I know you’re upset—here you thought that you’d be done with Stephenie Meyer once The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 comes out in November, only to find out that her non-Twilight novel The Host is being made into a movie. And while diehard sci-fi fans might have a problem with Meyer dipping her toe into that genre, it should be made clear that The Host is not the same as Twilight. Just because one book series was laughably awful and perpetuated a terrifyingly sexist and controlling message, doesn’t mean that the next adaptation should be boycotted.
MTV News released their set visit video today, and this movie legitimately looks good. Josh Horowitz went to New Mexico to chat with star Saoirse Ronan (talk about a great get!) and Meyer about translating the book’s dual heroines to the big screen, as well as the engaging sets like the massive cave where the humans hide out. It might be that Twilight‘s unmerited fame allows us to see an actually good story in movie form. Here are the talking points that will hopefully help sway you into actually going to see The Host on March 29, 2013.
Andrew Niccol is writing and directing. I’m a huge fan of Niccol, who has brought us engaging speculative-fiction tales like Gattaca and last year’s In Time (which, even though it dipped into the cheesy, was still a dynamic idea). He’s brought us riveting characters like Ethan Hawke‘s genetic “have-not” and Jude Law‘s tortured paraplegic; I would trust him to make heroine Melanie Stryder, and her alien “soul” Wanderer, equally compelling. So, imagine his work layered on top of the existing summary:
The Host is a riveting story about the survival of love and the human spirit in a time of war. Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy. Humans become hosts for these invaders, their minds taken over while their bodies remain intact. Most of humanity has succumbed.
Doesn’t sound like he can fuck it up, right?
The heroine is actually nuanced. Bella Swan wouldn’t make it two days in this world where aliens take over humans’ bodies. Instead we have Mel, one of the only hosts to rebel against her alien “soul” Wanderer, as the two become unwitting allies and eventually friends. In the set visit video, Saoirse discusses how she’s been doing her own stunts in a harness, including jumping off a thirty-foot balcony. Compare that to New Moon, when Bella jumped off a cliff because she was depressed about Edward leaving.
Max Irons plays the love interest. That’s right, a flesh-and-blood man, not two supernaturally gifted boys. (No matter what you say about Edward being 100+ years old, he pretends to be a 17-year-old. Eww.) Max plays Jared Howe, Melanie’s former lover who struggles simultaneously against instincts to kill Wanderer (because he’d kill Mel, too) or to kiss Mel (because he’d kiss Wanderer, too).
This isn’t your standard love triangle. Yes, there are technically two guys that Saoirse Ronan is involved with, but it’s not what you think: Jared loves Mel, while Ian O’Shea (Jake Abel) has fallen for Wanderer. One review says there isn’t any sex in the book — guess we’ll have to keep reading Fifty Shades of Grey for that — but there are clearly darker themes at play here.
Anyway, you’ve got a year to make your decision! And by then, Twilight will be a distant, unpleasant memory anyway.