Tuesday, January 22, 2008
My husband and I recently watched The Host (also entitled Gwoemul) and while I wouldn't go so far as to agree with Harry Knowles' comment: "On a par with JAWS", it's one of the best monster movies I've seen in a while. Granted, I don't go to the movies that often so I've yet to see the current slew of monster movies I've heard are very good indeed.
Director Joon-ho Bong did some wonderfully creative things with perspective (seeing only the top of the concrete base of the road sign as it bobs above some trucks on its way to its target, the panic of the crowds from their various points of view to name a couple of examples) and he brought out the most wonderful performances from the child actors.
To describe it in its most basic plot, it's about a dysfunctional family desperately trying to hold everything together when a monster rears up out of the Han river and tears them apart by stealing away the granddaughter of the family, most capably portrayed by Ah-sung Ko.
Oddly, I'm reminded of Little Miss Sunshine in the fact that a family of misfits must overcome their limitations for the sake of a young girl in the family who may have a small chance of not being the disappointment the rest of the family sees themselves as being.
Also, be aware that the little English that is spoken in this movie will be delivered very slowly, as is custom in non-English speaking movies, so it tends to make the English speaking actors look crappy. They're not. You'll notice the same in a movie like Lagaan, too.
Overall, a thrilling pic that doesn't fall victim of the many trappings of the more traditional monster movie (no gratuitous T & A, no "what's that noise?" moment) and falls in nicely with the more recent generation of monster flicks that dabble with a little politics and a little humanity. Oh, and now I'm totally craving Korean food. Nothing with fish, though...