Comic book films are more popular than ever with Marvel and DC properties popping up every other month. With so much well known property floating around, it’s refreshing to see something a little more original and I Am Number Four, while flawed, does a good job of bringing that freshness.
John Doe (Alex Pettyfer) is one of the last of his race; in fact he is the titular number four. He’s the fourth of nine teenagers from his planet that make up The Garde and have special powers and are being hunted down one by one by a evil race of aliens called Mogadorians. Due to a protective charm The Garde can only be killed in numerical order and one through three have already bitten the dust. Literally, in fact, as when these particular aliens die they turn to dust like vampires in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
John and his guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant) are always on the run around the American countryside, trying to maintain a low profile and stay off of the Mogadorians’ radar. John stops worrying about his own safety after they settle in the small town of Paradise, Ohio where he makes friends with Sam (Callan McAuliffe), an outcast at school and alien enthusiast, and conveniently falls in love with Sarah (Dianna Agron). She used to date the head jock and now has a passion for photography. Soon the Mogadorians are hot on his trail and they are not the most discriminating with their violence.
What really makes this film work is the time it spends building the main characters and the relationship between John and Sarah. With such a ridiculous and complicated backstory the film easily could have gotten bogged down in that, but instead leaves that all to the background and the film is much better for it.
Pettyfer does a great job playing the teenage alien. At one point he is standing outside Sarah’s house and you can see in his face his longing for the simple human life that Sarah leads. “It’s just a house.” She says, or something to that effect. “Yeah, I know.” He responds. In any number of other films, the point of this scene could easily be hammered over the viewer’s head, but here it’s subtle and effective.
Sadly, this film isn’t the great superhero movie it probably could have been. Part is due to the complicated backstory that delves into the realm of ludicrous. The whole protective charm thing seems like a very convenient plot device more than anything. But as stated earlier, film doesn’t dwell too long on these subjects. The way the aliens die, as mentioned above, is very frustrating too. Every time they turn to dust, all one can think is “vampires.” These aren’t vampires, they’re aliens, so why do they turn to dust? Maybe they’ll answer that question in the sequel.
The other big problems with this film are the villains. What makes a film like this, almost more than the heroes, are the villains and in this film the Mogadorians don’t deliver. They aren’t given hardly any development and serve only to be generic evil creatures after the hero. The same can be said for the super generic jock who taunts John in school. They also have really annoying voices. It’s hard to see where they were going for with this but whatever the intent it just didn’t work; every time they opened their mouths to talk is bothersome and takes away from the film’s potential.
Despite its flaws, I Am Number Four is a lot of fun and perhaps more fun than it has any right to be. But if you’re sick of seeing your superheroes in tights and long for something different from your typical DC or Marvel fair, this might be a film worthy of your time.
I Am Number Four is presented in 1.88:1 widescreen and Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Master Audio with French and Spanish language tracks and English, French and Spanish subtitles. This is a great looking film. The only complaint I have about this Blu-ray is the sound, the dialog is really quiet compared to the big action sequences and I found myself having to turn the volume up and down a few times throughout the film.
Deleted Scenes: (19 min.) Director DJ Caruso intros each deleted scene. If nothing else you get a great scene where Karen Allen plays Sam’s mother. This should have stayed in. The other one’s aren’t bad either. All-in-all, pretty solid as far as deleted scenes go.
Becoming Number Six: (12 min.) A typical but fun behind the scenes specifically focusing on Teresa Palmer, who plays alien Number 6.
Bloopers: (3 min.) Okay blooper reel. Nothing really great here.
This is a fun superhero origin story that’s pleasantly fresh, as it’s not based on a Marvel or DC character. It’s not perfect, but the 13-14 year old me would have LOVED this film and I think that’s some pretty good praise. Surprisingly worth sitting through at least once. Also, following Caruso’s last two films, Disturbia and Eagle Eye, I was really grateful that Shia LaBeouf was not the lead in this film.
Touchstone and Dreamworks Pictures present I Am Number Four. Directed by: D.J. Caruso. Written by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar and Marti Noxon. Based on the novel by Pittacus Lore. Starring: Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Teresa Palmer, Dianna Agron, Callan McAuliffe and Kevin Durand. Running time: 109 min. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and for brief language. Released on Blu-ray: May 24, 2011.
Tags: Alex Pettyfer, D.J. Caruso, I Am Number Four, Kevin Durand, Teresa Palmer, Timothy Olyphant