Rating: 3 stars out of 5
The Stars: Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Dianna Argon, Teresa Palmer, Callan McAuliffe.
The Story: The film focuses on young John Smith (Pettyfer), one of the nine teenaged alien survivors from Planet Lorien who possess special powers or “legacies”. Things get messy when the evil invaders, or Mogadorians, who destroyed their world come to Earth and begin to feverishly hunt them down. For reasons unexplained, these special Loriens can only be killed in order. With the first three obliterated, John (being Number Four) is next, forcing him and his warrior/fake-father-figure Henri (Olyphant) to hit the road. They eventually settle in paradise – Ohio - where he tries to fit in, falls in love with local girl Sarah Hart (Argon) and attracts the attention of her jealous boyfriend - not so good when you're prey trying to lay low. With the Mogadorians hot on his heels, John rallies support from fellow Lorien Number Six (Palmer) and newfound friend Sam (MaAuliffe).
The Buzz: I Am Number Four isbased on the New York Times best selling young adult novel of the same name by Pittacus Lore - really just a pseudonym for co-authors James Frey (who penned the controversial A Million Little Pieces) and Jobie Hughes, and is first in a proposed series of six. Produced by Michael Bay (Transformers, Pearl Harbour), movie rights to the film were also sold to DreamWorks Pictures a year before the book was published.
inSing.com thinks: This is one of those films that catches you by surprise; Director D.J Caruso (Disturbia, Eagle Eye) serves a competent effort garnished with healthy doses of above average CGI. Despite the story being basically a glossed-up patchwork of countless other science fiction works, it’s stitched together well enough to render the movie entertaining. Smallville and Buffy veteran writers Alfred Gough, Miles Millar and Marti Noxon lend brushes of dry wit and humour to the script, though given the generic nature of the plot, even they don’t have much room to spreadtheir wings. Some of the Superman and Roswell references are also all too painfully obvious, yet amidst the barrage of clichés it manages to strike an emotional chord with snippets of genuine moments – John wanting to fit in with the rest of his peers because he’s lonely, Sarah and him taking time to share and connect instead of the usual brooding/lip-biting match and some palatable if awkward fatherly displays of affection from Henri. It helps that Pettyfer and Argon (yes, the perky blonde cheerleader from Glee) are distractingly good-looking, and Palmer’s (let’s pretend that role in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice never happened) feisty Number Six will bring back fond memories of a time when super heroines could actually kick butt.
I Am Number Four presents rather decent film-making and a young cast who, contrary to their previous claims-to-fame, exhibit immense potential. As a first installment, it’s a class above your humdrum teen-friendly fare, just perhaps not good sequel material.