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Blu-ray Review: ‘The Host’ (2013) – Proof Hollywood Can’t Even Adapt Crappy Books Well

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As anyone who has ever held one of those papery book objects upright and briefly leafed through it enough to reassure themselves that they did, in fact, know how to read a few words of their own language knows, Hollywood has a somewhat notorious reputation of turning items from the literary field of entertainment into motion pictures that sometimes lack the luster their source materials possess. How many times have we sat down – snacks in hand and our appetites awaiting satisfaction – only to be treated to the unfulfilling exercises in mediocrity. Take, for example, The Da Vinci Code, The Golden Compass, or any adaptation of The Great Gatsby. They all sucked.

But what happens when Tinseltown decides to turn a story that was complete crap to begin with into a movie? Enter the 2013 anti-classic, The Host: a laughably inept waste of both money and time that only the combined forces of an oblivious, greedy production company and the writer of the Twilight saga could produce.

the-host-2013-blu-ray-review-blogcriticsWe begin with some opening narration courtesy of a near-comatose William Hurt. And while it’s tempting to scream “Oh, Bill, how could you?!”, it’s more than apparent why this seasoned performer signed on for such a fowl project: a quick, easy paycheck. As the film progresses and we meet the film’s main characters, we soon realize that The Host‘s own screenwriter/director, Andrew Niccol (Lord of War, Gattaca) was also phoning it in. Commanding nothing more than as phlegmatic and impassive of performances as humanly possible from his actors and actresses, Niccol succeeds in one-upping the brief “In this performance, the part of David Hemmings will be played by a piece of wood” gag once tossed into an episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus by having his entire cast substituted by sand-ridden scraps of driftwood that aren’t even capable of emitting that cool pretty light their more-talented brethren would were they cast alight.

And believe me, this cast deserves to be set alight.

The bulk of the cinematic assault is credited to Saoirse Ronan – a young lass hailing from the Irish coppice of bad performers, and who has a disturbing resemblance to Nicolas Cage (which does nothing to encumber our disdain). For what’s it worth to you, the reader, the story of The Host finds humanity plagued by alien organisms who make us all peaceful and stuff. Ronan plays a girl whose body is given a “host” of its own, but her strong will to live and love (or some such crap) enables her to fight the invasive life form. More importantly, it enables Miss Ronan to argue continuously with herself in both thought and word onscreen (as the human and alien within clash with each other), which allots us with the opportunity to fully realize just how bad the dialogue of so-called novelist Stephanie Meyer (who produced this mess) really is.

From there, Ronan flees the humans-infested-with-aliens-infested-city to the desert, where her family lives. Naturally, the bad guys – led by a malignantly bland Diane Kruger – pursue. Meanwhile, Ronan’s character deals with teeny romance feelings and that drag high school drama bullshit that millions of unimaginative, immature women and their daughters alike found so appealing in the Twilight series – though most anyone with even a degree of intelligence will have either avoided The Host of flat-out ejected it long before it gets to that point.

It’s like they say: “Same old shit, different story title.”

Universal Studios Home Entertainment are the culprits behind distributing this embarrassing fiasco into cinema le merde, and have added further insult to the injury by giving this forgettable feature an eye-opening 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC transfer with equally-impressive DTS-HD MA 5.1 sound. Bluish and orangey hues embrace most of the dystopian setting here, while the rest of the colors – as well as the contrast and detail – are truly solid. Likewise, the audio mix delivers the goods on all levels. In all honesty, the presentation is prefect both visually and aurally: it’s just that everything you actually see and hear is as appalling as possible. English (SDH), Spanish, and French subtitles round up the language options.

Special features include an audio commentary by Meyer and Niccol themselves (and may the burn in Hell for their contributions to humanity), several deleted scenes, some press kit filler focusing on Meyer, and some other dull minute-long item that was so memorable, I already forgot what it was.

In short: this is most assuredly not The Host with the most. Avoid it.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.
  • Elspeth Chagall

    Avoid this? No problem. After putting myself through the first two Twilight films (and I haven’t a clue why I even bothered in the first place) and only read 80 pages of the first book, I came to realize what a shitty writer Meyer was. So there was no way in hell I was going to put myself through another Meyer quagmire. I just feel horrible that you had to subject yourself to this tripe. Guess you made the supreme sacrifice so we wouldn’t have to. :)