As one of Korea's most successful films ever, The Host is unpredictable and funny--just a great monster picture.
Irrepressible 10-year-old Hyun-seo (Ko A-sung) comes home furious at her rather irresponsible father Gang-du (Song Kang-ho) for missing another parent-teacher conference. Yelling at him at his food stand by the Han River, the two are oblivious to the fact a crowd of people have gathered to stare at a monstrous bat-like creature that has perched upside down underneath the bridge, who then dives into the water and disappears into a sea of bubbles. Suddenly, it bursts out of the water and begins eating and crushing people. Gang-du does his share to save people, but he loses track of his daughter and watches as the creature grips her in its tail and dives under the river. With his remaining family around him and the media clicking pictures, the grieving father gets a phone call interrupting the funeral for his daughter. It's Hyun-seo, saying she is alive, but she fears that she won't be for long.
Song Kang-ho as the hapless father is both a comedian and a tragic figure, and he balances both of those identities well. In the frenzy to save his daughter, the pudgy irresponsible dad becomes a hero who defies the government, mobs of people, his family and the creature itself. He does it far better than Tom Cruise did in War of the Worlds. Ko A-sung does a nice job, using all her bravery against a giant monster. She shows her own maturity and tenderness when she has to help a young boy who is also captured by the creature and stuffed in a pit with torn-up bodies.
Director Bong Joon-ho not only comments on the environment in this monster movie, but he pokes fun at the media frenzy of a big story as well as government bungling. The creature is a host to a virus that was caused when a scientist spills chemicals into the river. The creature isn't a typical Godzilla-like reptile but a unique dinosaur hybrid that walks and moves realistically through the city. The director keeps the story surprising, shocking and doesn't take the expected route American audiences usually see. For that reason, The Host is not for the faint-of-heart--or the people who always expect happy endings.
Hollywood.com rated this film 3 stars.