I Am Number Four (2011)
Release Date: February 18th, 2011 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: D.J. Caruso Actors: Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Teresa Palmer, Dianna Agron, Kevin Durand, Emily Wickersham
f you’ve enjoyed a steady diet of “Twilight” films, superhero movies, and sci-fi television shows, you might like “I Am Number Four.” But probably not. The film, based on the young-adult novel of the same name, derives almost its entirety from other related materials, leaving individuality a permanently absent entity. The most disconcerting problem is that “Twilight” does the high-school romances better, the comic-book movies handle the action with more finesse, and the television shows contain fewer cardboard characters. If this is number four, I’m just thankful we didn’t have to wallow through one, two, and three.
After their homeworld of Lorien is besieged by the Mogadorians, a ruthless race of alien intruders, only nine gifted youngsters escape to Earth and await their destiny. John (Alex Pettyfer) is one such survivor, who, along with his guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant), must constantly stay on the run to avoid being found by the Mogadorians. After learning of the assassination of another Lorien, John and Henri head to Paradise, Ohio where they hope to lay low and discover a way to make contact with their remaining allies. When John falls in love with Sarah (Dianna Agron), a pretty photographer at his high school, he decides to stay and fight rather than continue running – a decision that will pit him against a relentless team of brutal alien executioners.
Sometimes, (though rarely) mediocre dialogue can be forgiven in the presence of great action. Unfortunately, “I Am Number Four” has neither. The direction of conversation, if not the actual exchanges, can probably be guessed before anyone has spoken and the revelations often rival those found in an episode of “Scooby-Doo.” The dialogue drifts into extremely awkward territory on a number of occasions and can’t even grasp realism when the conversations are supposed to be maladroit. Friendships, fatherly guidance, antagonistic threats, and confessions of love never felt so lame.
Perhaps even rarer yet, humdrum dialogue can be dismissed when uttered by intriguing characters and inspiring demeanors. Still nothing here. In John’s defense, he is supposed to be trying to blend in and become invisible. He succeeds, but that does the audience a disservice. Sarah lends an arguably pretty face, but certainly no more, and Timothy Olyphant’s Henri tries ever so hard but can’t overcome the tedium of the script. The otherworldly villains are perhaps the most cringe-worthy, spitting broken English over harsh alien speech and committing the cardinal sin of talking too much before killing their victims.
A few interesting shots during combat do make an appearance, though their ingenuity quickly vanishes beneath the shoddy special effects. The CG behemoth beasts look to be the lovechild of a flying squirrel and the “Cloverfield” monster. If inexplicably powerful teenagers, giant sugar glider creatures, and hokey glowing flashlight hands are your cup of tea, this one’s for you.
– Joel Massie