Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I Am Number Four (2011)

 Directed By D.J. Caruso; Dreamworks

This is a film that ended up on many websites' worst films list of 2011, even as far as reaching the number one overall spot. Based on the book by the same title, I Am Number Four was panned by critics and those unfamiliar with its literary origins. There were comparisons made to Twilight (the producers are to blame for that one), a swiss cheese plot and shots taken at the unoriginality within the story, which is even found in many great cinematic works nowadays. Even the "Number Two" joke (which is actually pretty funny!) makes the film an easier target to attack. At the end of the day, was director D.J. Caruso’s screen adaptation really that horrible?

The Mogadorians are alien bounty hunters from a distant planet whose main purpose for existence is to execute the planet’s Nine beings, who each maintain unique and extraordinary powers once they come of age, as they continue to invade and conquer planet after planet. To protect these Nine from being slaughtered, they are hidden away on Earth, each protected by a warrior who acts as a mentor and guardian while keeping the Mogadorians off their tail. Since the Mogadorians must kill the Nine in numerical order, the warriors also do their best to keep them hidden away or blend into society as a normal human being without bringing any unwanted attention their way. This is a double-edged sword because while they are stronger together, they must remain separated in order to be more easily hidden as their powers maximize.

The film opens with the Mogadorians disposing of Number Three, then begin their efforts to identify and dispose of Number Four next. When Number Four (Alex Pettyfer) and his warrior Henri (Timothy Olyphant) learn of Three’s demise, Henri uproots their operation from sunny Florida to quaint Paradise, Ohio, where he has some business to finish. With Four's new identity as John Smith, he enrolls in the local high school so that he can attempt to live a somewhat normal life. There he befriends the local geek Sam (Callan McAuliffe), who believes his father was abducted by extraterrestrials, and falls for beautiful shutterbug Sarah (Dianna Agron). The latter relationship endangers blowing his cover since she used to date the popular local quarterback, who begins to make John’s life hell once he learns she is crushing on the new guy.

Making his new transition into the school even more difficult happens when his super strength and telekinesis-like abilities begin to mature. Henri explains to John that he must learn to harness and perfect these gifts using while keeping his true identity a secret. To do that, he will need to master these abilities if he has any hopes of fending off the Mogadorians. John and Henri are also constantly fighting against the new age of social media, where a recently leaked video exposes John's identity and sends the Mogadorians to Paradise unbeknownst to our heroes. There is also a mysterious blonde (Teresa Palmer) tracking John as well and it is uncertain if she is friend or foe. Once John knows that his pursuers have him cornered, he must decide whether to flee or finally put up a fight since their next planet to overtake is Earth. Not only he does he have a passion for his new home world, but his passion for Dianna has also grown to the point where he cannot stand to be apart from her.

Never once did the love angle feel gag-inducing like Twilight and the overall film was rather gender-neutral. It was also nowhere near some of the horrible films that reached cinemas in 2011. The plot was maybe not the most original, but it was still an interesting sci-fi story contained in a rather intricately developed universe with acting that was more than passable. People cited a confused plot due to the back story being explained in quick exposition from Henri to keep the film moving, but was probably explained in more detail in the book. Sure there were some times where the emphasis was on the love story between John and Dianna, but John learning to use his powers, his relationship with Henri and the Mogadorians tracking him down dominated the running time. Easily the best part of the film is the last 25-30 minutes jammed with non-stop action and a SFX smorgasbord that probably encompassed 75% of the budget. 

Too bad this one won’t spawn a sequel thanks to poor reviews because it seemed to be heading towards an epic film series with the best yet to come. And who doesn’t like looking  at Teresa Palmer? I bet her mirror is happy every day. If you liked this film and want to know what happens after the conclusion’s cliffhanger, go read the book or you will more than likely never get any closure.   

Let this be a lesson to future film makers and production: Never, EEEVVVEEERRR, market your film as the “Twilight for Men”. That is about as a good of an idea as swimming in a lake with piranha. You will be torn apart before you make it in neck-deep. I Am Number Four deserved an extremely better and more accurate marketing strategy than that. 

3.5 out of 5 Creeper Santas



Tom Badguy said...

I always thought that movie looked lame. Good review though.

DTGReviews said...

I liked the movie, it does a reasonable job of adapting the book to the big screen, but they could have done so much more with it. I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

Korsgaard said...

I ripped this film apart in my year in review, but I'm glad you enjoyed it - heck, even I liked Palmer and the beagle. Beyond that? Utter dreck.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

This one just never really interested me. And that is a bad marketing campaign.

Chuck said...

My wife and I watched this movie and I'm with you. I liked it and would even watch it again. Never knew the marketing included "Twilight for men". Agree that was uber-foolish. I would watch a sequel but I also knew there would not be one. This is another example why movie reviews in the negative usually mean little to me. Since I don't watch movies with a critical eye I am free to enjoy them for what they are...entertainment for ME.

Maurice Mitchell said...

Your rating is right. It wasn't HORRIBLE, but it wasn't very good. The special effects were good.

Nigel Mitchell said...

"Twilight for boys." Next movie will be subtitled "Jackass for girls."

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