D.J. Caruso’s I Am Number Four was entertaining and action packed, but still romantic and thoughtful — you know, in a manly sort of way. Admittedly, I didn’t recognize the director’s name but after looking him up I realized he’s made a number of films I’ve liked — Disturbia (note: Rear Window was so good), Taking Lives, The Salton Sea. The film is about a group of sexy extraterrestrials with superpowers. Their nation’s people basically experienced genocide and all but a few escaped to seek refuge on Earth. But evil, creepy as hell, Mogadorians are hunting them down one by one.
Eric Robinette didn’t like the film so much, saying, “The movie had potential — but it failed to live up to it … The story focuses on the characters, and the lead actors are all solid. Then, it devolves into an elaborate demo reel for visual effects artists and sound editors.” Robinette also called the film “soulless and mechanical.”
Maybe it just went over my head, but I didn’t think we ever got the motive for why the Mogadorians needed to kill the young aliens. Or if we did, it wasn’t motive enough. They basically want to kill everyone, so why make it more complicated by going in sequence? Anyway, John (Alex Pettyfer) is the main character, he’s alien number four that’s currently being hunted. He’s got super-strength and can make light come out of his hands (silly). Of course, John quickly falls for Sarah (Dianna Agron) at the latest city he and his guardian Henri (Tim Olyphant) find themselves in, Paradise, Ohio. There’s even a shout out to Dayton in the film.
While the relationship between John and Sarah develops and strengthens, so does the hunt for his blood. The Mogadorians were very mysterious creatures that kept heavily feeding a caged up beast that the audience didn’t see until the last 30 minutes. At the same time, there was a shape shifter following John’s every move and it was really hard to tell if it was a good or bad being. Suspense built up pretty well throughout the film. As well the film’s imagery during the action film’s was good — I mainly liked seeing the big beasts fight each other.
The relationships were a strong part of the film. Sarah and John have in common the fact that they are stifled by the environments around them and they are never able to reach their full potential because of selfish people holding them back. Agron (“Glee”) was a standout in this film. As well, the relationship between Henri and John was a thoughtful one because they were like father and son. Henri was very protective of John and made the ultimate sacrifice. Even the friendships that develop between John and the geeky Sam (Callan McAuliffe) and bully Mark (Jake Abel) were enjoyable to watch on-screen. Pretty much all the relationships had relatable moments that made them more sincere.
The whole film I kept waiting for the character of Number 6, played by Teresa Palmer, to step into the frame. From the trailer it seemed she would be a large part of the film, but she ended up having little time at all. Her screen time was just enough to break up the focus on John and Sarah. Robinette says, “The character of Number 6 is so thinly written, she might as well be called “Hot Chick Who Kicks Ass in the Last Reels.” And I could see the final “twist” of the big battle scene coming about three country miles away.”
It’s hard to believe Pettyfer is such a young star. At 20 and with not much experience, he did great in the film. He’s also in the upcoming Beastly, a modern-day Beauty and the Beast, which looks terrible! But then again if it’s got Vanessa Hudgens and Mary-Kate Olsen it’s bound to be bad, right?
Read Robinette’s full review here.