The Universe & U
This is how I see it. We spend years preoccupied with a series, constantly wishing they would select it for the big screen. Detailing lists; compiling scenes and particular components we absolutely want and don’t want. We debate casting decisions; obsess over initial snapshots and overdue theatrical trailers. We buy advance tickets; scout theatres. We do everything a dedicated fan would do.
The night of the premiere, we wait anxiously in our seats, giggling with anticipation, smiling throughout the preamble. Eventually, biting our lips when a favorite scene is done to our satisfaction; constantly dissecting every alteration, every similarity. Ultimately, we frown as the final credits roll, as we inherently remind ourselves the film is never as good as the novel.
I can tell you, I’ve been through this process many times, and frankly, it sucks. So much excitement and expectation is built up, the film never has a chance to prove itself. The Host was my surrender. I was going to go in, enjoy, and shut the hell up. Despite everything, I was not going to nitpick. Nope. Instead, I would observe as a true nonpartisan and cite no overly critical criticisms whatsoever.
Nah. Just kidding. Where would the fun in that be? [Warning, there be spoilers ahead!]
From Page to Screen: Much of the appeal of the novel stems from the intense character-driven storyline and the varying confrontations between Wanda and her fellow cave dwellers. The film, on the other hand, focuses immensely on the Seeker (Diane Kruger) and her pursuit of the human resistance.
Honestly, there wasn’t enough talking for me. As a drama highly focused on face-to-face interaction, it was disappointing to witness overly simplified dialogue, and unnecessary action sequences. Either go gritty or go home. The three or four moderately violent action segments were surrounded by a gentler, youthful film. The intended impact was not accomplished.
In fact, several major differences between the novel and the film originate from this desire for more conflict: the Seeker’s interrogation. Wanda’s confessions and frantic escape. Melanie’s control and the subsequent car crash. Furthermore, I have to question the Seeker’s behavior and the significant change in Lacey’s personality. The Seeker is even more envious and savage, which I can understand; but Lexi is the complete opposite of her novel counterpart – apologetic and tolerant.
Although there were significant differences, overall I found that most (important things) stayed partially in tact, only having been cut to the essentials – scenes that were detrimental to the plot. Did I miss some of those small details? Sure did. Which is why I feel like the film was too streamlined.
Having little build-up to the cave dwellers embracing Wanda was also a big turnoff for me. They trusted her too soon, which felt unrealistic, and caused some great sequences – from beginning to end – to be cut or chopped. Including, Wanda’s anticlimactic exit, which felt lackluster and forced – despite the jaw-dropping surprise. As well as, the final epilogue – an apparent setup for a sequel, which Stephenie Meyer has yet to write (but should start working on, because the rest of us have been waiting a really long time for it).
- Jared & Ian – With his wicked backhand and wide eyes, Max Irons has now, in all likelihood, secured himself a place in your nocturnal fantasies. Plus, he’s very nice to look at. As is, Jake Abel. I know I’m not alone when I say, I spent the entire two hours wishing for more Jared and Ian.
- Melanie and Jared’s First Meeting – Just like the book. Perfect.
- Uncle Jeb – That wisecracker.
- Melanie Slaps Jared In the Face – Like I imagined, in spite of the cheesy dialogue.
- Souls – “I held you in my hand, Wanderer. And you were so beautiful.”
- The Landscape – Beautiful, elaborate shots of the Arizona countryside. Nice job, Cinematographer Dude.
- Surprise! – There was a lot (and I mean, a lot) of speculation regarding who would play Pet; if they would even include Pet. Never in a million years would I have guessed, Emily Browning. I really don’t know how they kept that secret. I’m glad they did, though.
- Wanda – I’ve said this many times and I will say it again. Saoirse Ronan is a great actress. However, how difficult is it to find a lead actress who isn’t so robotic? Wanderer may be very prim and proper, but she has another person in her head who certainly isn’t. She is dealing with twice as many emotions, so you would expect her to be a tad more dramatic in her everyday movement and have some inflection in her voice. Why couldn’t we see all that inner turmoil?
- Give Me a Smooch! – Seeing an almost fully nude Max Irons may have been hot, but adding kissing for the sake of kissing is not or will ever be appropriate. Make it count.
- Kyle’s Ambush – That was supposed to be suspenseful?
- Pleasantville – Welcome to the Sixties!
- That’s a Lot of Wheat – Seriously?
- The Sex Talk – More awkward than the book. You just know S. Meyer is proud.
- STORE – Apparently, these aliens aren’t the sharpest crayons in the box.
Final Thoughts: Although I’m still a firm believer that it takes more than one viewing to form a genuine opinion, I will honestly tell you, The Host was good. Good, but I wasn’t wowed. I wanted to be wowed; swept off my feet. Still, I say the film was a successful adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s novel. A definite must-watch for diehard fans.
Movie Rating: B-
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Have you seen The Host? What did you think of the movie? Have you read the novel? Do you think the movie adaptation did justice to the novel? What was your favorite scene? Favorite character? Will you see it in the theatre again? Tell me in the comments!