I AM NUMBER FOUR. 110 mins. PG-13. Directed by DJ Caruso. Written by Alfred Gough & Miles Millar and Marti Noxon.
For a while there, Hollywood greenlit adaptations of every sub-par Harry Potter knock-off it could get its hands on. Now, with the Twilight Saga in its final stretch and the last film(s) in that series due later this year, Hollywood – ever the original thinker – is trying to tap into the Twilight fanbase with similarly appealing literary properties. For proof, look no further than this Michael Bay-produced, DJ Caruso-directed adaptation of I Am Number Four. In between bouts of fairly well-staged sci-fi action sequences, Number Four is a moody, angst-ridden love story. That bodes well for its audience appeal (boys and girls are equally served), but kind of makes for a jarring film in terms of tone and pacing.
The first hour is promising – Alex Pettyfer plays John, a high school-aged alien trying to blend in on Earth and hide away from a group of outer space Mogadorians who are hell bent on trying to kill him and his nine siblings. John still finds time to fall in love with a human though (Glee’s Dianna Agron, not all that different here than she is on that show). Timothy Olyphant proves a welcome presence as John’s protector. The high school sequences (scored by a trendy indie rock soundtrack – the xx, yes!) are directly reminiscent of those in Twilight. And though this may not be saying much, I Am Number Four kicks Twilight’s butt in the quality department. Give me wayward aliens over pasty vampires any day!
But, like most book adaptations, when the mythology and wordy backstory kick in around the mid-point, the movie drops the ball, failing to make it clear or interesting. Theresa Palmer pops in at the end, in true Terminator 2 fashion, as the bad-ass Number Six, and brings lots of ramped-up action with her. Though I suspect the book is better, I enjoyed most of I Am Number Four. I’d be on board with a sequel, which is clearly hinted at here. The movie would be even better though if I was 12. At that age, I don’t think I would be so preoccupied with the flaws and just accept this as the cool, teen-friendly flick it is.