Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

April 2, 2013

CALLERI: Welcome to the world of friendly parasites in 'The Host'

Niagara Gazette — You can argue all you want about the adage that rules were made to be broken, but when it comes to motion pictures about creatures invading humans and seizing their minds, there is no room on planet Earth for pleasant parasites. None.

I wasn’t willing to let writer Stephenie Meyer play fast and loose with vampire and werewolf lore in her cloying, gooey, teenaged “Twilight” fantasies and the overblown cinematic treacle made from them, so I’m certainly not going to give her a pass when it comes to “The Host.” In the new film based on Meyer’s novel, folks are pestered by aliens from outer space who crave complete and total happiness. They’re like smiley faces riding in on UFOs.

Once they’ve burrowed into an earthling, and turned their eyes silver, the aliens want their hosts to act totally chummy and whisper sweet-nothings into everyone else’s alternative ear canal.

“The Host” is based on Meyer’s attempt to latch onto a lot of moviegoers’ welcome passion for science fiction. The trouble here is that this passion will not be satisfied with the laughable junk on view in this utterly vapid and nonsensical film. The director and screenwriter is Andrew Niccol, who has his own passion for mind-bending and off-beat material. He wrote the interesting but ultimately unsatisfying “The Truman Show,” and wrote and directed the exceptional “Gattaca” and the fascinating “Lord Of War.” Niccol also wrote and directed two failures, “In Time” and “S1m0ne.” He also scripted the sluggish “The Terminal.”

It’s readily apparent that the material in “The Host” appealed to Niccol, but when making big budget studio movies, creativity gets tossed out the window in board rooms. There's also “Invasion Of The Body Snatchers,” that darn 1956 classic with which to contend.

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