Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I am Number Four (2011)

     I spent the first hour or so watching I am Number Four (2011) wondering why I didn't just turn it off.  Clearly I was not the target audience, but I thought there would still be some part of the film that could draw me in.  Timothy Olyphant found another role that allowed his occasional woodenness to come across as a strength, and I have convinced myself that I kind of enjoy Olyphant as an actor.  Alex Pettyfer gives a pretty solid performance and he is a good looking guy – fitting into that old motto of the kind of guy other guys want to be and girls want to be with – so he wasn't the problem.  In fact, I thought the whole cast was good enough to keep me paying attention and not nitpicking their work.
     But the story just seemed so immature.  Around the seventy minute mark it occurred to me that this film was akin to a game of Aliens Unlimited (or really just Heroes Unlimited with just the aliens having super powers).  All I had to do was get my mindset to where I was at 13-15 and suddenly the movie made sense to me.  It was less rewarding than playing through it as a roleplaying game would have been for me – and not just because that would have guaranteed more aliens with powers and probably a few more action sequences – but I think there is something to be said for a film that can effectively address a select age group.
     Having been through high school (doesn't that seem like forever ago), a lot of the scenes set in the Ohio high school felt as though it would be how someone in junior high (or his or her freshman year) would imagine high school life.  This is especially true for the love interest for John Doe/Number 4 (Pettyfer), the pretty/artistic/stands-up-to-school-authorities/used-to-date-the-quarterback girl Sarah Hart (Dianna Agron).  I don't want to speak against multidimensional characters, but Hart just seems to be everything rolled into one for the sake of brevity.  Earthly bad guy/quarterback Mark James (Jake Abel) is more in the tradition of Johnny Lawrence from The Karate Kid (1984), an adolescent whose main flaw seems to be having trouble dealing with a high school break-up (and seeing other guys she likes as a threat).
     Eventually, Number Six (Teresa Palmer, who is making her third appearance on the reviews) shows up and we see some needless overproduced action scenes.  I guess this makes a fair amount of sense in regards to the overall story that has the Numbers on the run from the evil aliens, but it really shifts the type of movie to more of an over-the-top experience (I'm betting this is what more people wanted to see in the first place). 
Teresa Palmer as Number Six, fighting a Mog in a high school.
     What really didn't work for me were the extraterrestrial bad guys, a race of aliens called Mogadorians.  Looking very much like a an unholy crossbreeding of the Newcomers from Alien Nation (1988) and the Cromags from Sliders (1995-2000), the Mogs moves slowly and have the same degree of menace one would find in a parked car.  Apparently they are only dangerous to humanity because one needs a special blade to kill them (and then they turn to dust).  Sure, they a cool looking giant alien monster that chases the good aliens, but that all amounts to a whole lot of nothing.
     As an adult, I wouldn't recommend I am Number Four.  As a guy who can still find his inner adolescent, I think their is enough there to entertain to not slam it or tell people to avoid it.  The book is probably better, but I'm not in any hurry to go out and read it.

1 comment:

  1. Staying away, thanks a lot for this great review mate. It also has a book? I'm not sure if the book is good enough to be a book, the story seems, as you kind of said, not at it's best.