'The Host' - The Funniest Film of 2013 So Far!

Ensign Lestat's Film Log, 21/04/13

Wow, has it been an age since I watched a film, or ages since I wrote about one? Knowing me, it's probably the latter. It also doesn't help that this season has been really tame. I haven't caught any films that have really captured my imagination.

After 'The Dark Knight Rises', nothing else has reached that brilliance. This year's Oscars was a total dud - full of fluff. I was very disappointed in eventual Best Picture winner 'Argo'. Based on a true story, about a destructive and sad period in history, and it all boils down to a celebration of Hollywood. Should I be complaining about a true story? No. But I'm not the only one to complain about the Oscars going for crowd-pleasing films. Take a gander at the Telegraph UK's observations on the same.

'The Host'.
A story of two guys, a girl and one confused alien
Anyway, the reason for my return to film reviewing is 'The Host'. Yes, that one! The soppy, pseudo-sci-fi, written by the author of the 'Twilight' series. It is shocking that I went to watch this film. Trust me, I'm still reeling from the shock myself.

So, what was I doing there? Blame my sister. She is a reviewer, and for reasons beyond me, she decided that 'The Host' would be the film of the month. Suffice to say, it never made it past that thought, the reasons for which I shall elaborate on now. Warning, if you plan on watching this film, please don't read the review, it is full of spoilers.

So, the film is about aliens taking over the planet. Normally when aliens take over the world in films, there is a tremendous amount of explosions, machines take up posts all over the place, the planet is decimated, most parts razed to the ground, others look nothing like their former selves. Here, the aliens take over an unwilling 'host' and just continue living like human beings.

Our protagonist is Melanie, played by . Melanie soon gets captured and becomes host to the Wanderer, later referred to as Wanda (only in a Stephanie Meyer-written story would this happen). 

Anyway, Wanderer and Melanie (MW) end up coexisting in the same body, something that is unusual for the aliens. On escaping, MW head towards Melanie's family. Some complex stuff happens, I think, before they're there.

So, there's a bad guy (Diane Kruger) who is hell-bent on getting MW. There's MW's family who do not like the alien taking over Melanie's body. And then there's the interesting part - two blokes.

No, seriously, this is the core of the film - two guys and one girl. And people complain about Bollywood! 

We've gone down that route before with Meyer's 'Twilight'. Here, it's a bit more contrived, but makes somewhat more sense. The two blokes are Jared (played by the hot hooker from 2009's 'Dorian Gray', Max Irons. Actually, he probably deserves a better introduction than that, given that he's Jeremy Irons' son, but that's how I remember him). 
Max Irons in 'Dorian Gray' - memorable.
The other one is Sam and Dean's half-brother, Adam (Jake Abel). And, for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, just go hereNow, the first time I saw Adam, sorry Abel, was as the complete and utter d-bag ex in 'I Am Number Four'. I was therefore horrified when he appeared as a Winchester in Supes. He's not such a big d-bag there, he's kinda okay, actually.
Jake Abel as Adam Milligan in 'Supernatural'. He is seated with his 'brothers' Sam and Dean Winchester.
Back to the film. Max's character Jared happens to be Melanie's partner. Their meeting is very awkward - bordering on sexual harassment. For reasons beyond me (I haven't read the book), they play house with Melanie's kid brother (can't recall the name). So Melanie, despite having to play second fiddle to Wanderer, obviously wants to see her partner again. Of course, when they meet again, he hits her so hard, she ends up on the floor. This is after she got hit (the same way) by her aunt. Seriously, really quite hideous. The whole scene made me cringe. There's a huge continuity error during the whole sequence as well, which makes it all the more jarring.

Okay, moving on from the overt domestic violence. Melanie likes Jared, but Wanderer falls for Jake's character Ian. I don't even know why she falls for him, because when first they meet he wants to shoot her. When next they meet he almost strangles her. 

Third time around he's making big goo-goo eyes at her, and she responds in kind. Say what? It's an about-turn with no explanation. It's like he woke up the next day and thought, 'Nah'.

Oh, yeah, before I forget, there's this other awkward scene between Melanie and Jared (prior to her capture) where they talk about prolonging the human line. Gawd! It's absolutely horrible. Something out-right gross about it. Especially given that while shooting the film Ronan was only 18. Ewwww! It has made the whole movie a lot more ick for me since I found that out.

Back to the film. Nothing much happens during the two hour duration of this film. Scenes are popping into my head, but absolutely nothing happens in them.

We later realize why Kruger's character wants MW dead - she suffers from a similar condition, with her host taking control from time to time. It's another spectacular twist that just comes from absolutely nowhere. Did I mention Kruger spends the entire film in 100 inch heels? It's the darndest thing. It takes away the last shred of credibility this film attempted to maintain.

During all this, Wanderer gains the confidence of the kid brother and the Uncle. Jared hates her; and every time Ian looks up he goes into puppy dog mode. It's really very funny.

Eventually they capture Kruger's character (I'm drawing a blank as to how) and coax her symbiote out of her. See, all the aliens really want is some tender loving care. Roll eyes.
The 'Souls' aka the aliens.
Wanderer decides to kill herself so Melanie can have her life back. And just when you think it's all over (heck, she just shared this really long goodbye speech with Melanie), she opens her eyes to see that she is now... Emily Browning! Browning looks terrible in this film. It's a horrible thing to say, but she does. I blame the stupid hairstyle they put her in. It made her face look too round, and her head far too big for the rest of her. I kinda felt sorry for Ian at that moment.

So every girl gets her guy and they go off on a crime-fighting spree, or some such. I couldn't figure out the point of the epilogue to be honest.

All right, I confess, I was not interested in watching this film and was expecting the worst. I got exactly that, but it was pretty hilarious along the way. I'll admit that was a particular bonus. I mean, how many times can you look pained and brooding (Jared), or doe-eyed and smiley (Ian). Every time one or the other came into focus, I just burst out laughing. Not half as loud as my sister though. She was in her element. I will point out, however, that the rest of the audience were very stoic and only tittered when it was an intentionally humorous moment. I believe we may have been surrounded by actual fans of the story.

I'll also have you know that the hall was not full of squealing teenaged girls. Au contrair. It was split equally between males and females, and most were above the target audience age. Weird? Or maybe they were like us, starved for a film to watch. Who knows.

But, I have yet to come to the funniest aspect of this film. This film wasn't, in fact, a sci-fi romance; it was, to put it simply, a prolonged snogathon. No, seriously. Let me break it up for you:

Scene 1: Girl running. Girl gets captured.
Scene 2: Alien in girl. Girl reminiscing about meeting boyfriend - he snogs her the first time he sees her. Ewww.
Scene 3: Girl escapes, finds family. Cue occasional reminisces about past (read: snogging episodes).
Scene 4: Boyfriend hates on girl. New guy looks longingly at girl. Cue snogging with one or other.
Scene 5: Girl disappears inside mind. Alien tries to wake her up by snogging both boys.
Scene 6: Fight with baddie. Win. Snog.
Scene 7: Both alien and girl alive and separate. Snogging ensues.

Yup. There is a lot of snogging in this film. I mean, it was unbearable. And, having read the forums on IMDb, it appears that this grated on more than one viewer out there. Geez. It's quite like Jared had ABSOLUTELY nothing else on his mind but one thing. It was cringeworthy and hilarious at the same time.

And, about that scene where Wanderer tries to bring back Melanie when she seems to be asleep, she snogs Ian, and when that doesn't work, Ian goes out and gets Jared and orders him to 'kiss her'. Have I mentioned that this film just made me feel ick? Well, this scene is up there with the reasons why. But, it was hilariously funny at the same time.

When it comes to the acting, Ronan is completely wasted in her character as MW. She's an Oscar-nominated actor, celebrated for her talent. The film 'Atonement' fell flat when she was no longer on-screen. Her talent is, at best, latent in this film. She sits about, looks hopeless or helpless. She pines for one boy or the other. And she talks to herself. That's all she does. She talks a lot. There's a serious amount of talking.

I felt that they could have attempted something different with what is, ostensibly, a split-personality character. I believe this comes from watching too much 'Supernatural'. They use mirrors very effectively when conveying two personalities in one body in Supes. It allows the actors a tremendous amount to work with, while also allowing for a development that the audience can connect with.

The disembodied voice of Melanie was... just a voice. There was no way to connect with it. As I said, they completely wasted a fantastic talent.

The rest of the cast were just there. The male leads had no acting to do. As I said, one brooded all throughout (hmmm... sounds familar, that), and the other pined throughout (oh wait... I'm seeing a pattern here).

Strangely Max and Abel looked rather attractive in this film. Very easy on the eyes indeed. Or so I could tell from in between laughs.
Max Irons and Jake Abel were very easy on the eyes. A rare saving grace for the film.
To top it all, turns out I have seen all but one of the director's work. Andrew Niccol is the writer of 'The Truman Show' and writer/director of 'Gattaca'. His last film, 'In Time', had an interesting premise, but was poorly executed. The man needs a proper shake-up. His stuff is going from bad to worse.

All I can say is, 'The Host' is unintentionally the funniest film of the year. We spent all our time laughing at the characters and their soppy expressions, rather than with them. I really can't take away any positives from this film, bar that the two male leads are rather attractive. Oh, but I did get a song out of it. Imagine Dragons' 'Radioactive' is now on loop on my iPod. So, one positive there. Watch this for a laugh, but that's about all.


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