I AM NUMBER FOUR
STARRING: Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant,
Teresa Palmer, Dianna Agron, Kevin Durand, Callan McAuliffe, Jake Abel
2011, 104 Minutes, Directed by:
was bound to happen sooner or later. With I Am Number Four, Hollywood
attempts to branch out to other genres to find a new
something with heavy romantic and superhuman overtones that could be massaged
into a brand new franchise to take over the hearts and wallets of teens when the
sparkly vampires take a bow in 2012.
Though dealing with
intergalactic invasion, corporeal powers, and laser guns, I Am Number Four
is a relatively tame creation, lacking a thunderous, textured cinematic quality
that would separate it from the average ABC Family movie.
An alien from the planet Lorien,
Number Four (Alex Pettyfer) has come to Earth to hide from a vicious enemy known
as the Mogadorians. Guided by protector Henri (Timothy Olyphant), Four is
working his way through adolescence, finding himself in possession of several
Legacies that offer him exceptional powers.
Settling into a quiet life in
the suburb of Paradise, Ohio, Four comes across fellow teen Sarah (Dianna Agron)
at school, enchanted with her sense of kindness and photographic poetry.
Unfortunately, there’s little time for love, as the Mogadorians, with their
fearless leader Commander (Kevin Durand), draw near, forcing Four, human pal Sam
(Callan McAuliffe), and huntress Number Six (Teresa Palmer) to fight back,
working to gain full control over their Legacies.
Based on the best seller from
author Pittacus Lore (a pen name for writers Jobie Hughes and James Frey), I
Am Number Four has all the required ingredients for a modern teen movie.
There’s a mysterious, hunky lead character of limited sexual threat and
startling powers; huge amounts of knotted back-story with puzzling names and
purposes to sort out (often unsuccessfully) during the course of the movie; and
there’s a heavy fantasy angle that bleeds into swoony romantic yearn between two
teens unable to consummate their love due to villainous interference.
"Ultimately a protracted and uneventful origin tale . . ."
Certainly director D.J. Caruso
(Eagle Eye) isn’t going to pooh-pooh any similarities made between
Twilight and his film. Why throw
away such amazing box office potential?
I Am Number Four is a
children’s film, too frail to find an awesome voltage that would lend it a truly
epic stance. Instead, it’s a surprisingly drab creation, following Four as he
feels out the limits of his Legacies (interpreted here as glowing hands and
telekinesis), deflects trouble from school bullies, goes all angsty on guardian
Henri, and struggles to maintain a love connection with Sarah.
It’s ultimately a protracted
and uneventful origin tale, but that’s not made immediately clear, as Caruso
seems to be building toward a colossal showdown between Four and the Mogadorians
(goofy creatures who have gills located right next to their noses) for the
future of Earth. The clash does finally arrive in the final act, but it’s an
absolute snoozer set inside a high school, showcasing limp stunt choreography,
unimpressive special effects, and truly random acts of CGI-laden heroism.
I Am Number Four is a
tease, promising muscular genre goods it never delivers, led by a painfully
robotic performance from English actor Pettyfer, who spends the entirety of his
screen time fussing with his unconvincing American accent.
With comatose cinematography,
Durand cringingly overacting like a lunatic in the one-note villain role (he
gives the same garish performance in every movie), and a script that’s sculpted
solely for hardcore fans, I Am Number Four is often more irritating than
The kicker comes at the end,
which really isn’t a satisfying conclusion, but a ballsy, shameless cliffhanger
for a sequel. Caruso could’ve at least attempted a vague sense of finality to
show some genuine respect to his audience, but closure won’t encourage people to
follow Four again in a few years. Considering how uneventful the first
installment is, I’d be shocked if we ever hear from these characters on the big
screen again . . .
- Brian Orndorf