Film review: I Am Number 4By Kim Francis
February 23, 2011
Having tried – and failed – to turn Alex Pettyfer into the next big thing with Stormbreaker, movie moguls are having another bash five years on.
It comes in the wake of Robert Pattinson’s success as vampire Edward Cullen in the Twilight films and aims to establish the 20-year-old British hunk as the latest tween idol.
I Am Number 4 is based on the best-selling Pittacus Lore novel about teenager John Smith. He’s actually a boy from another planet and is on Earth in an attempt to evade evil foes the Mogadorians, an alien race intent on killing him and the eight others like him.
John moves continually from town to town with guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant) as he tries to stay below the radar. Settling in a small Ohio town, John starts to question his existence while yearning for normality. When he experiences love for the first time, he begins to learn about and harness his remarkable powers.
As the film progresses and he fights to survive, John realises that he must strike a balance between his desires and his destiny.
Positioning itself in the market alongside teen fantasy dramas, science fantasy flick
I Am Number 4 borrows many elements from the films it tries to emulate. This means that much of its content consists of generic, over-serious, intense, soul-searching dialogue and themes like teenage love and feeling like an outsider – all to its detriment.
It isn’t until the film acquires a sense of humour towards the end with the introduction of Number 6 (played by Aussie Teresa Palmer) that it finds its feet and gives itself an identity to separate it from its contemporaries.
Sadly, it’s a case of too little just too blooming late.
Had they injected a little of this tongue-in-cheek tone much sooner, we’d have a fresher film and a ride that’s much more fun for the viewer.
With Pettyfer little more than eye candy for the pre-teen audience, acting plaudits go to Kevin Durand, who steals the show with his turn as the Mogadorian Commander.
Demonstrating that he knows the value of an exaggerated, mannered performance, Durand brings an audience-acknowledging knowing wink to the role.
Leaving the story set up at the end for a series of sequels, it’s highly likely that the studio has a franchise in its sights. Let’s hope that if any of these follow-ups make it to the screen, movie bosses remember that a sense of humour sure goes a long way…