My experience when originally hearing about this movie was like an M. Night Shyamalan plot. It’s a modern day version of the classic Body Snatchers story but in this one the invaders have already won. It’s sounded like a such a great set-up for a sci-fi/action/thriller with your standard rag-tag band of holdouts attempting to fight back against the usurpers of humanity while also exploring the concept of whether or not humans even deserve our dominance. Then the “From the writer of Twilight” credit shows up and I’m like “Nooooooo! You were dead the whole time and I just didn’t realize it!” How dare you trick me into wanting to see something of yours, Stephanie Meyer? How dare you?
The movie follows Melanie, the standard Meyer main character of a girl that is a super special snowflake that isn’t like all the other people. When she is caught and has the alien symbiote put inside her, she can actually fight back against the control because…reasons. I don’t know, it vaguely implies that because she likes a boy and has a brother to look after that she can resist against the domination of the alien mind because none of the other 7 billion people on the planet had loved ones apparently. Anyway, the movie ends up turning into an odd-couple, buddy cop film with the symbiote and Melanie escaping from the clutches of the other pod people while they constantly argue in her head. If you want to see a character talking to their own disembodied voice for a couple hours, then boy do I have a movie for you.
Sadly, the movie never really delivers on any of the awesome premise that could have been and instead turns into a romance movie with a love…rhombus? Melanie likes a boy but the symbiote, now going by the name Wanda, also falls in love with a different boy so they have to share the same body but want to do different dudes. Also, let me just say that because the symbiote is pretty much the other main character, it is also a super special unique snowflake. When it arrives all the other people are just gushing about “Oh you must have seen so much” and when they ask for its name, it says that they can just call it Wanderer (that’s where Wanda comes from) which is weird since they apparently know all about how this symbiote has been to several of the worlds they’ve conquered yet don’t know its name but whatever.
The saddest part is that there is pretty much no real tension once the duo leave the city and find the requisite rag-tag group of survivors. They don’t trust her because you can tell when someone has been taken over because their eyes change but then they eventually do trust her because she is nice and attractive. The imprisonment comes with no threat because the leader is Melanie’s uncle and he wants her to be safe. The group has no real tension because basically all but like 2 people immediately think that Wanda is cool when she kind of helps them stay hidden at one point. The relationship thing, which is the main plot for some reason, doesn’t have much in the way of actual conflict because it gets resolved in the most boring, plot convenient way possible.
Therein lies my biggest issue with the movie. There is so much that it could have done but it just doesn’t want to deal with anything being actually difficult. Take for instance the boy that falls in love with Wanda. The symbiote says that he wouldn’t like her if it wasn’t for the body she was in but he assures it that he loves it no matter what. This would have been interesting if at the end it was put into, say, a guy’s body or even an unattractive woman but no, it goes from being in Melanie to being in a different generically good-looking white girl.
The movie does a good job with the aesthetics with the aliens having a very sleek, chrome sci-fi look to their stuff combined with a They Live feel to things with stores just called STORE and items being black and white labels saying things like CORN or WATER on them. The humans are then contrasted looking very dirty and Western with caves and wooden structures. The visual storytelling done in the movie is far and away better than the actual storytelling done. The acting is not atrocious but since it’s a Meyer joint, every character is just there to serve as a backdrop to showcase the Mary Sue main character. In all I’d give this movie a 2 out of 5. It’s not awful in any way, it’s just so incredibly bland and safe and boring.