The Host-ess with the Least-ess.
There was definitely some kind of brain parasite thing happening in that theater. I just think it came from Hollywood, not outer space.
When I saw the trailer for the first time I thought it could be decent. The premise seemed OK like a more modern version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Then I saw it was based on a book by the bane-of-all-teenage-girls-IQ Stephanie Meyer and realized that the awful re-imagining that she did for vampires in Twilight she was about to do to aliens. She is like a virus that moves from nerd sub genre to nerd sub genre, infecting each one with sizzle chested man/boys and pasty bland emotionless fembots who the man/boys are desperate for for no discernible reason (when all available evidence kind of indicates that they should be more into each other).
The good news is that Kristen Stewart now has some serious competition in her quest to be named the blandiest porridge in the history of cinema (and humanity). I guess Hollywood has determined the optimum formula for vacuuming disposable income from teenie bopper girls purses and a big part of that is an actress who’s scenes could be more or less handled by a cardboard cutout of herself. However, I don’t want to be unfair to the actress Saoirse Ronan (Hanna, The Lovely Bones, Atonement). Her character is supposed to start out as an emotionless automaton and I guess I have seen her act in other films. We have plenty of proof outside of Twilight that Kristin Stewart is the acting equivalent of watching paint dry, so I guess I will have to see Saoirse in something else before casting my vote.
If I were to compile a list of Stephanie Meyer’s shortcomings as an author it would be a novel unto itself. However, there are a couple things that really stand out here. One is the fact that she does absolutely nothing to establish any motivation for any of the characters to do anything whatsoever. I will show some examples later on but I think when she writes she has a sub plot going on in her head that somehow doesn’t show up on the screen. Perhaps she does more to establish why Wanda would want to die or the head Seeker didn’t just jump to another body in her novel but I promise I would literally eat that book before reading it. When characters do something that goes against all previously established behavior and experience you need to lay out some kind of reason for them to do it besides the fact that it moves your anemic story along.
I am a fan of things that expose the masses of humanity in general and young ladies specifically to nerdy things, which is why I more or less gave Warm Bodies a bye. However, as an introduction to the world of Sci Fi this film is Babies First Alien Movie (as well as Babies First Dialog, Story, and Plot). The thing that people who don’t really get science fiction (I’m looking at you, Ms. Meyer) seem to always miss is that the word science is in there. In other words, while having something be fanciful is totally cool there has to be some kind of link to reality. This is why on Star Trek they talk about the Warp Core, or in the Empire Strikes Back they spend half the movie trying to fix the dilapidated hyperdrive on the Millennium Falcon (Falcon image courtesy of the Star Wars T Shirt category). In this film they more or less created a sci fi-ish world with no attempt to establish how it was created or how the aliens even function. The story is left riddled with plot holes and demands too much of your suspension of disbelief.
Let me elaborate a little on the plot holes. OK, so alien dandelions come to Earth. They can take over a human by cutting the side of the neck and entering the brain of the host. They arrive in a big grid that looks like a slow motion Lazerium show. How exactly did the very first alien get in the first human? Without a host they are about as effective as a mild fart and can be crushed in a person’s hand, so how did they even get a foothold on this planet? OK, so let’s assume the first human they met up with was some kind of idiot and ingested one. The aliens (called Souls) are all hundreds of years old and act like one of them dying is the worst thing in the universe. They live in total peace and harmony with everything and hate violence. How exactly did they conquer the planet? Did all of humanity forget how to use guns? There is a scene early on where four Seekers are coming up with a guy. He has a revolver and uses it to kill himself rather than be taken, but all the Seekers ever seem to use is a knock out spray that has a range of about a foot. It is shown later on that bullets kill infected humans and last time I checked 6 bullets > 4 Seekers so why didn’t the guy just cap them? If a Soul dying is the worst thing ever what happened to the billions they must have lost trying to conquer this planet?
See, I would buy a parasite that conquers the planet if the movie makers had made the slightest effort to establish the parameters of how this happened but I guess that would have taken away from valuable emotionless screen time. Telling us that the Souls have conquered the world loses credibility when you see one get knocked out by a little girly man and bundled into a truck for vivisection.
I want to bitch about one more thing before I get into the story. The point of the movie is the main character gets infected by a Soul but is able to communicate with with her. The Soul uses the girls noise hole to speak but the girl trapped in her head just speaks in her head. This could have been done any number of ways but the movie makers did the laziest thing possible by just playing the girls voice loudly every time she needed to say something. Have you ever gone to the movies and had some bratty 16 year old girl yelling at the screen every three seconds right next to your ear? If so you know what watching this movie is like. I would have been much happier with a subtitle of some kind. The funny thing is the voice over emoted about 100 times the emotion as the actual girl on the screen.
Anyway, the story. Humanity has been conquered by glowing dust bunnies who turn your eyes silver and live in total peace. A young girl named Melanie (Saorie) is captured and infected with one named Wanderer. Apparently these aliens are the universes biggest tourists ever and travel from world to world like retirees going from Las Vegas to Branson. Malenie can still speak to her and occasionally act out. Wanderer is interviewed by a Seeker (Rachel Roberts-In Time, S1m0ne, How to Seduce Difficult Women) who wants to use her hosts memories to track down the other rebel humans who appear to pose no threat whatsoever to the ruling order. Melanie is concerned with protecting her brother (Chandler Canterbury-Knowing, the Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Repo Men) and her boyfriend Jared (Max Irons-Red Riding Hood, Dorian Grey, Being Julia). Melanie convinces her parasite to help them and they escape and drive off into the desert, where she wrecks the car and leaves them stranded. They wander the desert and get picked up by her Uncle Jeb (William Hurt-Iron Man, Dark City, a History of Violence) and a bunch of rebel humans.
They all want to kill her but Jared is there and still loves her. She gets taken back to their cave. One guy in particular named Ian (Jake Abel-Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, the Lovely Bones, I am Number Four) wants her dead but then falls in love with her for no reason. At that point she is a bland actress being wooed by two different hot young guys for whom she has similar emotions (does that at all sound familiar?). Meanwhile the Seekers are on their asses. Turns out the humans have been vivisecting infected humans in an attempt to get the parasites out (finally a plot point I can agree with) but it only results in the death of both. Wanderer (now shortened to Wanda) shows them out to coax the Souls out with love instead of scalpels but in payment wants to die (?? Remember all that missing character motivation? There was a lot of it but this was the highlight). Now all the humans have to do is capture every infected human on the planet and happy the aliens out of them. Win! Also Stephanie pulls another inanely happy ending out of the deepest recesses of her ass.
The stars. Hmm. I’m at a loss. The acting was crap. The sci fi tertiary at best. The story sucked. The action was extremely limited and about as exciting as watching Youth Soccer when you don’t have a kid playing. I suppose I like William Hurt. One star. Also the Seekers used chrome plated Lotus’s as police cars which technically makes them the coolest cops since Robocop. One star. Total: two stars.
The black holes. The acting was crap. One black hole. The sci fi tertiary at best (do me a favor and treat sci fi with respect, not a cheesy tool with which to build a lame star crossed romance on). One black hole. The chemistry between the two guys and the girl needed some coffee (or a massive dose of crystal meth). Pulseless. One black hole. What action there was looked like they added it only under protest. Somewhere along the line a producer with a few brain cells said “Hey, there is absolutely nothing going on in this movie except some lame chick talking to herself. Film a gun fight quick!”. One black hole. Plot holes a go go. One black hole. The pacing dragged on and on. 125 minutes and you will feel every one of them. One black hole. The voice over inner voice thing drove me nuts the whole time. One black hole. No character motivation. One black hole. An extra black hole for the whole “coax them out with love” thing. Made zero sense. One black hole. Plus a really pointless and stupid ending with an obvious hook at making a sequel. One black hole. Total: ten black holes.
So a final total of eight black holes. It is at times like this that I find myself happy with the American movie audience. You see this movie tanked hard, opening with less than 1/6th of the sales of Twilight. Should you see it? No not really. It is everything you hated in Twilight sans vampires. If you are a sweaty Stephanie Meyer fan I suppose, or just want to have the barest exposure to science fiction without the danger of actually meeting some nerds. However, if you are that type of person I don’t know what you are doing here anyway. Have fun at your mall of choice. Date movie? Only if you plan to become the lamest couple ever. Bathroom break? Literally anywhere you like, and by that I mean feel free to go on the movie projector. Someone in the audience will thank you.
Thanks for reading. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. Feel free to post comments on this movie or my review here. Off topic questions or suggestions can be emailed to email@example.com. More to see soon so check back later this week. By the way I am just back from WonderCon where I had a great time. I met a bunch of really cool artist and comic publishers and am going to try to throw them some link love. I met this girl named Stephanie Gladden who does a cool comic called Girls of Monster Paradise. She used to work at Cartoon Network and her art has a very Johnny Bravo look to it that I appreciate. Check it out.