Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Dianna Agron
Alfred Gough, Marti Noxon, Miles Millar, James Frey (Novel), Jobie Hughes (Novel)
Becoming Number 6;
I Am Number Four is from the director of Disturbia.
Is that the movie Disturbia or the Rihanna video?
For that matter, who the heck directed Disturbia?
Why do I even care?
I'm absolutely fine when a film's marketing is centered around a particularly successful member of its cast or crew.
Meryl Streep? Makes sense.
Tom Hanks? Absolutely.
Angelina Jolie. Of course.
Heck, Martin Scorsese? Totally!
Co-lead Timothy Olyphant is likely more of a household name, but with Caruso riding alongside Michael Bay it seems that having a modestly successful film like Disturbia is enough to warrant billing yourself as the marquee attraction for what is, let's face it, a modestly interesting but mostly paint-by-numbers rip-off of better cinematic adventures that you've mostly already seen.
John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) is a teenager on the run from enemies out to kill him. Three are dead, he's alive (of course!). He floats from town to town, never establishing connections and never planting roots with the exception of his guardian, Henri (Timothy Olyphant). In the small Ohio town that he now calls home, John's life begins to change as he discovers new abilities, first love and a connection to others who share his destiny.
Despite stilted dialogue based upon a novel by James Frey and Jobie Hughes and penned by a trio of writers, there may be an audience for this flick - mostly young adults who have already embraced the Twilight films and who are obviously not bothered by simplistic plot, silly dialogue and a story that is completely and utterly predictable.
I Am Number Four is difficult to take seriously as a film, just as James Frey is difficult to take seriously as anything resembling an author. Frey is likely best known as the disgraced author of A Million Little Pieces, his "autobiographical" fiction that was first endorsed by Oprah who then publicly went whupass on Frey when the book's inconsistencies were brought to light. Eventually, Oprah would make nice with Frey and Frey used all of his notoriety to keep writing and to establish Full Fathom Five, essentially a ghostwriting factory from which came this novel and this film.
Clearly designed with the intention of starting a "series," I Am Number Four has both the Michael Bay and Spielberg names attached to it and features attractive up-and-coming Brit actor Alex Pettyfer along with Glee's Dianna Agron as his love interest, Sarah.
Virtually every moment in I Am Number Four's 110 minutes feels familiar, from the cheesiness of the faux romantic styled dialogue of Twilight to the trumped up slo-mo action sequences that are so hilariously campy that one almost has to believe that director D.J. Caruso was in on the joke and did this all intentionally.
Rather than vampires, I Am Number Four features aliens stranded on earth after their planet was invaded by the kick ass Mogadorians. There are eight who successfully fled the planet, the first three have been dispatched and our bad guys are after John Smith.
Is there any doubt where this is going?
Aliens hiding. Romance. Cultural Integration. Kick ass action sequences.
Yep. Yep. Yep. Yep.
Were it not for the film's final 30 minutes or so, there would be little if anything worth recommending here. However, in the film's final 30 minutes Caruso ups the ante as the conflict between the Mogadorians and our aliens picks up pace as the small town of Paradise, Ohio feels the pain.
While the film's CGI is decidedly old school and the film itself is only rated PG-13, the action sequences are choreographed quite nicely and, rather surprisingly, this part of the film has enough punch to it to practically carry the rest of the film. While Pettyfer isn't given much to do here, he has enough screen charisma to keep his character interesting and to make the teen girls swoon. Dianna Agron arguably gives the film's best performance, not unlike Twilight's Kristen Stewart, with a quietly emotional and low-key perf that is strangely inviting. Timothy Olyphant is always interesting to watch onscreen, but there's little denying that his character here isn't one of his bigger challenges and there are times he looks a bit bored himself.
By no means an awful film, I Am Number Four may very well accomplish enough to be considered a decent date flick for teens and young adults who will appreciate its young stars and simplistic romantic ideals. Most others, including practically anyone over the age of 25, will simply want to rush home and flip in their Twilight DVD to see the same thing done in an infinitely more interesting manner.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic