Out of 10 stars.
I Am Number Four was one of those movies I’d been vaguely interested in, not because it was a sci-fi flick, but because it was an adaptation of a children’s novel. Having watched so many adaptations bomb at the box office, I’d actually hoped that the director might attempt something different, play up the intergalactic intrigue and the mystical symbolism thing Number Four had going, and maybe save it from the gutter.
I should have known better. When you throw Michael ‘Disaster’ Bay and the very disturbing D.J. Caruso (of Disturbia fame) together, you know you’ll end up with a very disturbing disaster. Number Four’s a film that tries to get a rise out of you, then falls short on so many levels it’s not even funny.
It’s blatantly obvious that Number Four’s a new spin on the Superman thing.
John Smith (not his real name) is an alien from the planet Lorien who’s escaped the complete and utter destruction of his planet at the hands of the Mogadorians (alien shark people who look kinda like the guys from Star Trek).
He’s happily living on Earth when his cover is blown, and he is forced to escape with his minder to the town of Paradise, Ohio. Predictably, he falls in love, gains a sidekick (in the form of the school nerd), gets on the bad side of the town jocks (hurhur), tangles with space freaks, and blows up the school in the process.
It doesn’t end there, of course. By the end of the movie, he’s resolved to find the rest of his alien friends, so with their powers combined, they could end the Mogadorian threat forever.
It’s hard to believe that the novel Number Four’s based on spent several weeks at the top of the New York Times Bestsellers list (which goes to show that mainstream readers will read just about anything), when it’s pretty much a book, and now a film, about emo teen angst, growing pains, and puppy love combined with space invaders and super powers.
The script, too, doesn’t impress.
The macguffin – a glowing box of glowing stuff, is introduced early, but by the end of the story, no one knows what it does, except that it’s “important”. If Chekhov could see it now, people, I bet he’d be pulling the trigger on this one.
Also, Number Six (Teresa Palmer, a veritable babe in total control of herself) has a habit of showing up and cleaning up Number Four’s messes, like magic. Invisible, leather clad, sexy magic. Hello, Director Ex Machina much?
Admittedly, Caruso isn’t as big on explosions as Bay, and this modicum of restraint proved refreshing. The special effects and choreography weren’t particularly stellar, but they weren’t particularly bad either.
Don’t expect anything award winning in the acting department though. Alex Pettyfer is there to look pretty, and while Dianna Agron attempts to play a cheerleader turned shutterbug with depth, the characters remain rather much 1D.
I’m wondering if Number Four would have made a better OVA than a movie.
There’s a lot that animation can do that can’t be translated on the big screen, and it’s got all the hallmarks of something Madhouse or Geneon could do.
Still, there’s not a whole lot to see here. Number Four might make a good popcorn movie, but that’s all it’ll ever be.
Hopefully the sequel (and I bet you there’ll be a sequel) is marginally better.