Monday, April 8, 2013

The Host: movie review

This picture isn't mine; I got it here.

I saw The Host on opening day. Yeah, and after much discussing, my friend and I decided we have a lot to say about it.

This rant/review is about the movie. As far as the book, The Host is a favorite fluff book of mine, one I can enjoy a lot without really having to think, but I do like it a lot. And I'll assume the people reading this post knows about one or the other, so yes there will be spoilers to the storyline.

I'm still not sure if this movie is okay, or super crappy.

I'll try to separate this into topic sections, because otherwise I could go on for hours on every little detail. It's a collaboration of my and my friend's thoughts, I have to give her some credit! :)

Warning: This is turning to be a very long rant. Heh.

Actors: Oh dear. Maybe I shouldn't have started with these.
Diane Kruger (The Seeker): She was kinda super awesome! Especially when The Seeker was removed and Lacy had her say, that was probably the most well done part of the movie.
Saoirse Rowan (Wanda/Mel): I haven't seen her in anything before, but I can tell she's a good actor. She did the best she could with the part, and I could only hear a tiny bit of her accent, which I didn't mind.
Max Irons (Jared): Eh. I don't know why he's so popular, I wasn't impressed. Although Jared isn't a favorite character of mine, so I might be biased.
Jake Abel (Ian): Now Ian is my favorite character in the book, but they absolutely destroyed his character in here, it hurts to talk about. Bleh. They just made his relationship with Wanda so cheesy and stupid. That's all I can say without blaring the caps.
Chandler Canterbury (Jamie): So adorable! Though it was weird at first, I soon got used to him. Really captured his whole "Mel, I'm older than I look" vibe of the book.
William Hurt (Jeb): Perfect for the part, even though a lot of his lines were direct quotes from the book. He did the part well and I felt like he very well could be Jeb.

Things they took out include:
-Walter and his heartbreaking cancer
-Wes and his sweet romance, oh but they did kill him still. Which is when they mentioned his name.
-Game room scenes
-Both the trials
-Kyle's girlfriend, Jodi (so we never see his kind side)
-Many raids.
-A sense of community. It felt like our main ten people were...all the people in the entire cave system.
They just took a LOT out. It's a 600+ page book, and a two hour movie, with at least 35 minutes being stupid make-out sessions. 'nuff said.

New for the movie:
Lot's of Seeker's POV scenes. Almost too many. It did give another element to the story, and was visually exciting, so I can't complain too much.

Setting: There aren't a lot of different places shown in the book, but you don't realize how small Wanda's world is until you actually see it. There is one scene in the kitchen that lasts, oh, two minutes.  Wanda's cell. Doc's place for one terrifying scene and one normal scene. Ian's bedroom. Jared's bedroom. (Wait, I think they used the same set.) And the baths. The mirror field was extensive, but looked visually unrealistic. The mirrors themselves were awesome!

Acting/Script: For so many big names, they kinda sucked. I blame the script writers. Everything Wanda said sounded very rehearsed to my ears, and that goes for the physical moving around too. When Ian tries to strangle Wanderer in the beginning I winced from the pure awkwardness. Like...really? That's the best you guys can do? For the fight scene between Kyle and Wanda in the baths (one of my favorite scenes in the book), it was filmed terribly, and looked like an SNL skit. The camera showed one angle, and the pool looked two feet deep. And when Wanda finds Doc's experiments she goes all wide eyed and freak-out-mode, but it all felt too staged.

Effects That Weren't Crap: The intro. The eyes. Boy they were eerie! It really felt like you were looking at the glowing soul inside. Which is the second okay-effect I liked. The...two? parts that showed them removing/placing a Soul made the being look pretty and otherworldly.

Music: I tend to really pay attention to the soundtrack and scores to movies. For the most part, the score wasn't bad. It's the way it was presented which was the problem. Scene of talking, then some overall dramatic music, scene of fighting/talking, music over a setting change....etc. It just didn't blend well. Also, you know the Dreamworks theme music for the man in the moon clip? Yeah, it reminded me of that the entire movie. One exception, I remember a single scene where I heard some vaguely southwest-y theme music that reminded me of Firefly, probably because of the AZ setting (which is where I live!) It only lasted a minute though.
I don't know if The Host had a soundtrack besides that song in the trailer and the ending credits, Radioactive by Imagine Dragons. That is a pretty cool song by the way.

Plot: The entire 2+ hours I felt like I was floating. There's a sense of disconnection. Like a HUGE sense of disconnection. This is unfortunately what killed the movie for me. Everything happened at an almost dreamlike state, and the music-placement didn't help that. For the book, I think it's supposed to be almost bildungsroman but the movie-creators either didn't catch on to that, or decided nobody would notice. Wanda is supposed to grow, as a soul, to love the humans, and essentially pull a Pocahontas. So, that did technically happen, but I didn't feel involved. This may be due to a lot of important decisions Wanda makes is in her head. Not counting the internal/external dialogue with Mel, but actually her own thought process. Even the movie's decision to delete the character of Walter, that's a huge part of what shows how she gains humanity. Hopefully you'll understand what I'm talking about.

Pet (Wanda): I really mean no offense to the actor who played Wanda's new body at the end, known as Pet, but HOLY SHIT it scared me so much. When her face was revealed, I literally jumped in my seat and my friend and I turned to each other with a look. O.O I don't know why, it's just super unsettling. Thankfully there were fewer than ten minutes left by then.

Overall Feel: This is a silly movie. Really. At least five times the whole audience laughed at something, be it awkward or actually silly (but the book wasn't a laughable sort at all). I would have been happy if they never made this movie at all. It's one of those books that shouldn't be bothered with. Just my opinion. And as bad as it was, I...couldn't really stop watching it. I was curious how at every turn they would screw it up yet again. Like a scientific study. And my friend sat next to me cracking up the entire time, so that helped too.

What did you think about it? This isn't the worst book-to-movie adaptation I've seen! Don't get me started on The Hobbit.

Now, what am I looking forward to next? Warm Bodies! That was such an amazing and beautifully written book, I can't wait to see how they'll destroy it for the movie. ...I mean, maybe they won't kill the book, but that trailer sure isn't a good sign. (And yes I know this came out two months ago.)

Wow, you've stuck around this long? Thanks for taking the time to read this. :)



  1. I don't think I'll skip the movie altogether. I consider a movie a sort of reward for investing the time in reading the book, and this was a hefty book. I might wait for it to come out on DVD, though. Almost all the reviews I've read were unfavorable. Of course, that doesn't always mean anything - critics hate every single Jennifer Lopez movie, for example, but I find them delightful.

  2. I have been googling around trying to find a review where the reviewer had read the book as well! A lot of the reviews I've just read raised questions and supposed plot holes that were actually answered in the book.

    I too was pretty disappointed by the movie. I really enjoyed reading the book and thought it was a lot better and less silly than twilight. I liked that Wanda was concerned with more than just her own love life and happiness, she was altruistic and cared more for Jamie, Jared, Ian and everyone around her than she did herself. I also liked how it was much more conceptual and had interesting themes of right vs wrong and what it means to be human.

    But the movie just didn't translate well at all! I found Melanie's dialogue to be annoying - it seemed like she was putting on a really strong southern accent to differentiate from Wanda, and she also didn't seem to really put any emotion into what she was saying. Like at times, she should have been screaming but she was just half-heartedly saying stuff with a monotone sort of voice. I also agree that Max Irons did't act very well in certain scenes, though I like when he teared up and said "it's still her body" (it's in the trailer). Ian was also one of my favourite characters in the book and I didn't like his casting. I'm sorry but I don't find Jake Abel attractive enough, and I thought he was supposed to have dark hair. In the book I liked how Ian subtly became more and more interested in Wanda through many interactions. In the movie they didn't devote enough time to that and so it seemed silly that he said he loved her at the end.

    I also agree with what one reviewer said that Jared, Ian and Kyle looked too similar, and if you haven't read the book it's easy to confuse them. After all they do all try to hurt Wanda at different points and two of them kiss her!

  3. .... (continued - too many characters, yikes!)

    While I agree that some things need to be left out and changed in order to keep the length of the movie down, I think a lot of things were changed that didn't need to be.

    -their dad killed himself rather than being taken
    -Jared lived in a house instead of a cave
    -glow worms???!!!
    -Pet had dark hair and no freckles (I agree Emily Browning looked a little weird, though she was gorgeous in Sucker Punch). This really annoyed me. She was in it for such a short time, they should have just cast someone who looked the part, or at least put a wig on her.
    -The "seeker in black" wore all white and had blonde hair instead of black (although yes, Diane was cool and the white did look awesome)
    -No Jodi/Sunny so Kyle still seemed like a bad guy at the end
    -they made out that Lacey was a good person and the Seeker was a bad soul, which I thought seemed more the opposite of what was intended in the book
    - it was never pitch black though it frequently was in the book (obviously I realise there are practical reasons why this wouldn't work for extended periods in a movie though)
    -so much extra footage of the Seeker that wasted time that could have been used for emotional development (although I agree it looked good). My BF (who hasn't read the book) said it was very anticlimactic that the Seekers never found the rebel's hideout and didn't have a war with them. I can see now why he would have been waiting for that to happen. They created a lot of tension with those scenes that ultimately was never resolved.
    -Ian taking Wanda outside. WTF?! He should have talked to her in the corn field like in the book ( I know they're different scenes but you get what I mean)
    -They made it seem like both Ian and Jamie begrudgingly agreed to let Wanda kill herself, which is madness!

    I could have dealt with some of these changes but I just felt that there were too many changes that weren't necessary. They easily could have been truer to the book without affecting time constraints.

    The whole thing to me felt very rushed, and therefor all of the emotional development felt silly and not a at all satisfying. There were many touching relationships in the book (Jeb, Ian, Jamie, Walter) that were not covered deeply enough in the movie (although I can see why they had to cut Walter out for time reasons).

    I have to conclude that with the whole internal conversation and dark cave parts of the book make it pretty hard to translate to film. Maybe it's too much to expect for that to work well even if there was better acting and a better script...

    Anyway if you're still reading at this point, thanks! I had to vent ;-)

    1. Thanks for all those good points! I am glad you got to vent, I felt the same way and that's how this post happened. :D And I forgot about a few of those differences in the book, because it's been a couple weeks since I saw the movie; I forgot about how their dad killed himself and Pet's blonde curly hair..I remember being very annoyed when I was watching it. Little changes they did not need to make at all!!

  4. Just saw it, and I was basically bored and trying not to fall asleep throughout the whole thing. It has been a long time since I read the book, but I could still point out all of the things that they just did not do right, or did not do at all. Very, very disappointing. And seriously, Pet? Really? My friends and I were all looking at each other with wide eyes, trying really hard to be nice. I don't know if it was the eyes that made her look....... strange, we shall say?

    1. A link to pictures of the actor who played Pet. She is actually cute...

    2. Wow she doesn't look as creepy in real life!!

  5. The Host's infelicities-drab dialogue, ridiculous plotting, more emotional crises than there is story-are enlivened by its thematic eccentricities. :)