The mere phrase “adaptation of a Stephenie Meyer novel” is more than enough to send shivers rippling down the spine of many a Twilight hater out there. However, there’s no denying the popularity of Meyer’s supernatural romance series – and now another one of her popular works, The Host, hopes to have similar success as a cinematic vehicle.
Meyer’s Host is a sci-fi tale being adapted for the big screen by screenwriter/director Andrew Niccol (The Truman Show, Gattaca) – and now the film has found its leading lady in the form of Oscar-nominee Saoirse Ronan.
In this tantalizing SF thriller, planet-hopping parasites are inserting their silvery centipede selves into human brains, curing cancer, eliminating war and turning Earth into paradise. But some people want Earth back, warts and all, especially Melanie Stryder, who refuses to surrender, even after being captured in Chicago and becoming a host for a soul called Wanderer. Melanie uses her surviving brain cells to persuade Wanderer to help search for her loved ones in the Arizona desert.
As Deadline – which confirmed the news about Ronan – pointed out, Meyer’s novel does not immediately lend itself to an adaptation in a more visual medium; a good chunk of the book is primarily devoted to the literal psychological battle between Melanie and Wanderer. Then again, Danny Boyle managed to turn the story of a man with his arm stuck under a rock (127 Hours) into a captivating and energetic drama – so maybe Niccol can do likewise with Meyer’s source material.
Ronan has already proven herself to be a powerful and versatile actress in many a moviegoer’s eye; she’s done credible work, portraying characters ranging from an imaginative but jealous child (Atonement) to an efficient killing machine (Hanna). Combine her presence with Niccol penning the script – and possibly directing as well, since he’s completed work on his new sci-fi film, Now – and there’s good reason to actually be excited about a film adaptation of The Host.
This does, however, bring me to what doesn’t sound so appealing about a Host movie – namely, Meyer’s source material. It sounds as though the book (and fans, feel free to correct me) essentially boils down to a Garden of Eden allegory, as told through the framework of a story about a teenage girl who wants to be reunited with her family – and (more importantly, I suspect) her boyfriend, who loves her unconditionally (*cough*).
Now the metaphorical side of The Host plot is all good and fine – it’s been explored well enough many times before in the sci-fi genre. All the same, do we really need another sappy tween romance tale that panders to the same crowd as titles like I Am Number Four or Twilight? Film of that ilk have yet to feature fully-developed male or female lead characters, and have so far proven to be mediocre, at best.
On the other hand: I would say that Ronan has so far proven herself to be a much more capable actress than Kristen Stewart – who, admittedly, does better in non-Twilight movies – and Niccol is very adept at crafting clever sci-fi stories. So, for the time being, I’m still listening.
We’ll keep you posted on the status of The Host as more information is released.