‘I Am Number Four’ Review

Published 4 years ago by , Updated June 23rd, 2011 at 2:46 pm,

i am number four review I Am Number Four Review

Screen Rant’s Roth Cornet reviews I Am Number Four

I Am Number Four is an amalgamation of every conceivable snare for both the male and female teenage animal. With thematic and visual references to classic teen-angst romances such as Rebel Without A Cause and the contemporary paranormal young-love phenomenon The Twilight Saga, as well as a third act infusion of the Michael Bay-brand action, I Am Number 4 shamelessly grasps for every last leaf on the young-adult movie money tree.

Using a sci-fi (rather than paranormal) template as the backdrop for the story, the film attempts to appeal to the boys, and distinguish itself from the popular made-for-girls romances of the day, such as The Vampire Diaries and, of course, the aforementioned Twilight. Though the film does take advantage of certain romantic conceits found in the paranormal genre — for example the biologically-compelled faithfulness of perfectly constructed men.

I Am Number Four tells the tale of Number 4/John Smith, the fourth of nine alien children who were forced to flee their home planet of Lorien after it was brutally ravaged by the evil (and wretchedly unattractive) Mogadorians. Herein lies the film’s first moral lesson to the youth of the world: Bad folks = ugly, good folks = Abercrombie & Fitch, no guess work required.

The “Mogs” must kill each of the nine children in numerical order (for arbitrary reasons) before the children can manifest their “legacies” (super-powers) and utilize them to stop the Mogs’ attempt take over the Earth (a hostile takeover which is being attempted, once again, for what appears to be arbitrary reasons). You would think the Mogs would be reveling in their recent conquer of Lorien, but no.

Number Four/John Smith played by Alex Pettyfer – truly one of the most gorgeous young men the British Isles have ever produced – has chosen this moment to claim his independence from his mentor/protector Henri, played by Timothy Olyphant. The threat of immanent death, the destruction of a second planet, and failing to fulfill the promise of his destiny, is seemingly not enough motivation for John to discourage a cute girl from taking his photo (repeatedly) and posting it on her website for all the world (and the Mogadorians) to see.

I Am Number Four Pettyfer Agron I Am Number Four Review

The shutter-bug in question is a recent member of the outsiders portion of the high-school populace. Sarah, played by Glee’s Dianna Agron, is no ordinary nerd, however. No, she is the coveted cheerleader-turned-hispter-artist, who is too deep for the superficiality of high school (kind of like her character on Glee). She even comes equipped with an array of 35 mm cameras with which to shoot her damning portraits, a knit cap to demonstrate her superior sense of suburban-bohem, and perfect beauty – lest we forget what is really important (please refer to Number 4′s lesson one for the youth).

Sarah has a hangover from her days with the “in” crowd, in the form of an over-zealous ex-boyfriend. Guess which sport he plays? Hint, it’s not figure skating. Leaving no cliche unmolested — it’s football. Of course he and his gang of stereotypical Midwest gombas harass the school geek, who our gallant Number Four (shockingly) takes it upon himself to defend.

Sam (Callan McAuliffe), the geek in question, is relentlessly teased due to his father’s belief in, and discovery of, the Lorien alien species. Four quickly becomes best friends with Sam (the geek) and falls in love with Sarah (the sexually serene) via the magic of the movie-montage. Lending itself to the time-lapsed love story is Four’s (previously-mentioned) biological imperative to love one, and only one, woman forever... It seems that it is not enough to fall in love anymore – now a romance must guarantee the happily-ever-after via the genetic imprisonment of the boy. “Lorien’s don’t love like the humans,” you see. Apparently this is the bone being thrown to the young adult girls in the audience who might otherwise be somewhat concerned about following their hearts into alien Armageddon.

For the boys, there is a second gorgeous blond female character – a hot girl who kicks mad “Mog” butt and straddles a motorcycle (yep). Six, played by the sizzling Teresa Palmer (Lorien either did not create unattractive people, or did not allow them survive their global Apocalypse), has been on the trail of Four and the “Mogs” in an attempt to bring the fight to the villains. Fortunately Six arrives just in time for the most exiting portion of the film, a genuinely well-construed and entertaining end action sequence in which, in true teen fantasy style, the High-School is wrecked, and entire the football field is destroyed. Cue the end credits.

I Am Number Four Teresa Palmer I Am Number Four Review

Despite the ludicrously manipulative story structure, the young actors deliver fine performances. They are committed to their roles and are perhaps the only people involved in the production (other than director DJ Caruso) who are sincere about their investment in the project. The film is well-made in the sense of being well shot, with mostly well-done effects work and strong action sequences, as mentioned.

The real issue with I Am Number Four is that it so obviously reads as pandering. Movies are incredibly hard to make, and in general there is a lot that can be forgiven in the face of what a film is offering: a simple good-time, a laugh, and/or a daring approach that others are not taking. Some would claim that I Am Number Four was not made for adults as a way to explain and excuse its flaws. Yet, the film’s greatest weakness is indeed its overt and insincere grab at its young adult target demographic.

Given the opportunity to create a coming-of-age story (of a sort), the filmmakers did not choose to make a Stand By Me, an E.T., or even a unique and engaging alien-romance such as Starman (which the filmmakers clearly reference). No, there is no passion in this project, no heart, and little-to-no sincere investment in the story on the part of the creators. There is merely a financially-motivated attempt to spoon-feed regurgitated ideas from poorly constructed sources to an impressionable audience these filmmakers owe more to.

Producers Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay hired Smallville writing partners Alfred Gough and Miles Millar to work on the script, in tandem with I Am Number Four book series authors Jobie Hughes and controversial A Million Little Pieces author James Frey, writing under the pen name Pittacus Lore. (Side note: Pittacus Lore is a character who plays a significant role in the book series, but is not seen in the film.) In other words, screenwriters Gough and Millar worked in concurrence with Hughes and Frey in order to construct a unified version of the book and the film, with each informing the other, rather than adapting the film from a book which was created organically, with story in mind first and foremost.

I Am Number Four Extended Trailerjpg I Am Number Four Review

It is natural, in any business, to in some ways model or emulate what has been a successful formula for others. This film, however, feels a bit like a group of investors got together and opened a “MacDougals” chain in the hopes that at least some portion of the population would either mistake it for McDonalds, or wouldn’t care that it was a knock-off, so long as they received their high-fat, high-salt, food-product infusion. The original lacks nutrition at best, and is harmful at worst; the copy lacks nutrition, imagination, and integrity.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of this film’s formula is that it is likely going to work. Box office projections indicate that I Am Number Four will win as the highest-grossing film in its opening weekend – a feat that will promise us much more of the same hollow and derivative cinema in the years to come.

Check out the trailer for I Am Number Four:


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Our Rating:

2 out of 5

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    • “So after throwing a few police cars around and being hunted for murder and by the destroyers of your world; this intellectually challenged couple decide they are in dire need to develop photos of the hot guy and his dog. Mean while, bag guys are releasing what can only be described as a cross between a T-rex and a flying squirell.” -Kathandra

      LOL! Wasn’t thinking that when I was watching it. Although I was rather confused why they were developing photos at a time like that. In the book, that scene takes place at a completely different time. Does that make the movie any better? No of course not but I feel a strange need to defend it anyway. I thought the movie sucked. It might be okay for a 12 year old. . .

  1. It’s just… not for me… I guess. The thing is I didn’t like the Edward Saga too.

  2. The book was cliche, but I liked it because the little nuances and details kept it interesting and there were still a few surprises here and there. The movie was okay, but I can’t really say that I “liked” it. Mainly because I read the book, and the parts that I liked about the book were completely removed from the movie altogether. It seemed like the plot was harder for me to follow, and they made it way too much of an action flick. Yes the book had action but it fit in with the plot it didn’t dominate it as much. Things seemed to make a lot more since in the book, whereas the movie left me confused and if I hadn’t read the book I wouldn’t even know what was happening. I just hate it when a move really seems short. And not in a “what? It’s over already?” kind of way but in a “I’m still waiting for all the plot and the entertainment that I was expecting” kind of way. I was expecting to be disappointed before I watched it anyway because the movies are never as good as their book counterparts. But I kind of thought I would at least still like it.

  3. The actors/actresses are only props. They look good, they sound good, but Pettyfer’s happy face was ‘:|’ his sad face was ‘:|’ and his intense face was ‘:|’

    Learn how to act before you take on a Sci-Fi movie. It was typical, cliche and boring. You can immediately tell after 2 minutes of the movie the ending. Pretty blonde cheerleader with the mysterious bad boy. Yeah. Right.

    Personally, Agron is a fairly good actress. However the script was just atrocious. The movie took god knows — donkeys years — to release, which is just insufferably annoying.

    It tries to appeal to an older audience, when basically it’s a remake of Twilight that met some crazy alien planet. Twilight didn’t appeal to me, it’s targeted at a young audience with all it’s cliches. However the books were good.

    All the attention was set around Pettyfers character, and as a male lead, he is not good. He looks the part, surely, but he cannot cope with being the male lead of what is suspected to be a hit movie. All the other characters’ were pushed aside, making room for the big star. That failed. For me? A good movie has to include all the other characters, making them have a fair amount of screen time. I hate characters’ that are completely ignored and neglected when they tend to be good actors/actresses anyway.

    2/5 – Good acting from everyone but Pettyfer, atrocious storyline, boring script and insufferably long times to release. The very little action scenes we did get, however, were adequate and well pulled off. And as usual, everyone in the movie was hot, which, just brings your self esteem down.

    • not all actors/actress can pull the correct face for a part even if they try and practice it sometimes it just doesn’t come

  4. um, yea, ur reveiew… SUCKS! it came in 3rd at the box office! its a great movie! it has a hot guy, comedy, action, romance, and relatable charictors! my male cousin, who is 30 years old, even said it was a GREAT movie. so um….. good luck convincing the millions of fans out there that its a bad movie, cuz it rocks! u guys r HORRIBLE at reveiwing, cuz u think EVERY movie sux, and um, ur wrong. k bye!

  5. Its a amazing book but the film cant get worse. Read the book but don’t waste your money and watch the film!

    • the movie is great and it inspired me to read the book which i think it did to alot of people………… i guess your not a movie person

  6. hi

  7. The movie was awesome
    it has inspired me to read the book..
    Cant wait for the second movie wish it would hurry up and come out
    because it is an awesome movie and the people that don’t think it was must not be human…………..

  8. Liked the book. Movie was a complete disappointment. It only kept the basic idea of the book and then ignored a lot of the smaller details.

  9. I recently read the book and fell inlove with it!
    Then I watched the movie and was slightly disapointed…
    I know movies aren’t exact replicas of the novels but I felt like they didn’t give the novel the justice it truly deserved!
    For example, Henri was perceived in the film as distant, closed and unfather-like to John. When in the novel he is a major part of the novel especially in John’s growth personally and in training John to develop legacies. When Henri died in the novel it was so sad but in the film it lacked any emotion because him and John weren’t even that close it seemed. The movie made Henri out to be a character to be annoyed at and nothing like the father-figure he was in the novel.
    Also, the end fight scene, although it had some cool action bits here and there… it made it out to be too easy for the Loric people! I was like really? There was like 10 of the ‘Mogs’ and 2 Loric homies and they killed them so easily! geez! In the novel the Lorics had the disadvantage not hte Mogs. This movie had so much potiential! They should’ve made a mini Tv series or something because with books like this you need to capture details! Good greif.