I have always heard that imitation is the highest form of flattery. Well I guess that means that I Am Number Four is a film meant to flatter all things science fiction and fantasy, or at least that is the impression. Granted the concept of the story is very interesting and has great potential, the images and story that is given to the audience are less than flattering.
I Am Number Four tells the story of aliens from the planet Lorien who arrive on Earth after their planet is invaded and destroyed by a vicious alien race called the Mogadarians. Four is one of nine alien children sent to earth in the hopes of one day being able to defeat the Mogs after they grow into their powers (which are called Legacies). Each of the nine children were sent with a guardian or Keeper (also known as a Cêpan) who helps protect and eventually aid them as they start to gain their powers. Four, who goes by the name John Smith, has been on the run with Henri (his guardian) for the last ten years. We first meet them in Florida, but after the death of Three they must quickly leave town before they are found out. Henri (Timothy Olyphant) and John (Alex Pettyfer) take to the road and end up in a small town called Paradise Ohio, where Henri claims to have business to take care of.
As Henri is out doing his thing, John starts at his new school with a less than perfect first day. Not only does he have a run in with the prettiest girl on campus, Sarah (Dianna Agron), but he also has to deal with her jealous ex-boyfriend Mark James (Jake Abel), who just happens to be the high school’s star quarterback. As the bullying begins John starts to notice some changes taking place as his first Legacy begins to develop in the middle of class which makes him an even larger target for being labeled as a freak. Tired of being bullied, John fights back and in doing so finds an unlikely friend, Sam (Callen McAuliffe) who is another student that has been bullied for being weird.
As John continues to develop new friendships, his Legacies only cause more problems because he has to keep his life and identity a secret. Eventually the secret comes out and all hell breaks lose when the Mogadarians catch up with John, but not before Six (Teresa Palmer) shows up with a less than desired entrance. After a heavy hitting fight between good and evil, Four and Six team up and hit the road with Sam in search for the remaining Garde (the nine Lorien children) in the hopes that if they come together they will finally be able to defeat the Mogadarians once and for all, ultimately saving Earth from the same fate as their home planet Lorien.
Unfortunately this film does not live up to its potential. With an opening scene that left audience asking if this was going to be another Twilight, and characters that look like pathetic knock-offs of other recognizable sci-fi characters I can’t help but question the longevity of the franchise. If you have never heard of I Am Number Four, you should be aware of the fact that it is a film adaptation to a young adult novel by author Pittacus Lore. Although this is set to be a series, the second book (The Power of Six) is not due out until August. So if you have not read the story the film does little to help you along as it gives you little to no back story and then leaves you scratching your head with confusion so many times that your not sure they ever had a script to shoot with. However if you have read the book I’m sorry to say this but be fair warned the story has pretty much been slaughtered.
With an opening scene that looks as though it was pulled from Twilight’s New Moon and a complete lack of information regarding who any of the characters are, audiences are given little chance to connect with the characters and story. I understand that this is a YA story, but for those audience members who have not read the book they are given very little to go with when trying to understand what is happening. My biggest disappointment is how poorly they represented some of the pivotal scenes in the story. Pittacus laid out so many great scenes that could have been built off of, while instead it seems as though the film adaptation has turned into nothing more than a parody of the story. The one-liners are so bad that they may just leave you laughing, and with the way the film is laid out it is unclear how much time is actually covered. On top of that, several important characters are introduced and then forgotten halfway through the film only to return just before the credits roll. I can’t help but wonder who had the final say on the edit, but for how many holes exist in the story I don’t understand how Disney approved the cut and gave a release before it was truly ready.
I Am Number Four takes over an hour to develop and then ends before it can begin to redeem itself. Granted there is one amazing scene just before the end that almost makes up for all of its faults, if only you can get past the Mogadarians appearance. As I watched the film I could not help but think that the Mogs looked like poor imitations of the Romulans from Star Trek, although they were dressed in “Goth” clothes and 6″ platformed boots and their faces resembled a cross between a fish and the vampires from 30 Days of Night. It was almost a laughable offense to what those characters should have been. Unfortunately there is little else I can say about the film, but if you are able to get through the first hour I promise you will be rewarded with one amazing fight sequence when Six shows up to help John fight the Mogs. I’m sure that the follow-up film will make up for all the mis-haps, if it is given a chance to survive opening weekend.
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Nine infant aliens, who closely resemble humans, flee their home planet, Lorien, to hide on Earth. An invading species, the Mogadorians, have destroyed their planet, and followed them to Earth to hunt them down. Each of the nine aliens is given a guardian and will develop superhuman powers as they become adults. They are each assigned a number. These last children of Lorien can only be killed in the sequence of their numbers. Numbers One, Two, and Three have been killed so far.
Number Four (Alex Pettyfer), also named John Smith, moves to Paradise, Ohio, disguised as an American high school student. He makes a friend, Sarah Hart (Dianna Agron), a sweet Midwestern girl who is a photographer. After being on the run his whole life, Number Four falls in love and now has something to stand up and fight for.