on the inside, but beauty is at least skin deep.
The Host Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track doesn't disappoint either, even when Niccol's otherwise limp action sequences lumber into view. Dialogue is clean, clear and nicely grounded. Melanie's disembodied voice is overly disjointed from the soundscape, almost to distracting ends, but it's easy enough to chalk it up to poorly implemented intention and give it a pass. LFE output is strong and assertive on the whole, with enough power and presence to hold its own, and rear speaker activity is aggressive enough to up atmosphere and keep the soundfield involving. The Host is nowhere near the immersive, full-assault invasion spectacle genre fans are accustomed to, but it gets by on moody ambience, convincing directionality and enough angsty wherewithal to suit the film's tone. All told, Universal's AV presentation is the highlight of the disc, with next to zero issues to report.
The Host Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Host Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Host would be best served if Meyers and Niccol were removed completely and replaced with a stronger storyteller and more daring screenwriter and director. As is, the film quite ironically lacks soul, or anything else notably human for that matter. It's a cold, joyless, out-of-body romance thriller with little to no intrigue or hook... other than Meyers' name, which will only draw the sort of crowd that isn't usually interested in things like sci-fi body snatching. Fortunately, Universal's AV presentation offers a strong showing. Those who decide to ignore the warnings and give The Host a spin will at least enjoy the AVC-encoded sights and lossless sounds.
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The Host Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blu-ray Sales, July 8-14: The Host Invades the HD Charts - July 17, 2013
For the week that ended on July 14th, Universal Studios scored the top film on the Blu-ray-only sales chart with its release of The Host. The film - director Andrew Niccol's adaptation of the Stephenie Meyer novel - received a lukewarm critical and commercial ...
• Exclusive Giveaway: The Host - July 1, 2013
Blu-ray.com and Universal Studios Home Entertainment are offering three members a chance to win a copy of writer/director Andrew Niccol's The Host, which stars Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, Jake Abel, William Hurt, Diane Kruger, Chandler Canterbury and Frances Fisher. ...
• The Host Blu-ray - May 7, 2013
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced the Blu-ray/DVD/UltraViolet Combo Pack release of writer/director Andrew Niccol's The Host, starring Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, Jake Abel, William Hurt, Diane Kruger, Chandler Canterbury and Frances Fisher. The ...
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