Aficionados of movie monsters will find things in "The Host" that they have been waiting to see all their lives: a monster lazily unfurling itself from the girders beneath a bridge, for instance, or a view from a moving elevated train that frames the monster as it gallops lustily across a park filled with scattering locals. If the realization of a creature were all this movie had going for it, director Bong Joon-ho would have enough to be proud of, but "The Host" offers more food for thought, and plenty of food for the monster. Bong creates both a deeply eccentric comedy about family and a cheeky gloss on political currents. The monster is created when a U.S. military doctor (Scott Wilson in an unnerving cameo) orders a South Korean soldier to discard chemicals into the Han River in Seoul. Sure enough, a toxic monster is born, as we see in an opening reel that is surely the most exhilarating monster intro in years. Our central figure--of the human variety, that is--is played by Song Kang-ho (who also starred in Bong's "Memories of Murder"), as a hilariously lazy slob who must fight to discover what happened to his daughter after she was snatched up by the creature. Along the way, the film makes some pointed cracks at the ease with which governments can exploit public fear for their own purposes, and there's some satire aimed at U.S. intervention in global affairs. The film has some serious lulls, and would have been a tighter, crazier head-rush if it were 90 minutes long instead of two hours. But in general this is a much smarter Godzilla movie than Godzilla movies ever were. "--Robert Horton"