Though geared towards a young adult audience, the new sci-fi film I Am Number Four entertains with sleek special effects, big scary aliens, and lots of superhero action. The fact that it’s somewhat immature and deals with coming-of-age issues doesn’t dull the thrill of this exciting sci fi film.
Alex Pettyfer stars as Number Four, the last of nine “superhero” aliens from the planet Lorien. When his planet was attacked by the big bad Mogs, he and eight other children were sent to Earth for protection and hiding. The Mogs subsequently destroyed all of Lorien, so Number Four and his compatriots are the last of their very special kind. Each has a “legacy” that appears as they age; a special individualized power in addition to superhuman speed, strength and agility. Each of the Numbers has a guardian warrior from Lorien to watch over them and make sure they aren’t discovered.
Number Four (aka John Smith) is used to moving around. His nomadic lifestyle and hidden identity mean he hasn’t had any real lasting relationships. He respects his warrior protector, but it’s not the family he longs for. What makes matters worse, the Mogs have come to Earth bent on finishing off the last of the Loriens, then destroying Earth itself and all its inhabitants. They’ve killed Number One, Two and Three, and now Number Four is being systematically hunted down.
Meanwhile, a move to the dismal town of Paradise leads John to new friends and typical “teenage” situations that make him long for a normal existence. He meets a pretty classmate (Glee’s Dianna Agron) and falls in love. He also defends a science nerd who ends up holding the key to his survival.
The story is simple and probably wouldn’t bear an in-depth probing, but for what it is it works; a teen romance/sci fi with cool special effects, laser guns, big explosions, lots of eye candy, aliens, characters suddenly changing personalities for no evident reason…it’s all there. Some back story might have been nice, but since this is aimed at a younger audience the shallowness of the story is understandable. Don’t want to give the young’ens of today too much to think about, after all.
With Dreamworks SKG producing, it’s no surprise that the special effects aren’t horrible. John’s special powers include a bluish light that emanates from the palms of his hands, which is done well (this flashlight-beam from the hands could have gone terribly wrong, special effects-wise, if not handled well). Number Six has a few awesome powers that showcase some of the most visually stunning scenes of the film. Given the lack of a complex story and deeper character motivation, the quality of the special effects makes up for some of these weaknesses. The look and sound of the film work, with a young coolness captured in the hip soundtrack and the sleek directing. D.J. Caruso’s deft touch is felt, as the director of Eagle Eye and Disturbia he’s is no stranger to intense thrillers.
Based on a young adult novel by Pittacus Lore, “I Am Number Four” is the first in a proposed series of sci fi books surrounding the “Lorien Legacies.” And as the film has one of those open endings just inviting a sequel or two or three…hello franchise. Mr. Pettyfer (who is really hot right now in Hollywood and I’m not sure why, as he’s really not been in anything), was just passable as an actor but he may be able to lead the series. In the end, what made this movie worth a watch was the effective intensity, special effects and sci-fi elements. I might have enjoyed it more as a hormonal teenager, but I was entertained anyway. Nowadays, that’s saying a lot.
Though geared towards a young adult audience, I Am Number Four entertains with sleek special effects, scary aliens, and superhero action.