Wednesday, 17 April 2013



This teen SF thriller really is Invasion Of The Body Snatchers-lite: so lite in fact that it's banging its head on the ceiling and needs to be tethered to the ground with two-inch steel hawsers otherwise it'll float away like one of its glowy alien light blobs. Originally a novel by Twilight's Stephenie Meyer, it's been adapted by Andrew Niccol who has some form with the cold and soulless future genre, having directed Gattaca and In Time as well as writing the marvellous The Truman Show. And, while it is silly and empty and humourless, and more interested in trying to replicate Twilight's angsty love triangle than doing anything with its alien invasion and human resistance plots, it's good looking and put together perfectly well, though it doesn't really need to be over two hours long.

Sometime in the future, Earth has been colonised by translucent nomadic caterpillars from outer space: they're inserted into your neck and override your existing personality. The new Utopian Earth is smiling and polite, there's no crime, violence or deceit, and indeed there's no economy as everything is free. Unaccountably, however, some pesky humans don't want to be turned into grinning drones with no sense of humour and no sense of love: they exist as a community of hippies and fugitives, and the Seekers (led by Diane Kruger) ruthlessly hunt them down and convert them. But while in most cases The Host's personality is lost in the possession, Melanie Stryder's (Saoirse Ronan) mind remains active when she's caught and taken over by Wanderer. Can she convince Wanderer to change sides, to discover humanity, to not betray her loved ones?

Loved the shiny silver cars, motorbikes and helicopters glinting in the sunlight, but it gets a bit draggy when both Melanie and Wanderer (in the same body) are in love with very slightly different cardboard hunks. Worse: you'd think either the aliens or the humans would have come up with some kind of contact lens that either disguised or faked the glowing irises that are the one visible distinguishing feature between the humans and the converted. You also wonder how William Hurt managed to get thousands of mirrors into his desert cave without anyone noticing. Plus, it's all very well for the aliens occupying bodies in nice American cities, but what about the poor sods allocated host bodies in drought-ridden Africa or the Amazon rain forests?

Still, it's more fun than the drippy Twilight series, and there's the cold horror of the idea of being trapped in your own body for years while an alien takes it over, which is far more disturbing than just dismembering it with an axe. A teen SF movie, not too dissimilar to I Am Number Four in tone but with an emphasis on a gloopy romantic triangle that's too-easily resolved at the end; and at over two hours it could have done with a substantial trim. Well enough done, no masterpiece but not awful either.


No comments: