Movie adaptation of popular novel stays true to story, broad appeal

[pullquote1 quotes=”true” align=”center”]Stephenie Meyer’s Host proves she actually has moderate level of creative ability[/pullquote1]

BY ELIZABETH MCMAHON ’13
Staff Writer

The Host, based on the book of the same title by Stephenie Meyer, premiered this weekend. I must say, usually when I go see a movie, I have a very clear idea of my thoughts on it, but that was not the case this time. I truly think my knowledge of the book, which I recently read for the second time, was the true cause of this.

I really don’t like it when people compare the book to the movie because the two are entirely different forms of media, and something that is brilliant on paper could just never translate onto the screen in the same way. After saying this, it was extremely difficult for me to not compare the two, partially because some of the dialogue is taken directly from the book. I like it when a movie takes the basic plot and then makes it something new, but this movie didn’t really do that.

The plot of the story in and of itself is entirely original. Of all the apocalypse movies out these days, it is a very unique idea to tell something from the invader’s point of view. The souls, as the invaders are called, have inhabited human bodies, and the only sign of their existence is the silver in their eyes and the presence of a scar on the backs of their necks. Although they are an extremely peaceful race, the souls are determined to wipe out humans and take over their bodies.

This film tells the story of Melanie, a human who has been implanted with a soul called Wanderer. Melanie refuses to die out, and, instead, she convinces Wanderer to return to her family and to love them as much as she does.

The translation of lines, taken from the book and then put on the screen, was problematic. Sometimes they took exact lines from the book and put them in different scenes, and this did not always turn out well. I think they really should have just focused on the plot of the book and then created dialogue that was appropriate for a film.

In addition, I wish they had actually removed some of the parts that kept true to the story and expanded on the portions that were new. For example, the book is written in first person and is, therefore, entirely reliant on Wanderer’s point of view. The film added the Seeker’s point of view, which gave a very unique perspective, one I wish they had done more with.

I did go see the film with a few friends who had never read the book, and their opinions were different from my own. They enjoyed the movie, and I think it was mainly because the idea of the film is very unique. They didn’t know what was coming, so they were surprised by just about everything that happened.

A huge disappointment for me was the music. A good movie score should not be noticeable; it should capture the moment so perfectly that the listener doesn’t even hear that it is there. This was not the case in this film. I truly think the music actually ruined some scenes and made us wish it actually wasn’t there. This was especially true in regards to the flashback romance scenes. The over-the-top music took things way too far and made me want to laugh instead of cry.

The acting, however, was great. Saoirse Ronan, who plays Wanderer/Melanie, did a phenomenal job capturing both characters at the same time. The two have internal conversations, and it was interesting to watch the way they portrayed this. There was a part of me that wished Wanderer could talk back without using Melanie’s voice, but in order to do this they would need to use two different actors, and I’m not sure it would have worked.

A particularly moving scene was at the end when the two characters are parting and having a very moving conversation, in which the only shot is of actor Ronan’s face. It was a very touching scene that actually made me want to cry.

There were moments when there seemed to be a lack of chemistry between Max Irons’ character Jared and Ronan, although I am not entirely sure if this is because of the music or because of the acting. Still, I think the chemistry could be improved since it was spot-on between every other character.

An interesting addition made to the movie compared to the book was an element of violence. The Seeker, who is essentially the enemy in the film, carries a gun and at one point actually kills one of her co-workers. This is against everything the souls (the invaders) stand for, and it made me wonder what the scene’s purpose was.

[three_fourth]The plot and the acting was superb. The music was certainly the biggest flaw in the film, and I will even say I would have enjoyed it more if they removed the music altogether. The second biggest flaw was an attempt to stay as true to the book as possible. They should have taken their few alterations in plot and made this more prominent than elements found in the book.[/three_fourth]
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Review Rating:
B
While impeded by the score, The Host delivers a moving experience.

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Questions? Email Elizabeth at emcmahon@fandm.edu.

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