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Movie Review – The Host

By: Laura Paton, section editor for literature & art (lpaton2@uic.edu)

Among popular book franchises that get turned into movies, there is always the debate of whether the book or the movie was better. Book lovers almost always go for the book being better (especially fans of Harry Potter), and there are some who say the movie is better (and sometimes that can be true).

However, with The Host, I’d have to declare a tie. I can safely say I was not expecting this – even though I had read The Host back in high school and I was seeing the movie about 4 to 5 years later, I remember the book being very long and very involved. I thought there was no way they could do the book justice in 2 hours.

I was definitely proved wrong. The talents of Saoirse Ronan (who played Susie Salmon in The Lovely Bones) were beautifully exemplified in this sometimes heart-wrenching tale of human strength.

The Host is about a futuristic society in which “Souls,” a species of parasitic aliens who inhabit human bodies, have taken over Earth, because they think humans are too violent for the planet. The story is about Melanie Stryder, who travels with her brother Jamie, and newfound boyfriend Jared to escape the “Seekers” (Souls who seek to convert humans into Souls by implanting a soul into their body, effectively erasing their consciousness). Melanie is eventually taken over and a Soul called “Wanderer” is implanted into her. However, Wanderer has a hard time completely taking over Melanie, as Melanie’s mind will not surrender. When Melanie convinces Wanderer to escape instead of giving up Melanie’s memories (about Jamie and Jared’s whereabouts), the two (in one body) find themselves in a group of 30 or so humans hidden away in the desert – including Jaime, Jared, and Melanie’s Uncle, Jeb. What follows is the group’s struggle to accept “Wanda” into their society, and to decide if Melanie is still in there and able to be saved.

While I thought the main love interest (Jared) could have been a little more dynamic, I was very impressed with the supporting characters – such as Ian (Jake Abel), the man who Wanda/Wanderer (the soul implanted into Melanie) falls in love with, and Uncle Jeb (William Hurt). The acting these two did was phenomenal – I felt like Stephenie Meyer’s characters had truly come to life.

The special effects in the movie were done quite well. The eyes of the humans who are inhabited by Souls are haunting – the blue rings around the irises create an effect unlike any other. The Souls themselves are beautiful creatures that look almost like dandelions that have turned from yellow to white seeds.

Combined with the movie score, The Host was full of dramatic, action-packed moments, along with more sentimental moments that tugged at your heartstrings, to use a cliché. All in all, if I could give this movie a grade, I would give it an A (4 out of 5 stars).

I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone who wants an interesting sci-fi movie that makes you think. This movie strays far from the Twilight franchise, and for that I am truly grateful.

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