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Originally published March 28, 2013 at 10:56 AM | Page modified March 28, 2013 at 11:31 AM

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‘The Host’: A head-case, two heartthrobs and inadvertent humor

A review of “The Host,” a convoluted sci-fi love triangle based on a book by “Twilight” author Stephenie Meyer.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie Review 1.5 stars

‘The Host,’ with Saoirse Ronan, Jake Abel, Max Irons, Diane Kruger, William Hurt, Frances Fisher, Chandler Canterbury. Written and directed by Andrew Niccol, from the novel by Stephenie Meyer. 121 minutes. Rated PG-13 for some sensuality and violence. Several theaters.

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If you thought the love triangle in “Twilight” (girl/vampire/werewolf) was a little twisted, try this one on for size: Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan), one of the last humans remaining after Earth is overrun by devastatingly attractive aliens (the lead one is played by Diane Kruger), is captured, and her body becomes a “host” for an implanted alien known as Wanderer, later Wanda. (With me so far?) This should eradicate Melanie, but it doesn’t, and she and Wanderer have arguments inside her/their head, like Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin in “All of Me” but not quite as much fun. Off they go, in search of Melanie’s remaining family — and find not only Melanie’s former heartthrob Jared (Jake Abel), but another hottie named Ian (Max Irons), who quite likes Wanderer/Wanda for some reason. So, what we have here is not so much a triangle, but a love square, with three bodies, four identities, and no personalities.

The latest Stephenie Meyer adaptation comes by way of writer/director Andrew Niccol (“The Truman Show,” “In Time”), who tries to class things up by casting the talented Ronan, and by having William Hurt deliver perhaps the world’s slowest opening voice-over. But this material is just too silly, as confirmed by the giggles of a preview-night audience (not just mine, I promise). Everyone in the cast looks stricken and a little sleepy, like they just watched all four “Twilight” movies in a row; and even Ronan can’t do anything with lines like “If you could hold me in your hand, you’d be disgusted.” (No, I don’t know what that means.) The cast stands around in their earth-toned outfits waiting for doom, i.e. Kruger, to show up with her ponytail and kill them; while the romance fizzles, as well it might.

“This is very complicated,” says Melanie (or maybe Wanda) sweetly at one point; sing it, sister. “The Host” is like a confused guest who stays too long — but at least it’s good for a few laughs.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or

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