The Host (2013) review

Two’s a crowd for Saoirse Ronan

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On paper, The Host has the potential to exceed the low expectations that traditionally accompany a Stephenie Meyer adaptation.

Writer-director Andrew Niccol ( Gattac a) is working in his preferred genre after all, a claim few of the Twilight directors could make.

Furthermore, Saoirse Ronan has already played a teenager on the lam with some distinction in Hanna. Unfortunately, the source material is abysmal: a half-baked sci-fi tale in which most of humanity has been body-snatched by celestial larvae.

Detailing the precise rules that govern this fictional universe proves a challenge, especially as they’re broken or rewritten almost as soon as they’re established.

Compounding the dismal storytelling is Niccol's general disregard for narrative structure and pacing. Resistance fighter Melanie (Ronan) has barely been introduced before she’s captured and reduced to serving as ìhostî for an extraterrestrial.

Yet Melanie refuses to go quietly, leaving Ronan with the unenviable task of bickering with her own voiceover for the remainder of the uneventful running time.

Things become particularly tetchy - and - more risible - once Melanie and her mental flatmate have designs on different boys (Max Irons and Jake Abel, indistinguishable).

Steven Spielberg famously retained his childhood sense of wonder. On this evidence, Meyer has maintained a nine-year-old's notion of titillating romance.