Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Books to Movies: The Host

Adam C. Zern opines on the film adaptation Stephenie Meyer's The Host:

"What can I say about Stephenie Meyer's The Host?  Well, it's not very good; therefore, it's no surprise that the film is inspired is also pretty lousy.  Although, I'm not convinced the basic premise of the book and film are inherently flawed but actually have decent potential.

I think the concept of The Host works much better on paper than it does on film.  You get a real sense of this as soon as Wanderer, the alien body-snatcher, starts tacitly arguing with her human host, Melanie.  On paper the exchanges could have worked except for Meyer's lacking tact for dialogue and monologue.  On film, the internal struggle between Wanderer, who eventually adopts the name of Wanda, and Melanie are downright laughable and far too often painful.  With one mentionable exception, thanks entirely to the acting ability of Saoirse Ronan, the internal dialogue between Wanda and Melanie, which should be the central conflict and most important narrative feature of the story, becomes the single worst aspect of the film.   I would also add that I felt Diane Kruger did a respectable job in the role she had and with what she had to work with.

What I really don't understand about the film adaptation of The Host is why its screenwriter and director, Andrew Niccol, seems to show such little skill in portraying emotion and character.  Gattaca, also written and directed by Andrew Niccol, is an outstanding film—one of my favorites.  Yet, it was made in 1997 and he has yet to make a film of any consequence or quality since.  When I heard he was taking on Meyer's The Host I had a sincere hope he could turn it into something special, but I should have known better based on his more recent filmography.  The Host would have been a difficult story to adapt into a film for any filmmaker (what the heck do you do with your characters in that stupid cave for that long?) and Andrew Niccol obviously wasn't able to salvage a bad book and lame story from itself.

The Host the book and film are pretty equal.  They're both lousy.  I'm impressed, somewhat staggered actually, by the success attained by Stephenie Meyer.  She's obviously struck a chord within popular culture, albeit her star is fading, but her stories, The Host, book and film included, don't sing much for me."

Other Topics of Interest:
Reflections: The Host
Books to Movies: The Hungers Games
Books to Movies: The Princess Bride

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