I’m of two minds on this film. It has plenty of elements that appealed to me and more than a few that drove me batshit crazy while watching it. Some basic facts first.
1. I have not read (nor do I intend to) the source material. Unlike Beautiful Creatures this didn’t drive me to need to read it.
2. I have not read Twilight (nor will I).
3. I have seen all of the Twilight films (by choice).
Writer/Director Andrew Niccol (Lord of War, Truman Show) has a love affair with Sci Fi concepts but something always goes wrong with the final production. The films would fall completely flat if not for a few saving graces here and there. Be it studio interference, trailers that are lousy, or perhaps his directing? I do not know. In his hands once again the film which could have so much potential never quite reaches it.
The failure however, I blame on the source material. I was hoping after the Twilight novels Stephanie Meyer had taken a correspondence course in writing. Sadly, my hope was dashed like a Tripod against the ruins of a plague ridden New York (that’s a non Host reference, but Sci Fi related). This woman is clearly and deeply in need of a Menage Trois. She apparently needs to have her female protagonist follow the same elements:
1. She’s ready for action when Male #1 isn’t.
2. Male #1 must put up token argument against.
3. There’s a male #2 who is ready and willing.
4. Female protagonist wants both.
5. She’s a Mary Sue.
That said the movie isn’t all bad. It is quite literally saved by the talents of young irish actress Saoirse Ronan (the Lovely Bones, Hanna) and actor Jake Abel (I Am Number Four, Percy Jackson) bring the most heart and soul to this film. Their relationship most of all and interactions between Ian, Melanie and Wanderer bring the most entertainment into what would otherwise be a rather plodding paint by numbers invasion of the body snatchers.
There are some highly irritating directorial, scripting or editing failures I cannot forgive. The movie showcases the most bizarre case of Stockholm syndrome I have ever seen. The film does not earn some of the beats in the final act. I find that a cardinal sin as there is much they could have done.
As we are dealing with both Melanie and Wanderer in Melanies head there is quite a bit of voice over work in the film. Many other reviews have ripped that element apart. I enjoyed it save for the volume and reverb put on it; however it doesn’t take it far enough. See the cardinal sin above. It also hosts (pun intended) the largest logic fail in the film – “We can’t tell them I’m alive in here….they won’t believe it.” – yet….everyone does??
So where does that leave us? (TL;DR crowd, this is what you want)
We have a middle to high concept movie that executes as well as the material that inspired it. All the flaws in dialogue and plot can be pointed there. The acting is what I expected, the cinematography is sufficient. The love story more bearable than the other film inspired by this novelists work. A single look from Ian (Jake Abel) in the final act shows more emotion than Kristen Stewart AND Robert Pattinson did in all the twilight films combined.
If you are a fanatic about the books – Give it a matinee or a pass
If you enjoyed the book – Give it a shot
If you are a teen or like paranatural teen romance – You should be good.
If you hate Twilight. – Wave off, wave off.
If you don’t like your love stories with the paranatural – Negative Ghost Rider, the pattern is full
If you didn’t want to see it before, don’t see it now. Otherwise, Matinee it up. It’s not as horrible as other reviewers make it out to be.