"The Weekend Rent offers quick-hit suggestions of what to watch at home to get psyched for new releases in theaters, on Friday. Click on the links for each film to find out how and where you can watch it right now.
This weekend we find out if Twilight author Stephenie Meyer's appeal to the young-adult crowd extends beyond sparkly vampires and buff werewolves when the movie adaptation of her sci-fi book The Host hits the big screen. The story involves parasitic aliens called "Souls" that invade the Earth and possess the minds of humans, including Saoirse Ronan, who plays the dual role of Melanie Stryder and a Soul named Wanderer. Saoirse pronounces her first name "sir-sha," which is Irish for "freedom."
This isn't the first time 18-year-old Irish-American actress has been tasked with heading up a movie with an outlandish concept. In 2007's Atonement, Ronan played the part of Briony Tallis—an aspiring 13-year-old novelist who wrecks a few lives when she accuses her sister's lover of a crime he did not commit. Ronan was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, making her one of the youngest people to ever be nominated.
Ronan's next major role came in Peter Jackson's controversial The Lovely Bones, and adaptation of the book of the same name by Alice Sebold. In the movie, Ronan plays a 14-year-old girl who is murdered and watches from "in-between" as her parents (Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz), family and friends struggle to come to terms with her death. Ronan was reportedly initially hesitant about accepting the role due to the subject matter, but Jackson eventually won her over. The movie has a flowery, ethereal feeling for such a dark subject like child murder, but Ronan won critics over with her performance and was nominated for numerous awards. Her sympathetic portrayal of Susie Salmon struck such a chord that many overlooked the movie's most ludicrous plot device: the dangling icicle of revenge!
Ronan earned her fourth Irish Film & Television Award for her performance as Polish orphan Irena in Peter Weir's The Way Back. Irena joins a group of prisoners who escape from a gulag and Siberia in 1940 and attempt to make the 4,000-mile trek to India… and freedom. The quest seems unfathomable and heroic as they cross brutal deserts and impossible terrain, but you'll have to rent it yourself to find out if Irena completes her epic journey.
The grand finale to your Saoirse soiree has to be the 2011 action-thriller Hanna in which Ronan plays the title character—a 15-year-old girl who lives with her father, Erik Heller (Eric Bana), in the remote wilderness of Northern Finland. Since the age of two, Hanna has been trained by Erik—an ex-CIA operative from Germany—to be a skilled assassin and, boy, is she ever. Hanna reads a blood-stained Grimm's Fairy Tales book, has encyclopedic knowledge and speaks several languages. This is one intimidating teen who is being hunted by CIA operative Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett), who wants her and Erik dead. The heart-pounding confrontation between Blanchett and Ronan in an abandoned amusement park is not something you'd expect to see a young actress like Ronan in, which is why her presence in The Host gives a little hope that the movie will be a cut above standard YA fare.
All of the movies and TV shows listed above are available on DVD and/or Blu-ray as well as VOD services.