Friday, August 10, 2007

The Host: A Four-Sentence Movie Review

What's so wonderful about The Host is that it doesn't follow any of the monster movie conventions that we've become accustomed to over decades of watching these sorts of films. Instead of teasing us with little glimpses of whatever mutant fish-thing is terrorizing Seoul, keeping the beast in the shadows while building up to a full reveal in the movie's climax, the filmmakers throw the monster right in your face in full daylight near the beginning of the story. You see how it moves across land with two big arms, you see its freakish jaw with four parts that fly open to reveal all kinds of sharp teeth, you see the fins and flappers that protrude from various parts of its body with no seeming rhyme, reason, or symmetry, and you see that tail that not only can snare its prey, but also propel it acrobatically beneath man-made structures like nothing we've ever seen before.

Why do Asian filmmakers seem to be able to make better monster movies than their American counterparts (excepting - hopefully - J.J. Abrams' "Cloverfield/Monstrous/01-18-08/Overnight"), seamlessly mixing comedy and tragedy with action, drama, and character development, while also including a little bit of a message about environmentalism?