Oscar-winning writer/director Bill Condon’s adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is (at the time of writing this) the most popular film playing in theaters around the U.S.; another respectable filmmaker in the form of Andrew Niccol (Gattaca), is in the process of bringing another one of the author’s popular novels to life – namely, The Host.
Niccol has already secured an excellent young actress (Saoirse Ronan) to headline his Host adaptation; now, he’s looking to bring an Oscar-winner onboard for one of the film’s pivotal supporting roles.
Meyer’s The Host revolves around an alien invasion, where humans are taken over by parasites that insert themselves into their brains – and, in the process, cure diseases, end wars, and bring peace to Earth. 20-year-old Melanie Stryder (Ronan) is among those people who refuse to accept the extraterrestrial-controlled paradise; she even manages to resist her own “host” (name Wanderer) and convinces the creature to go look for her missing loves ones.
Hurt is in line to portray Jeb, Melanie’s eccentric uncle and a leader of the human resistance against the other-worldly invaders. Additional important players in the film include Max Irons as Melanie’s boyfriend, Jared Howe, and Jake Abel as Ian O’Shea, a young man who eventually develops feelings for Wanderer… even though the alien, because of her (bizarre) connection to Melanie, is physically forced to love Jared instead.
On that note – Irons and Abel are no strangers to films that include Twilight-inspired young adult romances (see: their respective parts in Red Riding Hood and I Am Number Four). Take that as you will.
Andrew Niccol-scripted projects tend to vary from very good (The Truman Show, Gattaca) to passable (The Terminal, In Time); likewise, when he also directs, the results can vary. Although his films always revolve around thought-provoking scenarios and concepts, it’s the execution that Niccol sometimes has problems with.
So, while Niccol’s involvement with The Host adaptation makes sense, it could be construed as a mixed blessing. That the filmmaker has to partially work within the confines of Meyer’s source material doesn’t help matters, especially since that book (like Twilight) is a work that people seem to either love or hate (sometimes just on principle).
That said – Meyer’s Host novel doesn’t inspire the sort of passionate negativity that her Twilight series does, and some of the ideas it broaches are fairly intriguing. If Niccol is on his A-game as a filmmaker and manages to bring out the best (acting) in people like Ronan and Hurt, then the tale of Melanie Stryder could go over better with non-Meyer fans than the tale of Bella Swan has managed to.
The Host is slated to hit U.S. theaters on March 29th, 2013.