In keeping with the delivery style of I Am Number Four, we’re (well, I am) going to bag the opening tease paragraph and just dive right into what went down in this 110 minute flick. As one will see, this approach can be a good, and possibly bad idea, for both mediums.
John (Alex Pettyfer) – better known as Number 4- is a wanted man. Actually, he’s wanted alien that looks exactly like an 18 year-old high school student. And Ryan Phillippe. He is labeled number 4 due to the fact that 9 special children are the only ones that can save other planets from the evil race that decimated their former world. Right away, the audience will know that he’s not from Earth, and that above mentioned small contingent of evil outer-space warriors – that look like a Nu-Metal band from the late ’90s – wants him destroyed ASAP. John has not fully realized all his powers and therefore has to live under the strict rules via his sworn protector Henri (Timothy Olyphant).
Anytime John’s powers involuntarily come out to play, Henri immediately packs up the place and they move to a new city complete with new identities. This gives John a version of cabin-fever and he begins to casually disregard Henri’s tactics. As they arrive at their latest hideaway city in Ohio, John convinces Henri to let him attend high school, as long as he promises not to draw attention to himself. Well, that plan goes to hell real quick, for he sticks up for the class-nerd in Sam (Callan McAuliffe) and begins seeing the former “it” girl Sarah (Dianna Argon). Which pisses off the Mr. popular football star Mark (Jake Abel).
When Mark either picks on Sam and/or tries to keep Sarah away from John, out of nowhere John’s X-Men like powers take over. Powerful beams of light shine through the palms of his hands, and his physical strength increases ten-fold. Realizing that John’s powers – or legacies as they call them – are growing, Henri fears these public outbursts are also drawing the attention of the Mogadorians, who plan on destroying Earth once they eliminate the remaining numbers. Taking all that into account, Henri prepares John to battle the Mogadorians. But he’s is going to need help from Sam, Sarah, his dog Bernie Kosar and whichever of the 9 legacies are still alive.
As stated above, the stripper-like tease structure commonly found in my reviews is not happening this time around. Like the flick, hopefully getting right to it will provide instant satisfaction (if only that was the case in real-life). I Am Number Four is a misplaced blockbuster. Meaning, this would be a huge and appropriate hit for the summer blockbuster season. There’s action, a substantial story, intelligent writing, decent acting and dazzling special-effects. It begs the question why DreamWorks and Walt Disney Pictures did not position this for a summer release date?
Sure the editing is choppy at times, for one can easily tell a chunk of footage was taken out from scene-to-scene based on the continuity of the characters’ actions. Which then bled into the writing being a tad irresponsible here and there. For instance, the audience never finds out the true origins of John/Number 4 and Henri’s journey. Why are they so human-like? Also, what is the rationale behind the Mogadorians bloodlust? How does Henri know so damn much? Questions such as these will linger, but keep in mind, this is just the first in a series of upcoming books (more on that below).
Yet these are all minor quirks that wash away very quickly. The script remains thoughtful and savvy in working with how a modern society would react to the abnormal actions the lead had to portray. That execution alone will have the audience impressed and wanting to be drawn deeper into this story. In fact, I Am Number Four needs to start producing a Number 2…As in sequel.
People that have ever wanted to wield some kind of superpower, find the right girl and be a part of higher cause will eat this flick right up. In an effort not to give too much away, “John” or “Number 4’s” powers come from his hands. So when he gets these “jazz” hands going, his power is Star Wars force-like. When the final act gets rolling, the display character puts on – along with another hidden digit (Teresa Palmer) – will keep one in awe. Credit this to the way the camera captures the action sequences. A nice balance of wide and tight shots enhance every fight scene. And believe it or not, you’ll actually care about the outcome of all the characters.
Overall, I Am Number Four is a marriage of X-Men and Spider-Man. With a better delivery. Since this is based off a proposed series of books that were just recently published, the ability of being mindful in the way society currently thinks; and improving on the faults of past comic/Sci-Fi themed products; enables I Am Number Four to feel energetic and fresh, despite borrowing angles from its predecessors in the genre.
The summer blockbuster season has come early my friends. Get to the theater and see this!
RATING: 4 out of 5