Watched The Host last night – it's not out in theatres yet, but Suspect Video has a fairly undodgy-looking copy on DVD. I rarely go into new movies with the right level of expectation. I either expect too much (as with Borat, which I was pretty thoroughly disappointed with, despite the seemingly contradictory fact that it made me laugh a lot), or too little (as with The Departed, which ended up being a lot of fun, even with Nicholson doing his worst Nicholson impression all the way through. He's the new Jack Palance!).
With The Host, I was fully prepared, thanks to Gary Butler, who told me it is "the best monster movie since Jurassic Park." With that, I knew I was not going to be getting the usual Asian extreme stuff, with creepy children or long-haired, contortionist ghosts or haunted handicams. I was expecting something more like smart, early Spielberg*, and that's what I got. Even the fact that the monster gets shown in full-light throughout – usually a no-no, see: Jaws, the death of Quint – is not a problem, nor is the fact that the movie has a few children-in-peril scenarios, which can be a deal-breaker for me if at all gratuitous – that is, if I can almost hear the childless director or screenwriter giggling from behind the camera.
This one won't haunt your imagination for months or anything like that, but it's worth it. Sometimes, all you can feel is gratitude when a movie does everything it needs to and just a little more. (That sounds like faint praise – it does a lot more.)
* not that Jurassic Park has much in common with smart, early Spielberg, aside from a couple of early scenes. Of the three Jurassic movies, I actually prefer the "worst" one, the third. (Which wasn't even directed by the man.) It had the virtue of being one long chase scene, with only brief pauses to moralize.