Sep 23 2009 6:20pm

Andrew Niccol Not a Fool, Takes Surefire Blockbuster The Host

 Via Variety, director/screenwriter Andrew Niccol will be helming and writing a screen adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s science-fiction novel The Host. Meyer had “spurned several overtures” from independent producers Nick Wechsler and Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz (the upcoming Cormac McCarthy adaptation The Road), but she “eventually said yes,” so anyone who was worried that Meyer won’t be able to buy a small European country this year can rest easy that she got her money’s worth on this.

The Host (tagline on Meyer’s website: “Science fiction for people who don’t like science fiction”) spent more than a year on bestseller lists after its release. The story takes place in the near future, when alien parasites called Souls have infected most of the human population in the world's biggest marionette takeover. Young rogue Melanie is infected by a soul called Wanderer. When the two warring personalities finds Melanie’s boyfriend Jared’s alien-resistance cel, and Wanderer falls in love with both Jared and another boy in the camp, the inevitable love polygons begin.

Even though my knee-jerk reaction was to sit Niccol down like an After-School Special and tell him that he could do better, all things considered, The Host might not actually be a bad project for Niccol right now.  (His last movie was 2005’s Lord of War, and a Nic Cage movie is not really how you want to start a hiatus, you know?) Apparently he was hand-picked by Meyer, which could be considered a dubious honor, but he might stand a chance of turning out a decent movie, and here's why.

The Host is, as usual with Meyer’s work, more a series of archetypes than a nuanced story, so Niccol might be able to bring some of his own artistry to the film. He excels at providing low-effects science fiction that both looks good and is genuinely character-centric (the underrated cult classic GATTACA), which is a rare skill that will be well-applied here. And Niccol’s other films have sometimes struggled to find an audience (S1m0ne, I’m looking at you), so he could use a high-profile project to put him back in the pool of go-to science fiction directors. Christopher Nolan can’t do this alone, people!

And frankly, let’s face it, you’d be a fool to turn down a Stephenie Meyer gig. You gotta pay the rent, and better The Host than Eclipse, right?

Genevieve Valentine hopes Andrew Niccol won’t regret this. In the meantime, she's going to watch GATTACA again.

p l
1. p-l
You know what they say about great movies coming from bad books...
2. Lsana
@1. p-l,

I haven't read The Host, or anything else by Meyer, so I can't comment on this one specifically, but in my experience, bad books do tend to make better movies than good books.

In the case of a bad book, there is often a good story that's trying to get out. A screenwriter and a director can sit there and say, "Okay, if we cut out that boring subplot, flesh out this character a bit here, and impose an overall theme on the narrative, this could be pretty decent." And sometimes it's better than decent. Sometimes, it's excellent.

With a good book, on the other hand, the good story isn't trying to get out--it's already there. An adapter is reduced to saying "Let's show everyone what their favorite scenes look like on screen and hope that we manage to make them a fraction as cool as they were in everyone's imaginations." Even at their best, these movies tend to be the sort you watch once, then forget.

There are exceptions of course (LoTR being the top one in sci-fi/fantasy), but if I were a director, I would take a mediocre book over a good one.

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