Review: I AM NUMBER FOUR (2011) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Review: I AM NUMBER FOUR (2011)


One word: bland. That is pretty much sum up for this wannabe sci-fi thriller, I AM NUMBER FOUR, which is heavily positioned as the new TWILIGHT-like franchise mould with TV's Roswell-style undertone. What's more, even with the calibers of screenwriters Alfred Gough and Miles Millar (TV's Smallville), producer Michael Bay and director D.J. Caruso (2007's DISTURBIA, 2008's EAGLE EYE), the movie is shockingly dull and amateurish in all department.

Based on the novel by Pittacus Lore, the movie stars Alex Pettyfer as John Smith, an alien-in-disguise from planet Lorien actually named as Number Four. He has come to Earth to hide from a vicious enemy known as the Mogadorians. He is protected by his father figure Henri (Timothy Olyphant) and they are constantly on the lookout for each other. When a third circular scar appears on John's leg, he figures that he is next on the Mogadorians' hit list. Once Henri finds out about this, he quickly changes his identity and relocates from the Florida coast to Paradise, Ohio. Everything seems to be fine until John is tired of hiding in the house and starts enrolling himself into a new high school. He promises to Henri that he will keep a low profile and will have no problem to blend in with the rest of the crowd. But it doesn't take long before he finds himself into trouble. First, he is making enemy with the arrogant bully named Mark (Jake Abel) when he befriends a UFO geek named Sam (Callan McAuliffe). Then he falls in love with Sarah (Dianna Agron of TV's Glee), a pretty blonde with an obsession in photographing strangers. The problem is, Sarah is used to date Mark and naturally Mark is very jealous of seeing both John and her being together. Just as John starts to find his newfound happiness, he begins to develop superpowers which he has a tough time trying to control them. Not long after, the Mogadorians are closing in to detect the whereabouts of John and it's a matter of time before John eventually reveals his true identity.

The biggest problem of this would-be exciting movie is its lame nature of the story. Majority of the movie is heavily spent on developing cutesy romance between John and Sarah as well John's teen angst that the whole narrative is such an outright chore to sit through. This is especially not working when the actors themselves fail to impress whatsoever. Relative newcomer Alex Pettyfer is heavily touted as the next "it" heartthrob is no doubt photogenic enough. He's hunky and handsome, but like his little-seen 2006's ALEX RIDER: OPERATION STORMBREAKER, his acting is so wooden he's more like a walking tree trunk. This is simply disappointing for Alex Pettyfer, who failed twice in a row to ignite his acting career and ironically, both I AM NUMBER FOUR and ALEX RIDER: OPERATION STORMBREAKER fail miserably to jump-start a potential franchise. Dianna Agron, who make her first major motion picture debut, is all meek-looking and little else that leaves a worthy impression. Not surprisingly, their onscreen chemistry fail to ignite any sense of necessary sparks. Timothy Olyphant is totally wasted here, who delivers a thankless performance as Henri. Only Jake Abel, Callan McAuliffe and especially Teresa Palmer are making at least some worthwhile performances here. Palmer, in particular, is spunky and fun enough to watch for. Too bad her character, in which she plays a kick-ass guardian named Number 6, is sadly underwritten and lack of proper screen time.

D.J. Caruso's direction, in the meantime, is surprisingly pedestrian and it's actually hard to believe he has no sense of pacing to keep the movie flowing into consistent momentum. Perhaps helming sci-fi genre like this is totally out of his league here.

The only saving grace here is the action-packed finale which is set in the high school where a colorful display of special effects-filled smackdown are displayed with full of energy. It's a welcome diversion from all those cliched-ridden and boring romance held earlier in the movie. But then again, the particular finale here doesn't make much of an impression, considering all those substandard computer effects straight out from TV series and incoherent editing style.

I AM NUMBER FOUR is more of an average pilot episode of a TV series destined to be axed in short notice, rather than a full-scale movie. Any chance of launching the rest of the six-part series in the future is certainly bleak here. This is no doubt one of the most disappointed movies of the year.


razman-biosm said...

rating only 1/5..?? serious aarrr..?? i thought this movie is very nice.. (based on my friends that already watched that movie..)

peckinkub99 said...

Well, Razman... I'm surprised myself as well, especially I have quite a high hope for this movie since it's directed by D.J. Caruso (who made EAGLE EYE and DISTURBIA) and produced by Michael Bay.