|The Host (2013)|
A handsome adaptation of the utopian sci-fi novel by Stephenie Meyer (and smarter, to boot, than the more famous "Twilight" series), "The Host" goes about proudly playing to its own drummer, with director Andrew Niccol bringing a slick, heartfelt, wondrous sheen to a project that could have easily turned more egregiously ridiculous and cornball in lesser hands. A story of sacrifice, redemption, and little, squiggly, glowing life forms, it's all still kinda-sorta B-grade hogwash, but it's eloquent, B-grade hogwash. Sometimes, in this genre, that's more than enough.
From the freckles on Saoirse Ronan's face, to the cavernous wheat field grown by the human survivors, to the antiseptic facilities run by the invading aliens, to the arid, sun-drenched desert landscapes of New Mexico, Universal Pictures' and Open Road's "The Host" looks close to astonishing in its nearly flawless high-definition transfer. The only flaw? A bit of fleeting summer in the trees in an early scene as Ronan walks down a suburban street. Otherwise, this is top-shelf stuff, bold and bright and radiant during the daytime sequences and as inky and well-resolved as need be in the darker indoors sections. The 5.1 DTS-HD Audio Master is just as impressive, the running conversations between the interior human Melanie and the alien Wanderer a particularly effective use of the sound field. Imagine Dragon's "Radioactive" additionally sounds stunning during the end titles.
Audio Commentary with author/producer Stephenie Meyer, screenwriter/director Andrew Niccol and producer Nick Wechsler; Deleted Scenes (3 minutes); Featurette - Bringing "The Host" to Life (8 minutes); Seeker PSA (1 minute)
"The Host" got a raw deal when it was released in theaters, failing to come close to matching up to the financial success of "Twilight." The irony in all of this is that "The Host" is a superior film, a thinking-person's sic-fi effort more than the teenybopper romance it advertised itself to be. The film doesn't always work, but it takes chances and is admirable for it. The Blu-ray presentation of "The Host" looks and sounds as great as one would hope a brand-new, healthily-budgeted motion picture from 2013 look and sound. With a low-key audio commentary and a few other features also included in the package, "The Host" earns a recommendation.