the surface, at least, I Am Number Four appears to have some
similarities to the Twilight films. It is based on a best-selling
young adult novel about a gorgeous-but-outcast girl who falls in love with a
hunky guy who is frequently without a shirt and also has a supernatural
However, if the Twilight movies are targeting the teen girl
demographic, I Am Number Four has its eye set squarely on bringing in
might explain why the first film of the potential series was met with a much
more muted response than its more well-known competition. Let’s face it,
the teen boys have more options and if this movie wants to capture them, it
really has to bring it’s A game.
And while I Am Number Four is actually a good deal better than I
expected it might be, it just isn’t really good enough.
What it is, though, is an occasionally uncomfortable but sometimes
very entertaining mash-up of sci-fi blockbuster and teen angst. What is
rather surprising is that the fantastic elements of the movie do not work as
well as the smaller, more human scenes. Too many of the rampaging alien
monsters seem a bit clichéd and silly. And while the high school scenes can
in no way be described as unique, at least they have a certain amount of
snap and drive which is somewhat missing in the more frenetic action
Those action scenes, on the other hand, try to marry the ordinary with the
extraordinary – giant killer monsters rampaging through high school
hallways! – and yet it has a been-there/done-that vibe. Perhaps it is
because of some extraordinarily silly looking monsters and aliens (they have
fish scales on their faces for no apparent reason), but the threat never
seems nearly as menacing as it wants to be.
The storyline is rather a sci-fi staple. An ancient race on another planet
is decimated, so they send some of their surviving children to Earth in
order to learn how to come back home and defeat their enemies.
There are ten of these surviving kids – know simply as Number One through
Number Ten – who are trying to blend in as Earth teens. However, somehow
the evil aliens have learned of their hiding place and have killed Numbers
One through Three. (Thoughtfully, the aliens are making things a bit easier
for the survivors by killing their prey in numeric order.)
Therefore, Number Four has to balance the problem of being a (very handsome)
new outcast in school with a big secret with the problem of staying alive
when a bunch of giant monsters are trashing your high school. Plus, he is
falling in puppy love with another high school outcast – who is similarly
gorgeous for an outcast – a local aspiring photographer played by Dianna
Argon of Glee.
Wannabe heartthrob star Alex Pettyfer (who can also be seen in Beastly)
is handsome and he can brood in manly despair as Number Four, but
that pretty much covers his talent. Still, he does have some nice romantic
scenes with Argon.
The women come off much better – Argon is cute and sweet as his crush and
midway through Teresa Palmer shows up and is a bundle of dynamite as
hard-assed fellow survivor Number Six. When she is on screen, even the
clichéd action sequences catch a spark.
And Timothy Olyphant – an inherently interesting actor – is saddled with
such a muddled character as Number Four’s guardian that even he can do
little to make any kind of impression.
The funny thing is that the teen angst sections of I Am Number Four
are actually rather effective, but they end up taking a back seat to the
much more pedestrian action sequences. There is enough that goes right in
I Am Number Four that it is worth a viewing, but this series is going
to have to raise its game if it wants to be another Twilight.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: May 24, 2011.