Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Host

Otherwise known as Gwoemul, this Korean movie is sort of in the same genre of your classic Japanese monster movies. I used to line up with my dad and brother to see the latest Godzilla offerings, so I guess I have an ingrained inclination toward these.

The Host beats those movies on two counts: First, the production values. This is not so much a sign of the filmmaker's skill as a sign of available technology. I'm sure those old Godzilla movies were OK, given the technology available. The Host uses computer graphics well. The monster looks great, and it's integrated into the real-life scenes beautifully.

Second, I don't remember those crazy old movies focusing on a family or individual; I remember them more as war movies, army vs. monster. In The Host, a little girl is lost to the monster, along with a crowd of others, in a terrifying attack. (Well, terrifying to those being attacked; rather amusing to the movie watcher. That was a quirk of a movie; it wanted to be scary and funny at the same time.) She isn't dead, gets a hold of a cell phone (off a dead guy) and calls her dad. He rallies the family to get her back.

Much of the story is pretty standard hunting the monster, running away from the monster stuff. There were some very strange things in it, though. After the big attack, a memorial is set up with all the victims' pictures. The little girl's dad, grandfather, aunt, and uncle are there. They start wailing and rolling all over the floor. It's quite comical, so overdone, but made me wonder--is this a Korean cultural expression? Am I being insensitive thinking they're goofy?

Later, the family takes a break from their search for the little girl, and has a meal in an abandoned snack bar. They heat water, pour it in little cups of instant noodles, and wait for them to cook. Then they all eat together. I just thought that was a funny thing to put in, their waiting the prescribed time together. . . . Then while they were eating, the little girl appears at the table. They offer her some food; no one says a word. I thought maybe she had found them and would show them how to find the monster. But no, it was some sort of fantasy or waking dream. That was the only scene of its kind in the film so it didn't seem to fit.

This was a cool movie in a way, but mostly forgettable and a waste of some good technology. There were some good scenes, but not enough to make it a very good movie. Bottom line, a weak 2 stars.

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