I Am Number Four: A Weak Set-Up To What Could Be A Promising Sequel

18 02 2011

Alex Pettyfer and Dianna Agron make their major big-screen debuts in I Am Number Four, based on the young adult novel by Pittacus Lore (a pen name for James Frey’s “writing factory” worker, Jobie Hughes – more on that interesting tale here). Here’s the breakdown:

“John” (Pettyfer) is a Loric alien, one of nine sent to Earth for their protection, the last of their kind. The evil Mogadorians are slowly killing off the Loriens – they’ve killed Numbers 1 – 3 and John is next on their list. With the help of his guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant), John must do all he can to blend in to the small town of Paradise, Ohio. But when he falls in love with photographer Sarah (Agron), befriends the outcast Sam (Callan McAuliffe), and discovers more and more about his heritage, John finds himself on a life-changing adventure.

The Monkey: The acting was surprisingly good. Pettyfer is sufficiently smoldering and competent as the teenage leading man; Agron proves she has the potential to overcome her Glee roots; and Olyphant brings a much needed maturity with a solid performance as the archetypal selfless guardian. Relative newcomer Callan McAuliffe was an unfortunately underutilized member of the cast; his role as Sam was reminiscent of classic film sidekicks and one can only hope he’ll have a much larger part in any future installments of the series.

The movie’s third act was the most satisfying, bringing together the many story threads in a fiery explosion of action, remarkable effects and witty dialogue. I Am Number Four‘s gangbuster ending bodes well for the obvious sequel, presumably based on the as-yet published The Power of Six. And speaking of six – Teresa Palmer’s character, Number Six, while a late-comer, was much-needed and highly-welcome, giving the ending the necessary kick it needed and making me wish the movie was about her and titled I Am Number Six instead. She’s as bad-ass as they come, kicking, stabbing and shooting all the while delivering biting one-liners in a lilting Australian accent. Thanks to her, I’ll always remember that “Red Bull is for pussies.”

The Weasel: Alas, a decent final act does not a good movie make. The first two-thirds of I Am Number Four plays out like a freakish amalgamation of about every young adult fantasy series you can think of. From the Voldemort-esque baddies to the Twilight-esque (and vomit-inducing) angsty love story, I Am Number Four offers nothing new to the “I’m-an-awkward-teenager-because-I’m-not-human-and-I’m-destined-to-save-the-world-and-be-emo-while-I-do-it” genre. But it wasn’t just that the movie ripped so carelessly from previous material – it was that it did it so poorly. The Mogadorians were supposed to be scary, but came off like laughable buffoons; the love story between John and Sarah was supposed to be the crux of the movie, yet it was so ridiculously unbelievable and forced, I was practically begging for Robert Pattinson’s sparkly skin and Taylor Lautner’s abs. And when actors utter lines like, “She’s more than a girl” and “I think of nothing but you,” you have to wonder how the director kept a straight face behind the camera. It’s a credit to the actors and the special effects crew that this script was turned into an even remotely watchable movie. Writers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar should stick to TV, which they can barely manage anyway.

The last 30 minutes make this movie almost worth sitting through, if for no other reason than to see Teresa Palmer’s Number Six be a total bad-ass. I’m hoping there is a sequel, as long as it uses her and McAuliffe’s Sam to greater effect.

2.5 Death Stars out of 5

What do you think? Have you read the book? Do you think Alex Pettyfer and Dianna Agron have successful film career potential? Are you looking forward to a sequel? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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22 responses

21 02 2011
scarletsp1der

Once again…we both feel the same about this film, and mention similar things. amazing! haha.

Did you know that Olyphant’s character, Henri, was supposed to be played by Sharlto Copley (according to imdb), but he had to step away from the project due to scheduling conflicts? I liked Olyphant for the part!

Nice review! I, as usual, agree with you!

21 02 2011
Dustin

I really liked Olyphant in this movie – I like Copley too, so it would have been interesting to see him in this role as well. Thanks for the info!

6 05 2011
Qwerty

Great movie! it had it all my wife and I really enjoyed this effort and are hoping for a continuation or even better a tv series!

8 05 2011
Dustin

Thanks for the comment! I hadn’t thought about a TV series, but that could totally work!

26 05 2011
aj dennis

we agree with you,. and a TV series. that would be enjoyable also.. maybe even Henri can come back.. love him…

31 05 2011
Dustin

Agreed – Henri was great!

25 05 2011
Vicky

True a tv series would be great. I really liked this movie once the pace of it picked up a little bit. The last 30 mins definitely were the best! I love movies like this and strongly think a sequel would be awesome!

31 05 2011
Dustin

The ending was most definitely the best – so much action! I think I’ll pick this one up on DVD soon 🙂

26 05 2011
aj dennis

My husband and i enjoyed the movie, lots of action.. and why do we need every romance to be intense,,, this was cute and after all he does not want to rush her, he’s an alien…like a lot of men.. ha ha.but he used a great line.. we love once for a lifetime.. wow… something like that….i’m married 46 years same man.. that’s love…

31 05 2011
Dustin

Congrats on 46 years of marriage! That’s quite a testament to love. And I loved that line as well – it means there’s hope for everyone! 🙂

4 06 2011
Andrea

My my…I am always shocked by the negativity when anything is comment worthy. I enjoyed the movie and look forward to the sequel. I knew nothing of the book or the “writer’s factory” when I watched it. As in real life, history tends to repeat itself. I wasn’t bored by the initial set up, since at some point a story needs to be established. I am a patient 35 yr woman that enjoys watching a story unfold and I have seen a bazillion movies unfold similarly through my ancient years. Twilight wasn’t the first my babies and I am Numero Quatro won’t be the last. Cinema is escapism and it should entertain. If I wanted reality, I’d listen to a baby screaming instead (I don’t have children but I can imagine). Enjoy this film for what it is…enjoyable 🙂 Stop taking youselves so seriously…one day life will become serious and then this too will be irrelevant.

6 06 2011
Dustin

Glad you enjoyed the movie, Andrea! That’s why I love movies too – escapism! 🙂

5 06 2011
AJ Isbill

I absolutely loved this movie, start to finish. Yeah, there’s a certain cheezy charm about the love story, but weren’t you ever a teenager in love? You love hard, and if you’re lucky enough to find someone else who loves you back the same…it’s truly magical. The effect were off the chain! My favorite part of the whole film was when Number Six first shows up at the school. The teleporting/martial arts/shoot’ em up fight scene with the Mogadorians was so. Freaking. Cool. And who doesn’t love a beautiful woman who kicks ass? (I know I do! lol) I’d have to raise your death stars to at least 3.5 or even 4. That’s my opinion, though.

Also…a TV series would be fantastic! It’s the right genre, and the story is already set up…search for the others while uncovering mysteries and kicking ass along the way!

6 06 2011
Dustin

I loved when Number Six showed up as well! Wish we would have seen more of her – hopefully in the sequel – thanks for the comment! 🙂

5 06 2011
Lilheat2003

Every review I’ve read has been bad, but every comment on the reviews has been good or great! I don’t understand! Are these critics getting paid to “pimp out” certain movies or what? I wouldnt compare this movie to Twilight at all more like Transformers & in my opinion just as good. I sincerely hope they make a sequal & possibly more! I’m tired if watching movies from books & them only doing the first one! Eragon, The last air bender, The Golden compass, The Vampire’s Asstnt, etc….

6 06 2011
Dustin

I can assure you, I’m not getting paid, lol! I agree about the “only first book of the series” thing – I really wanted to see more Eragon and The Golden Compass too! 🙂

17 10 2011
Mark

SEQUELLLLLLLLLL

28 02 2012
Dustin

Fingers crossed, Mark! 🙂

7 03 2012
Jake

I just read I Am Number Four and The Power of Six, and I have seen the movie. Even though I liked the movie, it could have been so much better if they stuck to the book more. The books were fantastic! I know they have to cut parts out and what not for the time frame of a movie, but it seem to me that they cut out the best parts or switched things all together. Four and Six don’t even have the same powers in the book as they do in the movie. And the fight seen in the high school at the end of the movie was lame in comparison to the one in the book. I hope their is a sequel, or that they just start over from scratch. This series has so much potential, I hope they don’t waste it.

7 03 2012
Dustin

Thanks for the comment, Jake – I’ll have to pick up the books and give them a shot! Isn’t it supposed to be a trilogy?

7 03 2012
Jake

The next book doesn’t come out till later this year. It will be titled The Rise of Nine. I’m not sure if it’s a trilogy or if they will have more after the next installment.

7 03 2012
Dustin

Cool! I saw the first two at Barnes & Noble today – will have to check them out!

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