Dull sci-fi ro­man­tic thriller like Twi­light lite

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Colin Covert

STEPHE­NIE Meyer achieved fame overnight with her su­per­nat­u­ral Twi­light nov­els and films. But im­mor­tal­ity? As the mak­ers of Live­strong yel­low wrist­bands or High School Mu­si­cal can at­test, that’s harder to come by.

The film based on Meyer’s lat­est, The Host, blends teen ro­mance and sci fi. In its strange new world, ad­vanced, peace­able ex­trater­res­tri­als have com­man­deered the minds of Earth’s hu­man pop­u­la­tion. This case of global pos­ses­sion has a be­nign face. Earth 2.0 is with­out war, hunger, greed and can­cer. Hu­mans re­tain their phys­i­cal form, dress im­pec­ca­bly, drive sil­ver lux­ury sports cars and live in ele­gant mod­ernist digs.

Un­for­tu­nately, the aliens want to ease Homo sapi­ens aside per­ma­nently, con­vinced that they can do a bet­ter job of run­ning our planet.

An alien in­tel­li­gence named Wan­derer in­hab­its Earth girl Me­lanie Stry­der. Even af­ter she’s im­planted with her new “soul,” defiant Me­lanie (Saoirse Ro­nan) doesn’t knuckle un­der. Her will and aware­ness sur­vive, grad­u­ally re­veal­ing thoughts and mem­o­ries to Wan­derer (Wanda for short). The bat­tle to con­trol Me­lanie’s body is a psy­chic pil­low fight, with Ro­nan voic­ing both sides of the run­ning ar­gu­ment in her head. Like mis­matched bunkies at sleepaway camp, they squab­ble, then learn to co­ex­ist, ul­ti­mately form­ing an emo­tional con­nec­tion.

Me­lanie con­vinces the re­sis­tant Wan­derer that they must flee to the desert cabin of un­cle Jeb (Wil­liam Hurt) and aunt Mag­gie (Frances Fisher). Evad­ing the alien se­cu­rity chief Seeker (Diane Kruger) and her crew, Me­lanie/Wanda dis­cover re­mote caves shel­ter­ing the hand­ful of re­main­ing hu­mans. Among them are Me­lanie’s Star­ring Saoirse Ro­nan and Diane Kruger Grant Park, Kil­do­nan Place, McGil­livray, McGil­livray VIP, Polo Park, St. Vi­tal PG 125 min­utes

out of five boyfriend Jared (Max Irons) and his fel­low free­dom fighter Ian (Jake Abel), who falls for Wanda. With two iden­ti­ties in a sin­gle body, our heroines find them­selves in a two-way love tri­an­gle, then a three-per­son love quad­ran­gle. And Bella Swan thought she had a tan­gled love life!

Writer/di­rec­tor An­drew Nic­col ( The Tru­man Show, Gat­taca) does a ca­pa­ble job with the phys­i­cal as­pect of the pro­duc­tion. The sleek en­vi­ron­ments the aliens in­habit evoke a sense of pu­rity that is both sooth­ing and creepy. They shop at a place ti­tled “Store” where goods are abun­dant, but dis­played in ster­ile pack­ag­ing with no vis­ual dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion be­tween items. The hu­mans’ spa­ces are wet (soggy waterfront cab­ins) or arid (south­west­ern rock for­ma­tions). There’s a bat­tle of cold De­sign Within Reach con­form­ity vs. shaggy thrift-store di­ver­sity in ev­ery shot.

But there’s only so much value that Nic­col’s slick pre­sen­ta­tion can add to Meyer’s shal­low ma­te­rial. Ace stunt­work not­with­stand­ing, the movie lacks a sense of dan­ger and ur­gency.

I wouldn’t put money on this mish­mash of In­va­sion of the Body Snatch­ers and Love Story scor­ing with fan­tasy fans.

ALAN MARK­FIELD PHOTO

Saoirse Ro­nan plays a hu­man named Me­lanie in­hab­ited by an alien named Wan­derer.

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