Netflix A-Z: The Host (2013)

We’re already at H on the Netflix A-Z! Seriously, its gone by really fast! Among all the crazy going on, this is still something that I enjoy and brings me back to that first year I committed to adding in movies as a focus for the blog.  I’m happy to be reconnected with that feeling.  Writing reviews is back to being all sorts of fun again. Honestly, I kind of missed that feeling. Let’s hope it sticks around.  So, H choice goes to The Host. I love Saoirse Ronan but I do not like Stephanie Meyer’s writing and storytelling style so its hard to say how this one will go.  I really don’t know much but the reviews I’ve seen aren’t exactly positive so my expectations are set rather low.

Let’s check it out! 🙂

The Host (2013)

The Host 2013

Director: Andrew Niccol

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, Jake Abel, Diane Kruger, Chandler Canterbury, William Hurt, J.D. Evermore, Boyd Holbrook

An alien force has invaded the world but they do it through taking over the bodies of the current species.  On Earth, the people are different and they prove that their host is tough to take over.  This is the case with Wanda (Saoirse Ronan) taking over Melissa’s body.  Her soul stays within even though she can’t control what Wanda does.  Melissa tries her best to convince Wanda to not reveal the ones she loves such as her love Jared (Max Irons) and her little brother Jamie (Chandler Canterbury) and while slowly gaining her trust, she also tries to lead her to understand what their invasion has caused to humans. At the same time, her escape from the alien species Seeker’s investigation to find other humans remaining leads one specific Seeker (Diane Kruger) to be hot on her trail. While she gains trust in this new place with the human resistance, her and Melissa eventually bond to become allies who hope to stay alive and try to find a balance to live together physically and emotionally.

The Host

Just so you know, I had to watch The Host two times mostly because I was so drained that I fell asleep in the first viewing for a little and power napped and woke up and watched the ending and for this review to be as complete and fair as possible, I turned it on again and watched it the next night. Plus, that first night, I went into this expecting the worse and I was a little too judgmental, on the second viewing, it wasn’t unbearable.  I personally think Rotten Tomatoes 8% is a little harsh.  I mean I would swap Twilight’s New Moon with this and still it would be a little harsh.

While we are talking harsh, let me tell you where The Host fails.  For one, it has clunky and cheesy dialogue.  At times, the consistency of story falls apart and lacks the continuity it should have.  Its definitely no masterpiece.  And it has all signs of Stephanie Meyer’s conflicted love story and the whole saying I love you but really saying goodbye.  That’s all I remember of Twilight New Moon and its the only movie I intend on seeing in that franchise.  Not to be judgmental but that one had no hold on me.  But The Host is far from perfect but its really the bad dialogue that makes this not to convincing.  Plus, it might not appeal to the mass audience because it focuses more on the relationships and love story and drama than on the actual alien takeover sci-fi portion, making it geared more towards a specific group that enjoys this genre. Plus, there isn’t really a climax to The Host which is hard for it to not drag a little when it has a relatively long run time of 2 hours.

The Host

Now that we got the bad stuff out of the way, The Host isn’t all bad.  The story itself about a parasite alien race makes a good bit of sense and has its pull and creative value that works for me.  I mean if you think too deep about analyzing how it all works, maybe it falls apart a little but, it is a decent conceptual premise.  While we are talking about that, the effects are pretty good and the camera work and the shots are pretty good to look at especially in their little hideout area in the caves.  The whole surviving by your own means was a nice take. On the story front, we aren’t quite looking at love triangle but rather just two separate girls in one body but falling for two different boys but their feelings are distinct as to who each of them like, its just how to divide that love.

The Host

Since I’m at the whole love discussion, what really does lift The Host is that it has a likable cast.  Starting with our main character, Saoirse Ronan plays Wanda but also does the voice of Melanie who keeps constantly voicing in conversations with Wanda throughout the movie.  For one part, that was the issue I had with the character.  I liked Wanda a lot because she, as the alien here showed a certain human value to her while really showing the confusion of being immersed in a new world and discovering feelings and adapting with the new host.  So, for that, I give the script of having two voices a negative because I made me feel a little split personality going on there and it would get bothersome.  Melanie’s character wasn’t particularly appealing so it kind of lifted up who Wanda was and how good she is.  Maybe the contrast was done deliberately.  I have no idea since I didn’t read the source material. However, the likability of Wanda is captured by Saoirse Ronan who takes this bad dialogue and still dives in with the best acting she can do and that shows how potentially great she can be (as she has proved with other movies she’s been in).

The Host

 While we’re not talking about the normal love triangle here, there is still favorites.  In very much the same way as how I prefer Wanda’s character, I also prefer Ian’s character more.  Ian is played by Jake Abel and his character kind of just flips from love to hate in a pretty abrupt way towards Wanda but he is a kind-hearted, truthful and loyal character and that makes him very awesome.  Plus, they just make him out as super adorable and lovable when he starts having the attraction thing going on with Wanda.  On the other hand, Jared, played by Max Irons is in love with Melanie.  I think Max Irons carries his character very well but I didn’t enjoy that character quite as much.  Although, he is also a rather good looking guy.

The Host

I guess, I can’t leave this review without at least touching on the villain here which is The Seeker played by Diane Kruger.  I like Diane Kruger as an actress.  She is competent and above average in what I’ve seen her in before.  However, her role falls into the same trap of just the script failing.  It never adds any intensity even in the moments where there should be danger.  Maybe its the predictability of the script or just how there was no build.

Overall, The Host is harshly judged.  I’m a little half and half on it.  Its definitely more of a guilty pleasure if I wanted to watch this again because I really enjoyed the chemistry unfold between Ian and Wanda’s character and I thought the movie looked really pretty.  Plus, some of the cheesy dialogue was really laugh out loud moments, just like that “Kiss her” scene up there.  I guess in a way, I can feel the chemistry in certain ways because I’m just a super sappy person.  But, this is a perfect proof of how a good conceptual premise without taking the right steps can drag a story down.  It could’ve been better with the cast it had if it chose to follow more on the sci-fi Seeker against Human resistance path but it turned into a teen romance cheesy dialogue script and that killed it in many ways causing it to not have a climactic moment, no danger, no worries and the run time was just too long for its own good without enough plot direction. Still, despite my criticism, I wouldn’t oppose watching this again.

You can judge me but hey, agree to disagree, k? 😉

Have you seen The Host? Are you a fan of Saoirse Ronan?

Next week, we are stepping into the I selection! Any guesses? Hint: Comedy

Unknown (2011)

Have you lost track of how many movies Liam Neeson has done? I’m starting to see him in everything, action, adventure, crappy, good, romantic comedies…everything.  I’m trying to figure out how many movies I own/seen that he’s been in.  I mean just look at IMDB page, he has 3 movies in post production, 3 flicks filming, and 2 in pre-production.  Can you find someone who works as much as he does? I sure can’t… Just in the last few months, I’ve reviewed 3 of his movies: Dark Knight Rises, Love Actually and The Grey.

unknownDirector: Jaume Collet-Serra

Cast: Liam Neeson, January Jones, Diane Kruger, Aidan Quinn, Frank Langella, Sebastian Koch, Bruno Ganz

Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) and his wife (January Jones) land in Germany for a conference under the invitation of Dr. Bressler (Sebastian Koch).  When he arrives at his hotel and his wife is is inside checking in for the Eisenhower Suite at the Hotel, he checks over the suitcase that is unloaded and realize that one of them is left at the airport.  He quickly gets into another taxi to go back.  However, him and the taxi driver (Diane Kruger) get into an accident.  When Martin wakes up four days after the accident, he is in the hospital and all he has are flashbacks of his wife.  He doesn’t have any identification so the hospital wasn’t able to contact his wife.  Suddenly, when he remembers his purpose in Germany, he goes to find his wife at the hotel, to realize that she doesn’t know him and refers another man (Aidan Quinn) as his identity.  In confusion, he seeks to find the truth of why his wife doesn’t recognize him.  As he retraces his steps, he gets the taxi driver Gina involved as they try to find out what is actually happening and who Martin actually is.

unknown conflict

This is a fast paced action mystery thriller where the process is way better than the ending.  I found the ending underwhelming for one.  I was engaged and intrigued by the story as more and more questions popped up during the flick.  The cast was all people that I enjoyed and recognized. This looked so promising in the beginning but ended in such an average fashion.

unknown martin liz

Liam Neeson was pretty good in this movie.  To me, this wasn’t as good as he did in The Grey, but that movie had an amazing plot.  This one lacked a little something.  However, he was still enjoyable to watch.  Aside from Liam Neeson, I recognized the man who is supposedly impostering him, Aidan Quinn.  He’s in one of my favorite new TV series, Elementary and I was extremely happy to see him in the movie. He’s totally awesome and he does decent with what he’s given.  Then we have the lovely Diane Kruger.  I first saw Kruger in National Treasure, I find her a charming actress and this one she’s did a good job.  I’d also like to share a love for the actor who played the private investigator that helped Martin search the truth, Bruno Ganz.  He was amazing. I think he was possibly my favorite character in this one.  The lines he got was just total awesomeness.  I have never seen him in anything prior to this but the appearance he made on the screen kicked up the suspense even more.

unknown martin gina

I don’t talk about the directors ever, because a lot of times, there’s rarely anything I want to say. However, for this one, our director is one Jaume Collet-Serra.  I know this man from his previous work that I saw during my Halloween month last year.  I didn’t write a full-on review of the movie but I loved it.  Its a little horror thriller called Orphan.  That movie sure thrilled me.  Although ranked in Rotten Tomatoes at about the same as Unknown, I found that one delivered more than this one.  The basis of that movie had a lot more mysteries and surprise moments that this one didn’t have.  But I’m not exactly sure comparing action thriller to horror thriller is along the same line…

I know there’s a lot of comparisons here making this sound like I didn’t enjoy the flick.  A good action thriller gives me entertainment a bit of suspense and gives me fun moments I had fun with it for the good part. However, my feeling of a movie always drops a bit when met with an unsatisfying ending.  The potential was there, and it could’ve worked alright but it just lost control of what it was doing and became slightly predictable.  I’m not exactly sure thats how I’d describe it, something just didn’t work for me but I’m can’t seem to pinpoint what.

I’m not going to  recommend this as much as I’d say that its a decent movie that you could catch if it ever presented itself.  Entertaining and action-packed for a good part supported with good cast makes it a decent watch.

What do you think about Liam Neeson? Whats your fave one? How about worst?