Review: The Host by Jamie

Spoilers Ahead! You have been warned.

Fresh from poisoning the minds of one generation of young girls and another generation of creepy older women, the deranged writings of Stephanie Meyer are brought once more to the silver screen in the form of ‘The Host’. This time Meyer takes on the world of parasitic aliens ala ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ and I know what you’re asking already: “Does she bring the same level of creepiness to these alien parasites that she brought to Vampires and werewolves what with the silently watching a girl sleep in her room and the falling in love with a baby after it’s been torn from it’s mother by it’s father’s vampiric fangs?” Don’t worry dear reader, all will be revealed.

The story itself concerns a future in which most of humanity has been invaded by a race of aliens who lodge themselves somewhere near a persons brain and take over their body. There are few non-infected humans left, scattered around into various resistance groups. One girl, Melanie, is trying to get to one of these resistance groups with her younger brother Jamie and her boyfriend Jared when she is captured and has an alien implanted inside her. This alien, calling itself Wanderer, is questioned about the memories stored inside Melanie’s mind in an effort to try and find the resistance’s location.

Not all is right with Wanderer however. It turns out that Melanie is special and has such a strong will that she can’t be entirely subsumed by Wanderer which causes conflict in the mind of the alien. This conflict is played out by Wanderer talking to herself whilst Melanie’s voice is dubbed over with some of the worst voice over acting I have ever heard in my life. It’s incredibly over the top and makes the whole concept of the movie seem even more ridiculous than it already is which, and I remind you that this is a movie based on a novel by Stephanie Meyer, is already pretty fucking ridiculous.

Wanderer/Melanie manage to escape from the other alien infected humans and find their way to the desert base of the resistance led by Melanie’s Uncle Jeb. She is instantly met with mistrust but eventually, as more and more come to realise that Melanie is still alive inside her and that she is different from the other aliens, Wanderer comes to be accepted by the group and her name gets shortened to Wanda. This, of course, leads us to the romance that Stephanie Meyer is so renowned for making awkward and weird. In the Twilight series we had the love triangle between Bella, Edward and Jacob and in The Host we have a four-way romance. What is that? A love square? A love quadrangle? Whatever. We have Jared who is in love with Melanie and eventually Wanda falls for another resistance member by the name of Ian. Of course, since Melanie and Wanda share a body the whole thing is very awkward and silly with Melanie occasionally taking control of her right hand to slap Ian when he’s kissing Wanda and the like. You know, the kind of thing you might see in a wacky body-sharing comedy like ‘The Thing With Two Heads’ or, you know, an adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s adult romance novel ‘The Host’.

All the while Wanda is being sought by an alien called ‘Seeker’ because we might as well keep things simple for this movies intended audience which I assume is the severely brain damaged and those who like to keep fire as a pet. The other aliens tell Seeker that she should just give up, after all the resistance is small and will eventually die out by itself. It’s just not worth bothering with. It turns out however that Seeker is hunting Wanda because she too is having problems controlling her host and so she wants to find Wanda in order to… Well, I’m not sure actually. I’m sure there must have been some reason. Meanwhile Wanda finds out that the resistance are cutting the parasites out of the infected and killing them in order to try and make them human again. She is disturbed by this and instead shows how to do it in a way that leaves both host and parasite alive, an operation they eventually carry out on Seeker, sending the parasite back to the stars.

Anyway the whole love quadrangle is resolved when Wanda is removed from Melanie and placed in a braindead body, thereby bringing life to a body that had none. And so everything is wrapped up in a nice little package and the movie ends with more aliens and humans learning they can live together in harmony thereby giving hope to the future of our two species or some bullshit.

Jesus Fucking H. Testicle Blasting Christ this one was a struggle. As a film fan I’ve poked my fair share of fun at the Twilight series but, honestly, those things are fucking masterpieces compared to this piece of shit. I tried taking notes during it but they eventually just devolved into me writing THIS IS THE STUPIDEST FUCKING THING I’VE EVER SEEN over and over again. At least you can have fun taking the piss out of the Twilight films, I will give them that and Michael Sheen is awesome for the small amount of screen time he has but this… This isn’t even worth sitting through to try and make fun of it. There’s just nothing redeeming here. It’s a poorly acted, poorly written, though admittedly nicely shot, mess. Friends I have gazed into the mouth of madness and what I found waiting was The Host. Nothing really makes sense. The aliens claim that of all the bodies they’ve inhabited humans are among the trickiest because of their strong physical desires. I assume that they’re talking about our sex drive which, assuming that they’ve inhabited other species that reproduce sexually, should be a pretty common problem throughout the universe. Sex is what drives any species that reproduces that way, for fucks sake!

There are two problems which I consider to be insurmountable when it comes to this film. The first is that this is actually a fairly interesting concept. A human and an alien sharing a body and the complications they face could make for a really good film but here the story is so lacklustre and the whole thing is handled so poorly that it results in one of the worst science-fiction movies that I’ve ever seen. The second problem is that this film shares a title with an awesome 2006 South Korean film and now whenever I say “The Host is awesome!” I’m going to have to qualify that I’m talking about that film and not this pieces of shit.

Half a pint out of five because, again, it is shot quite nicely. Has Stephanie Meyer written anything else of consequence? Not really? Good. Hopefully that’s the end of that chapter. Laterz.

The Host

Review – The Hunger Games (2012) by Jamie

Warning: Possible light spoilers ahead.

There is a reason that I’m only now getting around to reviewing this film. I, like so many others who had no familiarity with the books, heard about this film and immediately saw it as nothing more than a terrible rip-off of our precious Battle Royale. Yes, we all felt pretty high and mighty with our ability to reference one of the most well known Japanese films that didn’t have a giant radioactive lizard in it. Weren’t we clever?

Of course, the idea of people being forced to kill each other wasn’t even really original when Battle Royale came out. Hell, the Romans were doing it even before Jesus Harold Christ was getting up to all kinds of japery in the desert. Yes, the idea of kids having to do it was a bit original but , although not forced to do so, children have been killing each other on a deserted island since at least 1954 thanks to William Golding. The point I believe that I’m belabouring here is that nothing’s original. At this point in human history, it’s all just variations on a theme.

The other reason that it took me so long to finally get around to watching this was the running time. This film is two hours and twenty-two minutes long. That’s a good chunk of time for me to dedicate to a film that I only have a passing interest in. Still I recently watched all of the Best Picture Nominees and most of them were long and I was only really interested in three of them, hence why my reviews for them kind of dried up. Honestly, I haven’t watched a film just for the sake of watching a film in a long time. It’s either been watching for the Oscars or watching terrible films for various bad film podcasts. I needed to watch a film just for the sake of watching a film. I decided to finally visit the nation of Panem.

The most basic synopsis I can give is this: In the future, America has become the dystopian nation of Panem, a nation made up of a capitol inhabited by the wealthy class which is surrounded by twelve districts, each one filled with an underclass who perform the various tasks required to keep the country going such as farming, mining, fishing etc.

A long ago rebellion of these poor folks was quashed by the Capitol and led to the formation of the eponymous Hunger Games in which each district must provide one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in a televised death match of which there can be only one survivor. The tributes, as they are called, are chosen on a day called ‘The Reaping’.

During the Reaping for the 74th Annual Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) of District 12’s younger sister is chosen on her first time being eligible. Katniss decides that she can’t allow this and volunteers to go in her place. And so she and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) are chosen to represent District 12 in a fight to the death.

There, I think that’s a fairly nice description of things. Now, I suppose the thing that surprised me most about this film is how much, for the most part, I enjoyed it. It’s actually a fairly decent entry into the ‘people forced to kill other people for the entertainment of others’ genre.

What I enjoyed most about the film was the amount of world building that went into it. I love me some world building. It’s one of the reasons I love Star Wars. Lucas can’t write dialogue for shit but if there’s one thing that he can do well it’s create a universe that’s satisfyingly different from out own whilst still being familiar. That’s something that The Hunger Games does to great effect too. It’s possible to see that this world could have descended from our own and there are obvious parallels to our history. The inhabitants of the Capitol are a class of people who don’t have to work. They wear ridiculous, unpractical costumes and watch TV shows about children killing each other because, well, what else are they going to do? I got a real opulence before the fall of Rome vibe from the whole thing. Oh, and if it turns out that this film is right and the future we’re headed for is one were “Gay Parisian Disco Clown” becomes a fashionable style then I too will be volunteering to enter the Games.

Yes, the setup of the world is really, really excellent and had me hooked into the film’s premise quite early on. The two leads playing District 12’s tributes are both excellent, Jennifer Lawrence in particular has an undeniable likeability that seems to come through in everything I’ve ever seen her in. The tertiary characters in these early scenes are also great with Woody Harrelson as an alcoholic former Games winner, Elizabeth Banks as one of the aforementioned Gay Parisian Disco Clowns, Stanley Tucci perfectly portraying a schmoozy talk show host and even Lenny Kravitz surprisingly bringing a nice emotional centre to the whole affair.

Unfortunately not everything can be great and things kinda go down hill once the actual show itself starts. Everything in this section of the film seems a bit rushed and I can imagine it’s all expanded upon in a great deal more detail in the book. Katniss forms relationships in this section that, in the time frame they develop within, seem completely unrealistic. I’ll admit that I believe that one of these relationships is merely played up for the cameras as Katniss believes it will give her a better chance of survival and I hope that the sequels prove this theory to be true or I’ll be greatly disappointed.

There’s also some really dodgy shaky cam, particularly during some of the very early scenes that almost had me turning the film off before I’d even begun to watch it due to it making me feel a little queasy. Yes, I’ll accept some shaky cam during an intense action scene but when you’re literally just showing an old, bearded man eating then I don’t think it’s really required. On the subject of filming techniques, there are also several times during the film were Katniss is injured or stung by hallucinatory wasps and the filmmaker decides to warp or cut the audio completely and play about with the focus for entirely too long. Again, this is fine maybe once during a film but if you repeat this trick one too many times it starts becoming nauseating rather than disorientating.

There’s also the problem that the film is a 12A and you’d think that that’d be detrimental for a film where many of the characters are supposed to slaughter each other but honestly there was a lot more violence shown than I originally expected and though you don’t see that much, it kind of works to the films advantage as the brief flashes of a stabbing hand and a scream actually cause your mind to fill in the blanks which, as Jaws taught us, is always more terrifying.

Oh, I do have one last criticism. Ropey looking CGI dogs with man faces? Piss off. They probably have an explanation in the book but they certainly don’t in the film and so they just come off as the director realising he’s run out of time so he really needs to wrap things up quickly.Oh, and the uniform of the peacekeeprs looks very low-budget early 70s sci-fi. Not really the kind of thing you can get away with in a post Stormtroopers world.

So there you have it. It’s not a film without flaws but I was pretty entertained throughout. I feel a lot of this is down to Jennifer Lawrence and just some genuinely interesting world building. I might even give the books a read now since I’m sure they expand on that aspect to an even greater degree. So yeah, if you’ve got a free afternoon or evening you there are worst ways you could spend your time. Three and a half out of five. Laterz and may the odds be ever in your favour.


Audio Review: Watchmen by Jamie

Yes, just me reading out my review that I wrote for the Watchmen. Was just gonna leave this on YouTube but fuck it, might as well post it here as well.

Review: Watchmen by Jamie

Read a review once: Man goes to movie. Movie is Batman and Robin. Makes him depressed. Makes life seem harsh and cruel. Makes him feel alone in neon world where what lies ahead is bat-nipples and ice puns. Reviewer said “Treatment is simple. Great film Watchmen is in town tonight. Go and see it. That should pick you up.” Man looks confused. Says “But, reviewer… Who watches the Watchmen?” Bad joke. Everybody boo. Throw fruit on stage. Curtains.

I went into this film ready to hate it. I went there ready to be pissed off that there was no squid, pissed off that it wasn’t exactly like the graphic novel. So did I hate it? Was I pissed off? Well, the answer is no. In fact, I really, really enjoyed it. Is it as good as the graphic novel? Of course not. You’re talking about adapting something that could be around 6 hours long and making it palatable for an average movie going audience. I mean seriously, what film is better than the book that proceeded it? Jaws? Well, yeah, OK Jaws. But still most of the time the books are always better than the films, so why is it that the Watchmen film is getting such harsh treatment from film critics and embittered fan-boys alike? As far as adaptations go, this is one of the more faithful ones I’ve ever seen. Hell, Jaws was less faithful to it’s source material and did people complain about that? No, because Jaws can do no wrong! Hmmm, seem to keep getting sidetracked here.

My point is you have to learn to separate the artistic formats. One is a film, destined for mass production and produced by a mass of people. The other is a comic, also made for mass production but there’s a smaller number of people involved in it’s creation, in this case just four, writer Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons, colourist John Higgins and editor Len Wein, though it could be argued that when it comes down to it this is really Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons baby. Anyway back to my point, a comic book can afford to be long. It can afford to explore certain things that a movie cannot because there’s no real restriction for how long it can last and, especially in the case of the Watchmen, there’s a much smaller creative team in charge of everything. A contained creative environment like this in which only a few people have to keep track of exactly what is going on can branch out into ways that a large production like a movie, with any changes having to be run by everyone, simply can’t afford to. Sacrifices have to be made. And in this case the sacrifices which didn’t seem to hurt the film at all. Sure, some people will say “Well then, if it couldn’t have been perfect the film shouldn’t have been made at all!” And you know what, person who says that, you’re a dick. The film has been made and you’re going to let your dogged loyalty to an item which is in no way effected by this movies existence blind you to the fact that it’s an entertaining film? Well, bully for you.

Now, is this film for everyone? Probably not. For the action seeker, there are some scenes of hyper-violent brawls but for the most part it’s a murder mystery that centres around the heroes thoughts and feelings rather than their ability to kick ass. I will say this though, I felt that the fighting scenes are among the weaker things in this film. The martial arts employed do look good and certainly wouldn’t be out of place in something like the Dark Knight but in a film about superheroes who are retired, for the most part, it just doesn’t seem right, especially from Night Owl II and The Comedian. It also seemed to me that it could give the impression that these people have super strength. It’d be understandable that they could be stronger than your average person but some of the stunts they pull here are perhaps just a bit too much.

So what about the characters? Are they well represented here? Well for the most part, I thought that the actors did a pretty good job. I’ve heard some complaints about Malin Akerman as Silk Spectre II but I can’t really comment without seeing the film again. I guess that means her performance just kinda breezed by me which, I suppose, says something. Someone whose performance didn’t just breeze by me, however, was that of Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the Comedian. He manages the difficult task of bringing a despicable character who you just can’t quite hate to the screen. When it comes to stealing the show, however, it’s Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach who really shines. He was my favourite character in the book and I’m glad that Haley really seemed to get him down. Even his voice was pretty much how I had heard Rorschach’s voice in my head when reading it. The fact that he was the only actor who’d read it before being cast probably really helped.

Perhaps the biggest challenge in terms of main characters was Dr. Manhattan, played by Billy Crudup. Not only do you have to create a glowing, blue god in image but you also have to give the impression that the character can see the past, present and future all at once and you have to convey the impression that he’s losing his touch with humanity. Overall, I don’t think I can fault Crudup’s performance. I think he managed to give Manhattan just the right amount of detachment without severing the link fully with his human past as was required. If I had to complain about anything with Dr. Manhattan, it’d be the effects used to bring him to life. There are times when the character touches another person, such as when shaking hands, that something about it just seems a little off, a little shaky. The same can be said when Manhattan is talking. There’s just something about the movement of his lips which just took me out of the movie a little. Then there is the issue of the good Doctor’s cock. Yes, I couldn’t go the whole review without mentioning it, so let’s just get it over with. The fact that Manhattan walks around so… freely, as it were, is just another way of showing his further detachment from human societal norms. However, I did feel that it was a little over used and sometimes just a little too lovingly animated. I didn’t really have a major problem with it but once more, it’s just something that can take you out of the movie a little.

Another thing which seems to have divided people about Watchmen is the choice of music. Now, I loved it, but then again I seemed to love every damn song that’s in that movie, even ‘99 Luftballons’, so I may be just a little biased. Still whatever you feel about the music in this film, you must admit that the opening with Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’ and the funeral scene with Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘The Sounds of Silence’ are awesome.

So that’s it for now. Hope to maybe do a group review of this in the pub at some point where we’ll go over a few more of the topics raised in criticism and praise of this film in a little more detail with a lot more booze. Until then, I’ll leave you with this: This movie could have been made by Fox. Have you seen the pictures of Deadpool from that Wolverine movie? Have you? What the fuck Fox?!? What the fuck have you done to my precious Merc With a Mouth?!? I curse and renounce you Fox and everything you stand for! Fuck you Fox! Fuck You! Ahem. Sorry about that. Laterz.

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