Director: Joon-ho Bong
Writers: Chul-hyun Baek, Joon-ho Bong, Won-jun Ha
Starring: Kang-ho Song, Hie-bong Byeon, Hae-il Park, Du-na Bae, Ah-sung Ko
The Host (2006) is how a monster movie should be made. It may not be as good as the original Gojira (1954) or the orginal King Kong (1933) but it was pretty damn good. The basic story is simple and has been seen before; a giant monster is created due to the carelessness of humans and then runs amok in the city eating people. In this instance the carelessness is pouring dangerous chemicals down a drain instead of disposing of them properly. The drain then leads to the Han River and this is where are monster is created.
The rest of the story begins to go much deeper than that though. If this story had just been about the monster destroying the city it would have been pretty average and I wouldn't have thought anything of it. The main story is actually that of a family trying to pull together in a crisis in order to rescue a member of the family that has been taken by the monster. You see, the monster doesn't eat all his victims right away, he takes some of them back to his lair and saves them for later.
When the youngest member of the family, 13 year old Hyun-seo is taken by the monster the rest of the family must put aside there differences in order to rescue her. They must also deal with the government that does not want to help them and does not believe that Hyun-seo could still be alive. It is obvious from the start that much of the family does not get along. Hyun-seo's father, Gang-Du, is seen as a slacker by his brother and sister, each of which have problems of their own as well. Gang-Du's father tries his best to keep the family together in this crisis so that they may rescue Hyun-seo.
The family dynamics of the film are probably one of the things that make it so great for me. I really enjoyed watching this family put aside all their differences and do what ever they could to rescue Hyun-seo. The family in many ways seems like real family to me, they aren't perfect and they don't always get along. Now you may say that this has been done before, and I would agree. I have seen plenty of films where the family in the movie would have to put aside all their problems with each other in order to help one member of the family, but some how this film manages to make it interesting. It doesn't seems at all clich' or overdone.
Another interesting part of the story is that of Hyun-seo. For parts of the movie the audience in down in the monster's lair with her and we get to see her trying to survive and find a way out. When a boy younger than her ends up in the lair with her, she takes it upon herself to protect him and get him out safely. It actually turns out that she may very well be the smartest member of the entire family and she also seems to be more calm and collected in a crisis situation. Because of all these things, she was quite an enjoyable character to watch.
This film also manages to have a sense of humour about itself that actually works. Quite often films like this will try to have a sense of humor and it will either not be funny or completely ruin the tone of the film. Not only is the humor in this film quite funny it is also spaced out just right so that it enhances the film instead of taking away from it.
One of the other things I really liked about the movie was that it doesn't make the audience wait 30 or 45 minutes into the movie before it shows the monster. This is a technique that many monster movies use, build up the story first then unleash the monster. The monster in this film is shown very early on in the movie and the story and character are developed in the aftermath of the monster attack. I thought this was a great approach to the film.
My only really complaint about the movie was the CGI used for the monster itself. It really wasn't done all that well, for quite a bit of the film I could tell I was looking at a CGI monster. The CGI was definitely passable and it worked for this film, but it could have been a lot better. However, because of how wonderful the story and characters are in the film I was able to over look the obvious CGI of the monster and really get into the film.
Overall I really liked the film. I was really able to enjoy the story and the characters were all interesting. Quite a bit of the film was intense and suspenseful. Even though the CGI wasn't all the impressive the monster was still pretty cool and definitely had a unique look. I would definitely recommend this to anyone that loves a good movie with a giant monster running amok in a city and gobbling up people.