In the future, hunger, violence and money have disappeared. Lying is unthinkable. Stealing is pointless. Because we’re all wearing spotless white suits and driving shiny Lotus Evoras. Well, a lot of us are.
Humanity has been “perfected,” thanks to the aliens. They came, they moved in — not just onto the planet but into our bodies. And now the human race is all but extinct, our bodies governed by the seemingly benign conquerors. Free will dies as our corpses become “hosts” to the “souls” of those who apparently know what’s best for us.
But Melanie (Saoirse Ronan) resists this body snatching. She wars with the old soul, “Wanderer,” who has invaded her mind. Melanie wants to shake free of the alien bonds, then find her younger brother, her boyfriend (Max Irons) and the resistance movement they’ve run off to join.
That’s the world of “The Host,” Stephenie Meyer’s follow-up to “Twilight.” On screen it’s just another chaste, action-starved and absurdly talky action-romance. And it has to be. Most of the movie is an argument that takes place inside poor Melanie’s head.
Writer-director Andrew Niccol (“In Time,” “Gattaca”) finds some laughs in this anti-cinematic situation. And Ronan (“Hannah,” “Lovely Bones”) struggles gamely against the limitations of staging bickering interior dialogues. (“This body is MINE.” “If only I could HURT you.”)
Melanie cannot hurt Wanderer. But she can persuade her of the longing she feels for Jared (Irons) and her need to save her younger brother Jamie (Chandler Canterbury) and her desire for freedom. Melanie/Wanderer go to the rebel colony, where all the guys are, and another Meyer love triangle is set up. OK, quadrangle if you count Wanderer.
Meanwhile, one obsessed alien (Diane Kruger) is determined to find the missing Wanderer and wipe out the last human resistance.
The action — chases, hunts, fights — is scant, and too many characters have to spend too much time on exposition, explaining how this Brave New World works. The young would-be lovers talk and talk and talk. The leads generate little heat.
The slack pace allows us to ponder Meyer’s ever-present big themes — body image, guilt, free will, right and wrong, groupthink. But it all makes for a meandering, misshapen film where big ideas stolen from “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” fail to ignite because of smothering tedium. And the romance is drowned out by all the arguing in that confused girl’s head.