The Host

  • Review Date: March 27, 2013
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 2013

Common Sense Media says

Lots of kisses, but "Twi"-fi thriller isn't that compelling.
  • Review Date: March 27, 2013
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 2013

Age(i)

2
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5
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7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The positive message is that people will band together and fight for their freedom, even when it looks like all is lost. Humanity -- in all of its flawed complexity -- is exalted for its will to live, to survive. Other themes include the power of the sibling bond, self reliance, and friendship.

Positive role models

Melanie refuses to allow herself to be fully absorbed by her alien parasite. She makes her thoughts and feelings known and implores her body's alien (called Wanda) to help her keep her loved ones safe. Uncle Jeb, Ian, and Jamie are able to accept Wanda and the fact that Melanie is still alive in Wanda's consciousness. Wanda is an alien but is willing to empathize with Melanie and her friends.

Violence

Melanie throws herself through a window as a suicidal act, plunging to her apparent death -- but she lives long enough to be implanted with a parasitic alien. A young boy cuts himself deeply with a sickle. Another character cuts herself (with bloody results) to get a doctor to heal her (part of a larger plan). The body count includes alien "Souls" and humans who are shot or sacrifice themselves in a car crash. Characters have guns (and there's a sword), and weapons are discharged and used to hold people at gunpoint. Some chase/pursuit scenes. Some slapping and yelling between characters; one character tries to strangle another. Humans are opened up to insert the aliens.

Sex

Lots of passionate kissing/touching between different couples, and some allusions to sex. There are also a couple of scenes that make it clear that Melanie and Jared were intimate (in one of them, Jared is shirtless, and his entire back down to his tailbone is visible on the bed). A character wears a suggestive nightgown in an early scene.

Language

A couple of uses of "hell," "damn," "ass," and "oh God" (as an exclamation), plus insults hurled at Wanderer -- "it," "thing," "parasite."

Consumerism

Mercedes, Jeeps, and Lotus vehicles are prominently displayed in several scenes.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that even though author Stephenie Meyer intended her sci-fi novel The Host for adult readers, the big-screen adaptation is just as teen friendly as the Twilight saga -- but with aliens instead of supernatural characters. There's a whole lot of passionate kissing, and two young adult characters (in the book, they're specifically described as an older teenage girl and her twentysomething boyfriend) who are revealed to be lovers share a couple of mild sex scenes (mostly just making out in bed, with the man barechested). Given the genre, it's not unusual that there's also violence: People (both alien and human) are shot, commit suicide, and gravely injured. But as in all of Meyer's stories, there's a happily ever after, as well as themes of humans banding together to fight for their freedom and the ability to live and survive.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In the near future, a race of nomadic parasitic aliens -- called "Souls" -- have taken over humanity. The jellyfish-looking aliens are injected into humans, whose minds are then suppressed as the aliens take control, turning their hosts' eyes silver. Melanie Stryker (Saoirse Ronan), a member of the dwindling human resistance, purposely diverts a group of aliens by throwing herself out a window. But she survives and is implanted with her new alien Soul, Wanderer. Unlike other human hosts who fade away completely, Melanie's consciousness continues to speak to Wanderer and persuades her to evade her alien interrogator (Diane Kruger) and go to the desert hideout where Melanie's boyfriend, Jared (Max Irons), and little brother, Jamie (Chandler Canterbury), are staying. Only they don't see Melanie -- just the alien who's taken her body. Slowly, Wanderer -- dubbed Wanda by Melanie's wise uncle Jeb (William Hurt) -- starts to make alliances, including a confusing attraction to Ian (Jake Abel), Jared's more open-minded friend.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

As sci-fi movies go, THE HOST is one part Invasion of the Body Snatchers and three parts maudlin romance. Director Andrew Niccol doesn't bother with much world building except for the fact that the pacifist Souls all have a thing for wearing shades of white and driving souped-up silver Lotuses; there's no real explanation for the hypocrisy of a supposedly pacifist alien race thinking that it's all right to parasitically control an entire species. And while reading the back and forth between Wanderer and Melanie made perfect sense in the book, the movie translates that by having a narrated dialogue with two different inflections -- Wanderer's smooth tones and Melanie's faux Louisianan accent.

While teen (and adult) viewers who are only interested in the steamy kisses and the mind-bending love quadrangle will be content, most audiences will laugh at The Host's unintentionally funny moments -- like pretty much every time the Melanie voice speaks. Ronan, who's riveting in films like Atonement and Hanna, is deserving of better, although at the very least she manages to pull off her romantic moments with both Melanie's love Jared and Wanda's suitor Ian with conviction. Too bad the movie is more of a frothy alien romance than a true science-fiction thriller.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about alien movies and their enduring popularity. How does The Host compare to other invasion/take-over movies in which the aliens are more overtly violent?

  • Stephenie Meyer has said that the book The Host was based on isn't YA but rather a sci-fi romance for grown-ups. Are there any aspects of the movie or story that you think make it more appealing to adults than teens? How do you think this story compares to Meyer's Twilight series?

  • Book fans, what characters or plot points do you wish had been included in the movie? Which changes did you like?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 29, 2013
DVD release date:July 9, 2013
Cast:Diane Kruger, Max Irons, Saoirse Ronan
Director:Andrew Niccol
Studio:Open Road Films
Genre:Science Fiction
Topics:Book characters, Space and aliens
Run time:121 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some sensuality and violence

This review of The Host was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written by Swim3456 March 29, 2013
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

very good movie, but the book is better

I have read the book and absolutely LOVED it. I was so excited to see the movie. I was not too disappointed. It was very well acted and well done. it was true to the book, but did leave some good stuff out of it. I enjoyed it very much. There is very little violence, but there is some. Almost zero swearing and sex, only kissing. I could go on and on about the book and how i ship O'Wanda and Jelanie (lol sorry to people who are confused), and stuff like that, but that has absolutely no relevance to how appropriate the movie is. So, it is a very good movie, and definitely appropriate for anybody over the age of 10. But read the book first!!!!!!!

What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Teen, 14 years old Written byJTDB March 28, 2013
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Some screenwriters are murderers.

*SPOILERS*

This movie absolutely murdered the book.
I loved the book The Host ( I have read it many times and know parts off by heart) and this movie almost ruined the book for me. I did keep in mind, and you should too, that this is a movie adaption of a book so it is bound to be lacking somewhere and in my opinion movies are never as detailed or in depth as the book but this movie was almost unacceptable.
The director and screen writer missed IMPORTANT scenes and events such as Wanda's face getting half grazed off on the rock wall, they did a terrible job of covering her and Kyle's fight (when he tried to kill her), then there was no tribunal or soccer match to lift tension. There was no Wanda helping Walter as he was dying. There wasn't even a Walter in the movie. Also they missed the best quote/part in the book; when Ian says to Wanda something along the lines of "It's not the face but the expressions on it, It's not the voice but the words you say with it" There was nothing of that sort. Also the only characters actually named in the movie were: Wanda, Mel, Jared, Ian, Jaimie Kyle, Jeb, Maggie and 'The Seeker' or Lacey (who managed to wake up and remember her name straight away). Lily, Aaron, Brandt, Wes, Walter and all the other humans in the resistance weren't mentioned.

So all in all, this is an amazing book and the film did not do Stephanie Meyer's work justice.

What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 15 years old Written byiPunk March 29, 2013
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Unrelatable story can be relatable when you think

Melanie jumped out of a window, and said she's wanted to kill herself, because she was about to be taken over by aliens. People commit suicide for many reasons. One that people talk about the most is bullying. She didn't want to put up with being an alien, so that's what she wanted to do. Considering the fact that being an alien meant people firing there guns at you and drive-by shootings involving the Seekers (an evil group trying to take over all the humans). Drive by shootings have often been connected to gang activity, which often lure little kids into doing some of the dirty work (Same as in my review for Snitch) That is terrible because a majority of the kids that get lured into gangs are too young to know any better. There government was terrible, so the apple didn't fall far from the tree. Wanda was a good leader to the place she found in a desert, so there is an upside.

What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence

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