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I Am Number Four (2011)

| August 13, 2011 | 0 Comments

I guess he’s fortunate that he wasn’t Number Two.

I Am Number Four is a teen science fiction thriller so shabby that it resembles a failed TV pilot that never got picked up. If it did, I can’t imagine that it could muster enough interest for public access. The main inspiration seems to have been to cobble together pieces and parts from other and much better movies like X-Men, E.T., Terminator, Aliens, Clash of the Titans, V and many, many others. Most obviously though, it hitches its wagon to the success of Twilight, which also features a broody hunk who lives among other equally good-looking people put possesses a dark secret. It so closely resembles that earlier film that its studio might have the makings of a tremendous lawsuit if this movie weren’t too ridiculous to bother.

The difference here is that the hero isn’t a vampire, he’s an alien. Not only is he an alien, but he is the last of his kind. His name is John (Alex Pettyfer) and he is a visitor from the planet Lorien along with his Obi-Wan sidekick called Henri (Timothy Olyphant). John and Henri have escaped to earth and landed in Florida where they are posing as father and son.Several others of their kind have also landed here in different countries and some have been killed off. The reason they are here is that they are on the run from a hideous race of beings called Mogadorians. The twist is that the Mogadorians can only kill the surviviors in a certain sequence. Three are now dead and John is . . . well . . . he is Number Four.

John and Henri, in an effort to avoid detection, move from Florida to Ohio to hide out. In an effort to appear like normal human beings, they decide to lay low and act like normal human beings. This means that Alex must attend the local high school. But, why? Do the Mogadorians have a concept of high school. Do they figure that kids out of school might be aliens from another planet? Might it be more productive to get with the government and hide out at NORAD? How about the Bermuda Triangle? There’s a place to get lost in.

John discovers that he has a bizarre power. He can shoot bright lights out of the palms of his hands. This has to be the stupidest looking power that I have ever seen, he holds out his hand and there is a beam . . . a beam of light even in places where there can’t be any dust. Henri trains John in how to use those lights as a weapon, something like a Force Push only you can’t help but think that this power would seem to be rather limited.

What is so disappointing about this movie is that, given that setup, there was potential to make something really great. Instead it is a step by step retreat of every high school movie and sci-fi monster fest that you’ve ever seen. Alex makes friends with your standard movie conspiracy nut, a kid named Sam (Callen McAuliffe). He falls in love with the prettiest girl in school, your standard movie teen beauty, named Sarah (Dianna Agron). Sarah has a jerk of an ex-boyfriend named Mark (Jake Abel) who is your standard high school bully. There’s even a standard cute dog dog sniffing around, who’s transformation late in the film is telegraphed from the moment we see him. Plus there’s a hot looking blonde skulking around that we pinpoint right away as an otherworldly bounty hunter.

Then, of course, there are the Mogadarians, an ugly race of aliens with sharp teeth and tattoos who, naturally, speak English fluently and miraculously don’t bite their tongues on those rows of teeth. One line of dialogue might have helped to explain this, but maybe I’m asking too much. All of the characters come together in the end to have a giant special effects battle in the high school (filmed at night of course) with walls crashing, windows shattering, steam billowing, water escaping and several over-sized rat-monsters tearing up the shower in the gymnasium. I was less thrilled by the action in that scene then I was concerned about school board having to get money to clean all that up. With the financial mess the country is in right now . . whew!

I Am Number Four is based on a teen book by the curiously named Pettacus Lore, which is actually the pseudonym for James Frey and Jobie Hughes. I can’t imagine what the experience of reading this book could be but, if it is anything like this movie, I’m betting that it is a wonderful cure for insomnia. I would like to hope that it can answer the questions that this movie fails to raise.

Sci-Fi movies like this get under my skin. They’re cobbled together out of parts of other movies and leave us with questions that should have been discussed in the script phase. Like, where do these creatures come from? Where is there planet in conjunction with ours? Are there other organic beings out there? What is your planet like? How did you get here? What is your technology like? Are there other races? What do they know about us? What is your civilization like? How can your technology benefit mankind? See, they would never want to come to earth and visit me because I wouldn’t shut up with the questions

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.