VIDEO: MOVIES: REVIEW: The Host (2013)

Clio: 4.6/5 stars, 8.6/10.
Carolyn: 5/5 stars, 9/10.
Jesse: 3.4/5 stars, 7/10.
Evan: 4.1/5 stars, 8/10.
Native ratings: 3.7/5 stars Netflix, /10 IMDB.

Written & directed by Andrew Niccol, which had me hyped up to see the movie! We’ve seen every movie he’s directed (Gattaca, Lord Of War, In Time, S1m0ne), and also half the movies he wrote-but-didn’t-direct (The Truman Show, but not The Terminal). It is all excellent stuff, though we enjoyed some (In Time) more than others (Lord Of War, S1m0ne).

This movie, strangely, is based on a novel by Stephenie Meyer, the woman who wrote the Twilight Trilogy. Really?? This knowledge alone causes a lot of people to hate on the movie without watching it. Such sheep behavior is sad to witness.

This is Twilight-esque in the sense that teen romance is inserted into a genre that it is not normally so prevalent in. Is that a crime? Is mixing genres a crime? Should an action movie have no comedy? Should a comedy movie have no romance? Should a horror movie have no comedy?

So yes, this is a sci-fi movie about parasitic symbiotes taking over the planet by taking our bodies from us, but it is focused more on a few specific characters, and the love story that ties them together. There are no explosions or big gun fights. It’s about a race taking over humans and controlling them. They aim to live along with us and bring us further than we would get left to our own devices, but they also basically genocide us by killing our consciousnesses and replacing them with their own.

But some of us resist. The alien parasite hears the voice of the original human in their mind. It’s rare. And that is the case here.

Apparently a lot of people just reduce that to “watching a girl talk to herself”, which is a sad reducto absurdum applied to an idea that is actually far more interesting than that. I think it requires a litte bit of empathy that some people don’t have. I don’t find it a valid complaint.

There is REALLY a lot of hate here. The anti-Stephanie Meyer bandwagon is kind of pathetic. It’s like they are scared that someone might like something she’s involved in, because it would invalidate their own opinions — which are often themselves based on groupthink and expressed by people who have never seen one of her movies or read one of her books.

Fuck those guys. This was a great sci-fi, and had an unexpectedly interesting emotional/relationship angle, that most sci-fi movies don’t have. Good for Andrew Niccol — keeping his track record intact. Good for Stephanie Meyer — improving her track record, which needs it.

Evan: “I really liked the concepts and the story was good, but I’m going to have to knock it down a bit for the cheesy teen-movie moments.”

Saoirse Ronan (Hanna from Hanna, the voice of Arriety in The Secret World of Arrietty) as Melanie Stryder / Wanda.
Diane Kruger (Adult Anna in Mr. Nobody, Inglourious Basterds, National Treasure, Helen in Troy) as The Seeker / Lacey.
Chandler Canterbury (Repo Men, Benjamin as age 8 in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) as Jamie, Melanie’s little brother.
Jake Abel (Luke in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief) as Ian O’Shea, [highlight for spoilers] Wanda’s love interest.
Max Irons (Dorian Gray, 9 eps of The White Queen) as Jared Howem, Melanie’s boyfriend.
William Hurt (The Village, The Incredible Hulk, Dark City) as Jeb, Melanie’s uncle.
Frances Fisher (Sex & Death 101, 1 ep of Childrens Hospital) as Maggie, Melanie’s aunt.
Scott Lawrence (The Social Network, Avatar, Cloverfield, Star Trek Into Darkness, 2 eps of 24, Darth Vader in a bunch of Star Wars video games) as Doc.
Rachel Roberts (Simone in S1m0ne, In Time) as Soul Fleur.
Marcus Lyle Brown (Snatched) as Healer Fords.
J.D. Evermore (Django Unchained) as Trevor Stryder.

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1517260/combined

VIDEO: MOVIE: REVIEW: S1m0ne (2002)

Clint: 3.6/5 stars, 7/10.
Carolyn: 4/5 stars, 8/10.
Native ratings: IMDB: 6.1/10. Netflix: 3/5 stars.

Watched this to see the remaining unwatched Andrew Niccol-directed movie, after really loving In Time, The Truman Show, and Gattaca. (Though I liked Lord Of War way less than the other 3.)

What a great post-modern idea: Computer-generated actors becoming popular without the public realizing it — and of course between when the movie came out and now, it’s happened in real life, at least once, specifically in Japan with a pop singer who turned out to be a computer-generated composite of several band members: http://gawker.com/5814822/japans-newest-pop-star-revealed-to-be-computer+generated-fake .

A great idea, but this movie didn’t explore the technosociological implications of the idea as much as I hoped. It was more about Al Pacino getting in over his head (“Say hello to my cgi friend!”), and how crazily the public can be easily manipulated. That made it not quite fulfill my own made-up internalized potential hope for what this movie should be (somethign I always advice against people having in the first place). Carolyn wasn’t bothered by that as much. Maybe I shouldn’t be.

Still a good movie.

Very interesting that Andrew Niccol married the woman who played Simone — who was not originally credited in the credits, leaving people to think she truly was computer-generated in the movie. (They were going to do it, but the Screen Actors’ Guild pressured them into not doing it, for fear that it would be the end of all actors, much like what the movie depicted.) This movie also has Catherine Keener (surprisingly playing a light, non-bitchy, warm person), Winona Ryder, and a way-younger Evan Rachel Wood.

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0258153/

VIDEO: MOVIE: REVIEW: In Time (2011)

5/5 stars from both of us, 9/10 from Clint, 9.6/10 from Carolyn.
6.6/10 on IMDB.

Written & director by the writer/director of The Truman Show and Lord Of War — who also directed Gattaca.

This movie wins based solely on its incredible concept — a world where everyone has a 1-year death-clock countdown starting at age 25, and the only currency used to buy things is time. More time to be alive.

People in the ghetto with one day left to live, struggling to earn another day. Muggers who steal your time. Rich people who have thousands of years of time. There’s a metaphor for Occupy Wall Street in this, and this movie also has some parallels to The Hunger Games: A future, freedom-crushing society that benefits some at the expense of others.

Like the real world. But with a currency based directly on consequences, rather than hiding behind the complication of dollars-and-cents currency.

Also, it’s neat to see Amanda Seyfried as more than just a ditzy blonde… Here she looks like a red-headed girl from Tron. Didn’t even realize it was her. She rocks the medium-red hair!
And Justin Timberlake has slowly become tolerable, which is in itself an utterly amazing feat.

In the end, never in my movie-watching life have I seen so much macroeconomic justice dispensed by two people. Yay.

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1637688/