I Am Number Four, 2011.
Directed by D.J. Caruso.
Starring Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Teresa Palmer, Dianna Agron, Kevin Durand, Callan McAuliffe and Jake Abel.
An extraordinary young man masks his true identity, passing himself off as a typical student to elude a deadly enemy intent on his destruction. Three like him have already been killed… he is Number Four.
Hollywood’s infatuation with beings from another world continues to populate theaters with films about aliens and invasions and alien invasions. Before we get a chance to feast our eyes on the much anticipated Battle: Los Angeles, we get to past the time with the film adaptation of the teen fiction novel, I Am Number Four. Not so much as a straight out invasion story right off the bat but a “good-guy alien running for his life” story. A slight change from always having the protagonist of the story be the human race which is usually fighting a losing battle.
Number Four/John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) looks like a normal teenager who has a pretty easy time getting blondes in bikinis to invite him for night-time rendezvous’ in the ocean. His secret is soon out when one of his kind, Number Three, is found and murdered by a group called the Mogadorians. That secret being that he is from another planet. Yes, an alien with special powers that he hasn’t quite come to master full control over just yet. Sound familiar? No? Ok, I’ll keep going. John is one of nine toddlers who were sent to Earth along with their protectors for their safety. Three are now dead, leaving six remaining. His guardian, Henri (Timothy Olyphant), also from the planet of Lorien is his sole adult influence and protector makes the decision it’s time to pack up and leave, again, from their home of Florida after a small mishap with that same blonde in the bikini exposes his true identity. Still not familiar? Ok, continuing on.
They wind up in Ohio. Paradise, Ohio to be exact. They attempt, well, Henri attempts to maintain a low profile but of course John can’t stand being cooped up in the house all the time. Under warnings from his guardian, he sets off to school in an attempt to lead a normal life. Not too long into his new High School career, he meets three new people in his life. Sam (Callan McAuliffe) is your somewhat above typical school geek, Sarah (Dianna Agron) who immediately presents the audience with the fact that she is going to be the love interest in this story and her bully ex-boyfriend, Mark (Jake Abel). He is the school quarterback who desperately wants his girl back which doesn’t bode so well for “John” after she begins to take a liking to him.
The rest of the movie has John, Henri and Sam being chased by the Mogadorians, an alien race who dress like they are all part of the Neo fan club and sport some pretty heavy artillery & “pets” as they search for the remaining six numbers. There is also Number 6 (Teresa Palmer), another alien who is looking to join forces with John in an attempt to stop the Mogadorians and ensure the survival of what’s left of their race.
By now you have got to know what’s familiar about this plot line that was originally written by authors Jobie Hughes and James Frey. It’s pretty much like every other superhero origin tale out there. Superman comes to mind first. To be a little more specific, Smallville also pops in there. Not saying their idea wasn’t completely original, the powers that these beings have are different. Telekinesis, invisibility but the usuals such as speed, strength, and superb fighting abilities are all included. I Am Number Four is actually the first of six proposed books that will make up the series. Seems like J. K. Rowling’s success is giving everyone ideas. But to their credit, the book has spent some considerable time atop the children’s chapter of The New York Times Best Seller list. So you know what that means, more movies to come!
Producers Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay nabbed the movie rights to the book rather early and let D.J. Caruso, who brought us the thriller Disturbia, direct it. I’m rather surprised that a film was released already even before the second novel was. But then again, adapting from books and comics seems to be a rather popular means of production today in the world of film.
Nothing to get excited about here while discussing the acting. The special effects are where this film shines. It was actually this aspect about the film that made me change my mind about going to see it in the first place. We all know it’s about aliens, aliens who have superpowers and it’s based on a fiction novel. So making the unbelievable stunts and “they probably used a wire” sequences look believable was not an issue. These characters can do things that humans can’t. So watching John stop his darling Sarah from falling off of a roof in mid-air and then catching her before she hit the ground wasn’t going over the top. But it was done in very good quality.
My bones to pick with the film was, although it is a teen-based story, the emphasis on the whole trying to fit in and falling in love thing was dragged way too far out. We’ve already been down that road with every other science-fiction/superhero piece of paper with words on it. Get to the part where they start doing the hard-to-believe stuff that I was speaking about. But alas, this film took a good while to get to that piece of the story. Almost the entire two hours to be exact.
Having said all of that, the CGI was well created, the action was decent and I suspect the school board has a lot of funding because the High School in this movie gets royally trashed. I personally wanted more, especially after the $15 price tag for IMAX but maybe the next five sequels will be better. I give I Am Number Four “3 reasons to reconsider the truth being out there out of 5”.
“It’s hard to calm down when your hands light up like road flares”
I Am Number For is released in UK cinemas tomorrow.