“I Am Number Four” (2011)
Directed by D.J. Caruso
Running Time 110 Minutes, Rated PG-13
3 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com
Going into this sci-fi alien invasion “Twilight” wannabe, I predicted that new release, “I Am Number Four”, was going to take a big old number two. Low expectations might be the number one cause for my mild enjoyment of this probable franchise starter looking to make sequels at least to the number three. Styled a bit too teenybopper for me, this easily maligned film title comes from Pittacus Lore’s (pen name) sci-fi teen romance novel of the same title. This “X-Files”, meets “Glee”, meets “Smallvile”, meets “Buffy”, meets “Roswell” movie length CW episode, may make you feel like you’ve been there before with it’s moments of cleverness but even more with it’s moments of sappy puppy-love cringeness. In the end though, there are enough pieces to put together a story that I’d continue to follow.
The film opens with an atrociously lit scene of an alien young man of the Lorien race on the run (looking like Sonic the Hedgehog), who is eventually disposed of by the hands of the warring goofy-looking Mogadorian race. This Lorien was the third of nine specially designated with abilities to fight off the Mogadorians plot for (hold your breathe) world domination. Cut to #4 played by the up and coming pretty boy Alex Pettyfer (in “Beastly” later this year). Pettyfer is a big bowl of vanilla ice cream, he doesn’t offer up too much extra in his performance but then again ice cream is ice cream- tasty enough (that came off wrong). Moving from town to town #4 has Henri (Timothy Olyphant) protecting him in a father figure role that knows how important #4 really is. The ever-wonderful Olyphant, who’s rocking the gray here, gives some much needed veteran talent to this young cast by making more than he should of a script that fails him time after time.
After #4 has to relocate once again, this new town provides him with all the high school staples every growing boy needs: a young love interest, photgrapher, Sarah (Glee’s Diann Agron), her Karate-Kid jealous jock ex-boyfriend who can’t let go, and the school’s nerd to protect (Callan McAuliffe). This is all meshed with some engaging sci-fi and pretty decent action. #4 is going through some adolescent body changes, but it’s more than just newly found hair and growth spurts as he learns how to deal with light shooting out of his hands and more. Of course these plot lines are cheesy, but at least the script allows us to get to know them in their cheesiness.
Thanks to director D.J. Caruso (Salton Sea, Disturbia, Eagle Eye) keeping the film at a brisk pace we’re not bogged down too much with thought that the first 90 minutes are just there to get us ready for the films finale that will lead into studio predestined sequels. Caruso also show’s “I Am Number Four” with a darker tone than most of this genre’s feel. In the first two acts the film is a little light on taking itself seriously but a definite tone shift kicks into gear for the third act as real tension is paved from characters deaths. The film really kicks into gear when scene stealer Lorien #6 shows up played by Aussie native Teresa Palmer kicking butt and helping #4 battle the consistently dark and funny fellow scene stealer Kevin Durand as the Mogadorian Commander. This is met with some pretty decent action pieces, but it could have done without the CGI shape-shifting gecko/ dog/ something much bigger creature that saves more than 15% percent on car insurance and tells you if Timmy is stuck in a well.
Like I said, “I Am Number Four” moderately succeeds for the most part.
Like I said, “this” moderately succeeds for the most part.