I Am Number Four, as a movie, is better than the book. Unfortunately, that’s not saying a lot. It’s altogether an okay movie, but it lacks spark and freshness, so it ultimately is quite boring.
Here’s a trailer:
Released February 18, 2011
Written by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, and Marti Noxon, based on the book by Jobie Hughes (using the penname Pittacus Lore)
Directed by DJ Caruso
Starring: Dianna Agron, Teresa Palmer, Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Kevin Durand, Callan McAuliffe, and Jake Abel
* * * * *
John Smith (Pettyfer) and the man he calls his father, Henri (Olyphant), are not from this world. They come from a different planet and here on earth they are being hunted by some bad guys called the Mogadorians, led by their chief ugly baddy (Durand). John is the fourth of seven young people from their world, and apparently they must be killed in a certain order. When the third of the young people is killed, a bright shining tattoo appears on John’s leg, alerting him to the fact that he’s next on the Mogadorians’ hit list.
John and Henri’s chief strategy is to lay low and stay off radar so the Mogadorians will have no way of finding them. The problem is that John has uncontrollable powers and such that are difficult and sometimes impossible to hide.
Do you see the problem with this story yet? You will in the Critique section.
So John and Henri go on the run, finding new identities in a smallish town, whereupon John insists that he go to school to appear normal. Although both he and Henri know that alien things are going to keep happening to John and a public high school is a terrible place to try to keep those things quiet.
So that makes sense.
But it’s all fine because that’s when Dianna Agron shows up. She plays Sarah Hart, a sweet young lady who photographs all kinds of things and who immediately shares a connection with John Smith. Sarah, of course, has a jealous jock of a previous boyfriend, Mark (Abel), so now we have a good excuse to see John’s powers in action.
Sam (McAuliffe) sees what John does and is convinced that John is not of this world and that John can help Sam find his dad, who had alien encounters.
Meanwhile, the Mogadorians are getting closer. And this all ends in a big, nasty, CG-filled showdown in the high school, during which a mysterious girl (Palmer) shows up and kicks everyone’s butt.
Look, Pettyfer, Olyphant, Agron, and the others do their level best with the material. But when your story never gives a reason for any of the action, a motivation for the aliens to have been attacked and swept from their planet, followed by a reason for the Mogadorians to have chased them to Earth– or at least a believable reason– then the movie’s just not going to work. Add to that the fact that John is essentially a complete idiot, his love for Sarah might actually just be something that occurs due to the biology of his race, and that a random creature shows up for no apparent reason– and you just have nothing to connect with.
In I Am Number Four, you have formulaic tripe that feels mass-produced in order to score the most money possible. Which is no surprise, since this movie is a product of what is essentially an unethical novel/movie factory run by James Frey– that guy who got publicly excoriated on Oprah for his Million Little Pieces fabrication.
In fairness, there are some okay interactions and some of the dialogue snaps along nicely, and the effects are nearly flawless. But this is an empty, poorly thought-out story. At least it’s not too long and you get to watch Dianna Agron be a truly graceful person.
Content warnings: Some mid-level language, a fair amount of scifi violence
Writing: 1.5 Acting: 3 Overall: 2
Be number 1 and make this review the number 1 thing you share on your social networks, or mean Mogadorians will come and saute you in a white wine sauce.
Also, did you like this book and/or movie? Tell me what’s wrong with you in the comments and maybe we can get you some help.