A Few Words About A few words about...™ The Host -- in BD

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Jul 26, 2007.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    It isn't often that after viewing a film, I'm unsure what it's about.

    This is the case with The Host, a Korean film about a creature lurking in and around the Han River, ostensibly the creation of purposefully dumped toxins.

    That's the easy part. I'm reminded of the many sci-fi thrillers produced during the early to mid-1950s, which mix nuclear energy and creatures to produce really angry, super-huge creatures.

    If I have a personal favorite, it's probably Them! (1954), available on Warner DVD. I saw this film as a child in Miami Beach, and I still recall walking back to the hotel with cousins, when from behind a large building came the precise sound make by the creatures in the film. We arrived back at the hotel quickly.

    But I'm not certain that this is what the film is about.

    The filmmaker, Bong Joon-ho has placed a number of American characters in the film, inclusive of a gentleman in the opening who demands that his Korean underling dump what appear to be at least dozens of bottles of chemicals down a laboratory drain, even when warned that the drain goes into the Han.

    Americans also appear to be giving technical and medical support to the Koreans, and everything that they do is wrong, ending in death, disease and destruction.

    Is the film anti-American?

    I'm not sure, but it may well be.

    Then there is the concept of family. In The Host, the daughter is taken by the creature, and the family endures the disbelief of Korean authorities as well as medical experimentation brought on by the Americans, before they can finally come together again with the little girl.

    With the exception of confusion as to what I viewed, the physical image and audio were both of superb quality, with audio pumping, perfectly placed, through my surround system.

    As far as the audio is concerned, the disc defaults to the English dubbed version, which did little to support the film, which seems to play much better with it's original language and English subtitles.

    Possibly because of my confusion, the film seemed exceedingly long at 115 minutes.

    I had yet another problem while viewing the film, simply because it was Korean. While Koreans are a wonderful people, their government supports piracy, and does little to help in not only stopping, but even slowing the rampant piracy of DVD and other goods from America and other countries.

    This is a huge problem for me, because government agencies in Korea, such as those that rate films and permit them to be distributed seem to be set up to protect the pirates, while being of no help whatsoever to owners of copyright.

    Having attempted to deal with the Korean government on copyright violation issues, and having gotten absolutely nowhere, with not even the courtesy of a response, I have a problem with Korean films being used to send American dollars back to the mother ship of pirates in Korea.

    Magnolia has done a beautiful job bringing this film to Blu-Ray, and I look forward to more of their releases in the future. The political issues have nothing to do with Magnolia, which I wish well with their beautiful release, but at least at present, Korean films come with heavy political baggage.


    RAH
     
  2. Walter Przybylowski

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    yea this one left me stumped as well. as a life long horror fan I really wanted to enjoy the big monster stuff, yet its typically dark korean outlook coupled with its rampant anti-americanism (imo) left me feeling indifferent... and yet when i think of that big monster loping through the crowds by the river, i know ill have to check this out again on hd or br at some point, maybe a second veiwing will yield a better experiance. good to know magnolia produces top notch discs.
    -wjp
     
  3. RickER

    RickER Producer

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    Thanks for helping me decide to skip this. [​IMG]
    But as always your threads are a wonderful read Mr. Harris.
     
  4. Jon Moss

    Jon Moss Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm not sure you should skip this just based on Robert's review. If you have any interest at all in "monster" movies this is one of the better attempts at the genre in recent years. It's certainly head & shoulders above similar genre efforts such as Lake Placid, The Relic or Eight Legged Freaks.

    The general consensus is this will rapidly (if not already) become a cult flick, plus it's currently at 92% with 118 fresh (against 10 rotten reviews) on Rotten Tomatoes. This is no easy feat for what is essentially a foreign language monster movie! [​IMG]

    Whatever "political" baggage you may have, at least give it a rent for the effects. Some of which are truly jaw dropping..
     
  5. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I would not suggest a pass. The film is worth a visit. Rent first.

    RAH
     
  6. Nick Graham

    Nick Graham Screenwriter

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    I caught this in the theater, and I still am not sure what to think about it. It's well worth a rental, but the tone shifts wildly during the movie, going from comedy to monster movie to thriller to genuine horror to political satire to family drama and back again.
     
  7. ppltd

    ppltd Producer

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    I have viewed this film multiple times (SD) and will again view it over the weekend (HD DVD). This is one of the best 'giant monster' films made in a very long time and is best watched in the original language, not a dubbed version. Anyone who enjoys the 50's and 60's 'giant monster' films can not help but like this film.

    The story has a fine blend of scares, comedy and pathos with some very well developed and sympathetic characters, and some interesting twists. On top of that, the CGI work and animatronics are very impressive.

    As far as anti-american subtopics, IMHO, this is very very much overblown. There is certainly an anti-government theme (both Korean and US), but isn't that the case will all of these movies? It is either evil scientists or evil military.

    This was a must buy for me when it was announced in HD. IMHO, it is that good.

    Robert, I agree with you on the movie 'Them!'. One of the greatest 'giant monster' films that holds up as well today as it did in the 50's, when I originally saw it. And the sound the Ants made is unforgettable.
     
  8. RickER

    RickER Producer

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    A rental it is. I liked Lake Placid, and Relic, but hated, and i mean hated 8 Legged Freaks. Always interesting to me the different takes people have with movies. But the feedback is appreciated.
     
  9. Bleddyn Williams

    Bleddyn Williams Supporting Actor

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    Thomas, when you do, can you keep an eye open for any playback problems? And try the bonus trailers to see if you have issues. Cheers!
     
  10. ppltd

    ppltd Producer

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    Will do. I will post in this thread after I view it.
     
  11. Roger Mathus

    Roger Mathus Supporting Actor

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    Quote:

    I had yet another problem while viewing the film, simply because it was Korean. While Koreans are a wonderful people, their government supports piracy, and does little to help in not only stopping, but even slowing the rampant piracy of DVD and other goods from America and other countries.

    This is a huge problem for me, because government agencies in Korea, such as those that rate films and permit them to be distributed seem to be set up to protect the pirates, while being of no help whatsoever to owners of copyright.

    Having attempted to deal with the Korean government on copyright violation issues, and having gotten absolutely nowhere, with not even the courtesy of a response, I have a problem with Korean films being used to send American dollars back to the mother ship of pirates in Korea.

    End Quote

    From 1980 I lived in Korea for 11 years as country manager for Texas Instruments. For 5 years I also served as the Co-Chairman of the Intellectual Property Rights Committee od the American Chamber. The committee was very active and effective. The Korean government officials were very cooperative and took action when problem incidents were brought to their attention. The MPAA also had a member on the committee. Video was quickly removed form shelves and, at first, went underground but pirated material all but went away during the 1990s as licensed product became available at affordable prices. Durin the 1990s I lived in Japan but visited Korea several times each year. The Korean gverenment was always very cooperative with our committee and was said to be responsive to company inquiries.

    After moving to Japan in late 1990, I actually found counterfeit product (clothing, watches, etc.) move visible there than in Korea.

    On my most recent visit to Korea two years ago I saw a good selection of licensed DVD product and did not encounter counterfeits.

    If you have specific problems, I would recommend that you discuss with the American Chamber in Seoul as they should have a good handle on what is going on and proper contacts.

    In both Korea and Japan, the goverenments have, at times, taken measures to protect their domestic motion picture industries but not to protect the pirates.
     
  12. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    All of the above have been dealt with properly. The Korean government, has however, been totally unresponsive as has been their ratings board, which allows citizens to register foreign works as their own, and then license them to others.

    This is not a good situation, and does not speak well of Korean government agencies.
     
  13. Yumbo

    Yumbo Cinematographer

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    Very interesting comments Robert. I am lobbying our Government to change, with a tax proposal to include pirates etc. Haven't seen the movie yet. Will convey the message to our own Film Commission, and Government departments.
     
  14. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    I reluctantly went along with a friend who was very excited to see it. I ended up enjoying it and he walked out mostly disappointed.
    Very much in the vein of the giant mutant monster movies of the 50s, as well as Jaws- with a lot of humour- mostly poking fun at the protagonist.
    I'm glad I saw it once, and wouldn't be disinclined to see it again at some point- but I'm not anxious to at the moment.
    The print we saw in the theater looked excellant. First time in a long time that I felt that what I was seeing was ultimately superior to what I have at home (mostly due to the rich deep black levels, that I think may be beyond the capabilities of my Pearl).
    The inital appearence of the monster early in the film is a fantastic, adrenaline pumping sequence that makes the film at least worth a rental. I also appreciated the somewhat non traditional (at least in a Hollywood sense) ending-
    you just don't kill the kids in an American , Hollywood movie...especially the spunky heroine of the story
    which gave the material a little more consequence when viewed in retrospect.

    As far as the anti-American sentiment in the film-
    Americans are portrayed as either
    Careless, irresponsible, and as a consequence -destructive
    or else they are shown as well meaning, and even heroic, but ultimately ineffectual.
    I walked away thinking "yeah...I don't doubt that is the way a lot of the rest of the planet must view my country"
     
  15. Elphaba

    Elphaba Stunt Coordinator

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    I saw this in the theater and thought the symbolism was fairly tranparent. The monster represents a combination of American imperialism, military, economic, and cultural, and the perceived inability or unwillingness of the South Korean government to deal with the negative effects of this. The family has to come together to protect themselves from these potential negative influences.

    It doesn't bother me because it's not really an attack on Americans so much as it's a metaphor used to guide the narrative. The monsters in most movies operate as a metaphor for something, the good ones at least, and Japanese and Korean horror movies are really much better at finding ways to build these metaphors into their movies.
     
  16. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    I just received The Host in the mail from inetvidio and until I received it I hadn't realized they were a Canadian company. Is the Canadian version the same as the US and is the region coding compatible with the US? I haven't broken the seal yet.

    Per comments about how good a monster movie it is, The Host is top notch in my opinion. Much Better than The Relic, Lake Placid, or 8-legged Freaks. The last one sucks, IMHO, but the first two are guilty pleasures of mine.

    BTW, it is nice to see that RH has fond memories of Them. It was a favorite of mine as a child and I must still be a kid, since I still love it. Has it ever been revealed how the ants "stridulation" was produced?
     
  17. Loregnum

    Loregnum Stunt Coordinator

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    yes, it is the same and yes, the regional coding is the same. I find it funny how so many Americans wonder if CDN regional coding is the same. You guys do know Canada is a hop skip and a jump away from the U.S, right?[​IMG] I realize Mexico is a different region but come on, there is just a *slight* difference between Mexico and Canada.

    I remember when my buddy from Alabama came to visit me (I live about an hour away from Buffalo) and people there asked him the dumbest of questions like Canada is some 3rd world place halfway across the world that is covered in ice and everyone lives in igloos and club seals for dinner. He just shook his head at them.
     
  18. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    Yes, I realize that, but never underestimate the ability of big business to screw things up. If they had so chosen, they could have given different region coding to Canada.[​IMG]
     

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