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A Host of boring

The Host
DIRECTED BY: Andrew Nicol
STARRING: Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, Jake Abel
CERT: 12A

THE Host is based on a gigantic and very silly book by Stephanie Meyer. It’s about a teenage girl who has the hots for two cute boys. Sound vaguely familiar? Would it ring any bells if you knew this little love triangle was no simple human affair but that, in fact, it had an otherworldly flavour to spice it up? Would you say we’ve been down this road before and back a few times?

Ah, you know we have and if you were hoping that you might never be reminded of that again for as long as you live, well, I apologise. I feel that pain, too.

 

With the vampires and werewolves gone into retirement, Meyer has gone to space in search of an elaborate tale to build around her latest teen romance. She’s brought back a race of aliens called the Souls, who fancy planet earth and who conquer it by inhabiting the bodies of the entire human population and erasing their memories.

Or almost the entire population. In the finest tradition, there’s a remnant who aren’t going to stand for this carry-on, even when these alien boys go and solve all of the world’s problems. It’s the principle of the thing.

Melanie (Ronan) is one of this small band, though it looks like her running days are up. She’s been captured and implanted with an alien called the Wanderer, or Wanda as she is christened later. Wanda gets to work taking over but Melanie is a tough nut and she’s not giving up her body just like that. A war of personalities ensues.

This inner battle really heats up when Melanie escapes and finds the resistance force, living in a volcano in the desert. She’s reunited with her boyfriend Jared (Max Irons) but Wanda isn’t into him at all. She fancies Ian (Jake Abel), much to Melanie’s horror. Oh, the dilemma!

Had The Host been written by someone who can actually write – Meyer co-wrote the screenplay too – then it could have been an interesting film. There’s plenty of fine ingredients here but director Andrew Nicol (he wrote The Truman Show and made Gattaca) is shackled by the silly stuff and by the requirement to aim his movie at the young female audience.

So, what might have been a dark, intelligent grown-up tale, is a shallow, dull and painfully boring experience. If you thought you suffered when Stewart and Pattinson were doing their interminable mumble routine, well, you haven’t seen Saoirse Ronan talking to herself for two hours.

The young Irish actress is better than what she’s saddled with here.

GI Joe: Retaliation
DIRECTED BY: John M Chu
STARRING: Channing Tatum, Dwayne Johnson, Bruce Willis
CERT: 12A
THE biggest thing GI Joe: Retaliation has going for it is that no matter how bad it gets, it can never be worse than its predecessor, The Rise of Cobra. Though, in fairness, that’s not saying much.

The Joes are in Pakistan, where main man Duke (Tatum) leads them on a mission to recover some lost nuclear warheads. Mission accomplished, the team is attacked in the middle of the night and only a few of the gang emerge alive. The Joes have been betrayed and Duke and his old mucker Roadblock (Johnson) regroup the bunch and go looking for the culprits. Since the President of the United States is being played by Jonathan Pryce, it’s probably fair to say this mess goes all the way to the top.

Retaliation is big and loud and bazillions of weapons are used to obliterate gazillions of people with hardly a drop of blood in sight. It’s an old fashioned action movie with all the new toys and it does exactly what it says on the tin.

Where it scores higher than Cobra, is that the mayhem actually makes a kind of sense, even if many of its moves are borrowed from better movies. Also in its favour, is that the stars -Tatum and Johnson – come across as almost human.
Strange days.

Finding Nemo 3D
DIRECTED BY: Andrew Stanton
VOICES: Albert Brooks, Alexander Gould, Ellen DeGeneres, Willem Dafoe
CERT: G

I WOULD not be one to applaud this tactic whereby the studios have been dressing up their greatest hits with a bit of 3D and rolling them out for box office gold, once more with feeling. But some movies are just so good, they should get a new cinema run every couple of years as a rule. Finding Nemo is one.

It’s a charming, funny and beautifully animated tale about a clown fish named Marlin (Brooks) who scours the ocean in search of his captured son Nemo (Gould), an independent little fella with a gammy fin and a point to prove. The supporting cast includes Willem Dafoe, Allison Janney and Geoffrey Rush, but Ellen DeGeneres steals the show as the forgetful Dory.

If you’ve never seen it on the big screen ­ and there must be a generation of kids who haven’t, then here’s your chance. The 3D is even pretty good.

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