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ManCard still intact, ‘The Host’ is no ‘Twi-lite’

I’m going to admit that, as a man, I entered the theater expecting to hate almost everything about “The Host,” much like I hated almost everything about the entire “Twilight” series. And, when the late Roger Ebert panned it as “Twi-lite,” that more or less solidified my resolve that Stephenie Meyer’s latest book-to-film series was going to be horrible.

Two admissions: first — as was the case with the “Twilight” series — I never read the book; second, I’m man enough to admit when I’m wrong — and I was wrong about “The Host.”

Let’s just deal with the white elephant in the room at the onset. Yes, there are many elements of “The Host” that are similar to that of the “Twilight” series.

Wanderer, the main character, is a strong female lead very similar in personality to Bella in “Twilight.” There are two competing male protagonists, much like “Twilight.” The fate of the entire world is at stake. But to call “The Host” a “Twilight” knockoff is to dismiss it altogether — a huge disservice to both the film and the author.

“The Host” is far more a story about survival with a little bit of romance thrown in — and not awkwardly so — and that’s a huge difference in my book. Did we pan all of the Stephen King books-to-movies of the 1980s, even though they were formulaic? Has the Nicholas Sparks Formula stopped folks from making him a multi-millionaire?

The plot is complicated, there’s no doubt about that. So, here’s what you need to know:

• There is an alien race called Souls, which can only survive inside the body of another being, thereby erasing that being’s consciousness.

• Within the Souls, there is a quasi-militaristic group known as The Seekers who are bent on finding the last remnants of the human resistance.

• At the onset of the film, the main character, Wanderer, has already taken over the body of Melanie Stryder but soon discovers Melanie’s consciousness hasn’t been erased.

That gives you enough to work off of without spoiling the show.

“The Host” isn’t going to win any awards. The cinematography is a little disappointing in spots. There were a number of production “goofs” that are noticeable to the trained eye, but I don’t know if general audiences will catch them.

The dialogue is somewhat goofy — accidentally more often than intentionally — in places. But when was the last time a “Star Wars” movie made billions with its stunning repartee between the characters?

In the end, it’s the story that brings people to the theater. And “The Host” has an excellent story to tell viewers. That’s why I think you should give it a try this week.

Goodbye, Roger

As I mentioned before, legendary film critic Roger Ebert passed away yesterday at the age of 70. He was the first journalist to win the Pulitzer Prize for movie reviews, and he was the first film critic to earn a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

I developed my love of cinema from watching his movie reviews on Public Television at a young age. You wouldn’t be reading this review today were it not for the positive influence he made on me as a child.

We didn’t always agree about the quality of a film. But both of us loved the cinema.

Daily News Editor Bob Eschliman may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 423, or at beschliman@newtondailynews.com.

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