Blu-ray Review: The Host

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the hostWith the “Twilight” saga now pretty much put paid to, now we have something new from Stephenie Meyer which our friends out at Universal sent out a copy of for review. It’s none other than “The Host,” and it won’t hit shelves until July 9, so we’re getting a nice early look at the title.

“The Host” presents us with an alien invasion already in progress…oh wait, no…it’s pretty much already done. But you’d almost never know, because the aliens’ colonization efforts don’t so much involve building whole cities over the smoking wreckage of our own, so much as they involve taking over our bodies and wandering around in same like big suits. For Melanie Stryder, however, the invasion isn’t such a done deal, and she’s eager to try and keep the people she loves safe from the horrors of corporeal eviction.

Naturally, when people hear the name “Stephenie Meyer,” the visceral reaction is either one of intense glee or one of intense dismay, at least for the most part. Though I have to admit, it’s not every day that someone can put together a tale of a utopian invasion; pretty much every major ill has been wiped out thanks to the horrible alien hive mind that’s taken over our bodies and converted us all into cooperative honest pacifists with extremely high technology.

Indeed, there were plenty of comparisons here between “The Host” and the earlier “Twilight” saga, and while the temptation to simply call this another “Twilight” in science fiction garb is strong, it’s not entirely accurate. Sure, there are plenty of things to support same–yet another “special girl” who’s been found by a “special boy” who end up working together against something greater than themselves–but there are plenty of other points that don’t favor such comparisons.

“The Host” almost can’t be judged in isolation. Given Meyer’s earlier work, there’s always the suggestion of saga involved, and that may well perk this up. I admit, I liked what I saw, but wondered, was this all there was? What is this all setting up? The initial going is somewhat unsatisfying as it sits, but is this the whole thing? If this is all there is, then it’s all actually a bit on the dull side, with some action to perk the whole thing up but a certain lingering dissatisfaction in its wake. If this is the start of a much bigger work, then we may have a good starter-up and something much better to come. It’s hard to tell, and though some find it unlikely there will be a second one, there are some points to suggest a possibility. There are certainly plenty of unanswered questions left behind if it doesn’t have more to come, enough to make this a downright joke of a movie.

Special features here include a set of deleted scenes, a featurette on converting the book to a movie, and a commentary track with author / producer Stephenie Meyer as well as screenwriter / director Andrew Niccol, and producer Nick Wechsler. Plus, there’s your choice of English, Spanish or French subtitles, a Seeker PSA, and trailers for “The Place Beyond The Pines,” “Oblivion,” “Despicable Me 2,” “Admission,” and “Grimm,” though these will be before the movie. The Blu-ray menu gives you “The Grey,” “A Haunted House,” “Hanna, ” “The Adjustment Bureau,” and “Charlie St. Cloud.”

“The Host” is something of a surprise, to say the least. Not only is it not nearly as unpleasant as I thought it might be given its dubious origins, but I certainly couldn’t ignore the admittedly rather unusual parts of the whole thing. If it’s the first part of many, it’s likely worth a rental, but if it’s the only part of one, then it’s a bit on the slow side. Oddly, “The Host” is a movie that will be framed by sheer optimism.

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