Near the end of Twilight madness, YA scribe Stephenie Meyers published a tiny sci-fi one-off, The Host. She released the novel a few months before her juggernaut Breaking Dawn would sink its teeth on the bestsellers lists.
The story follows the life of Melanie (Saoirse Ronan) and the "soul" that takes over her body named Wanda (short for Wanderer). The Souls have brought our tiny green planet peace, cured all diseases and ended hunger and war. The only downside is that it really isn't our planet, anymore. Nearly all the humans have been assimilated: The ultra-bright eyes prove it. Once a Soul takes hold, your old self is gone. So imagine Wanda's surprise when she hears a voice in her host: Melanie's.
For the big-screen adaption writer-director Andrew Niccol brings his own style and vision to Meyers' novel with Saoirse Ronan playing both Melanie and Wanda. Like his previous films, Gattaca and In Time, the costumes are chic yet the environments have a deliberate empty feeling. Naturally, since is this the author who divided readers into Team Edward and Team Jacob camps there's also a love triangle, but never mind that. Here's why having a parasitic alien life is preferable to fangs.
1. The Question of Freedom: Do humans need to be reined in? The film takes a good look at the cost of freedom. The rebels hangout in a barren desert cave, where harvesting wheat is job one. Joy. Meanwhile, the Soul-controlled city looks like a high-end furniture catalog. And everything is free! Within reach, indeed. Be sure to grab a silver Lotus and matching helicopter at the checkout. Or would you rather be shacked up in the cold rainy Forks with vamps and other beasties?
2. Melanie Is Complex and Loves to Smooch: Trapped in her own body, Melanie has plenty of reasons to be angsty and moody and she is for a time, but she's also much stronger, funnier and more compelling than Bella Swan. Part of the allure of the Twilight series was the stories' very chaste view of teens in love. Bella could barely kiss Edward in the first film. Melanie (and Wanda) has issues about locking lips, as well. But that's because they're torn between kissing Jared (Max Irons) or Ian (Jake Abel), darn that two-separate-beings thing!
3. Continuing the Story: Although written as stand-alone novel, The Host could make a compelling TV series. The plot could play out like a new version of Dark Angel (which starred then unknown Jessica Alba), meaning plenty of action, cool cars, and relationships between the rebels and The Souls. We're especially interested to see what Mel's little brother Jamie (Chandler Canterbury) grows into. Maybe he'll appreciate the cool stuff the Souls have to offer.
4. The Seeker Is Not Afraid to Get Dirty: Michael Sheen chewed as much scenery as he could as Twilight's Aro, the leader of the Volturi but the part was pretty small. Plus, he's just not very hands-on: He's got minions to take care of menial tasks like murder. By contrast, The Seeker (Diane Kruger) is more like Agent Smith in The Matrix. The Souls are a mostly emotionless bunch but she is peeved 24/7. What's up with that? Finding where Melanie's group hides is her No. 1 priority. We never forget that and can't keep our eyes off her fashion forward white-on-white outfit by costume designer Erin Benach—she fitted Ryan Gosling in the scorpion jacket in Drive.
5. But Then There's the Voice-Over: When reading the book the exchanges between Melanie and Wanda are internal since they are in the same body. Not a big deal to read, but to demonstrate this in a movie equals a lot of voice-over. Lots. As mentioned above, Ronan's Melanie is a much more layered than Kristen Stewart's Bella—who also narrated the Twilight films—but we doubt even Meryl Streep could overcome a ridiculous echo-effect that makes every line of "thought" dialogue sound like bad telenovela.
Are you going to check out The Host? Sound off in the comments!