About the film
I Am Number Four is a 2011 science fiction film based on the young adult novel of the same name by Jobie Hughes and James Frey. The film was produced by Michael Bay who also did Transformers and it had a budget of between $50 and $60 million. The film has a run time of 114 minutes and is rated 12. The DVD is released on 20th June 2011.
Sent to Earth as a child in order to protect him, an alien from the planet Lorien must constantly move towns and construct new identities to remain safe…and alive. A total of nine Lorien children were sent to Earth in order to protect their special abilities and the legacy that they hold together. Mogadorian commanders (another alien race) are on a mission to hunt down an destroy the nine Lorien children, knowing what they are capable of and have been successful with the first three. This film follows Number Four.
After seeing the death of Number Three, along with his guardian Henri, Number Four needs to move town…again. Paradise, Ohio is their new home and as Henri warns that they must stay undetected, Number Four just wants to live a normal life. Taking on a new identity as John Smith, he heads off to high school against recommendations and his life only gets more complicated. Human friendships and romance could get in the way of his mission on Earth and threaten to destroy everything he and Henri have worked so hard to save.
What I thought
I Am Number Four was a book that caused quite a large amount of hype after its release but it is also one that I still haven’t read. Having not read the book, I had no idea what to expect from the film version. I don’t read reviews of books I haven’t read yet that I want to in order to not ruin anything so I hadn’t even read a review of the book before seeing the film.
For the most part of the film, nothing seems to really happen. A lot of time is spent on getting to know John and how he adapts to a new life each time. While I do think this was necessary, for the audience to like him, it needn’t have been this long. I understand that this is going to be a series/ is a series of books so it looks like this first film was more of a story set up than anything else. The first hour of the film is quite slow paced and I was honestly beginning to get a bit bored by this point. The last 30 minutes or so are by far the best of the whole film. The action was fantastic though. Instead of spending so much time on building up the story, I would have preferred for more action scenes and more excitement throughout. The ending of the film was everything that I had been waiting for but it just wasn’t long enough.
The main problem with the plot was the fact that so much was left unanswered. Due to being a series, certain aspects were left open ready to be explained and explored further at a later date but there was just too many things unanswered. I didn’t really understand why the Mogadorians wanted to destroy the earth or why they had to kill the nine legacies before they could. Looking at their power to blow things up, I’m quite sure the Mogadorians could have just blown the planet up had they wanted to. Also, why do the nine legacies have to be killed in a particular order? Does it have an impact on their abilities or do the lesser numbered legacies have the least amount of powers? I really don’t know and I hope that all of this will be explained during the future films in the series.
Alex Pettyfer seems to be one of the next big things in teen films but I don’t totally get it. I did really enjoy him in Wild Child with his floppy blonde hair and cute smile as he was very charming. Compared to Wild Child, it is clear that Pettyfer has grown up. While he is extremely good looking (I wasn’t complaining about having to look at him) with a fantastic body, Pettyfer’s performance was so-so. Nothing about him amazed me and anyone else could have probably played the role of John/ Number Four to the same ability. His character was quite bland to begin with and this was mainly due to the script but some more effort could have been put in to the performance to at least try to give this character a little something more about him. He didn’t up his game right until the very end and by then, for me, it was too late to impress me.
Dianna Agron, best known for her role as Quinn in the hit show Glee, plays love interest Sarah. Her character was quite interesting and not your average girl character in a film like this. Very much into photography, Sarah stands out compared to other high school girls and this gave her more depth than I was expecting her to have. That being said, she isn’t the best actress and while she does an ok job, she was far from amazing. To be fair to Agron though, her script wasn’t great and she didn’t have too much to go on. Really, she is just there as a love interest for John and to stop the film being all about aliens and the war between them. If/ when she pops up in the other films in the series, I hope that Sarah’s character gets to do a lot more and is more involved in everything that is actually happening, rather than being in the background.
At their best, Pettyfer and Agron were only ok and together, they weren’t any better. There is a serious lack of chemistry between characters John and Sarah. I could understand the attraction from both sides but it wasn’t even close to what it could have been. Teen films have shown that there can be extremely good chemistry and tension between love interests if done properly and although I hate to use it as an example, Twilight is one of the best for this. There was really no excuse for this relationship to have been so plain and boring compared to what was happening around the characters.
One aspect of this film which I really liked was the make-up effects on the Mogadorians. Looking like a mix between crazy aliens and the vampires from 30 Days of Night, I loved their look. Aliens of this variety should have been extremely creepy and quite scary and this is exactly what I thought they were. Each Mogadorian had different strange facial features and I loved that they were all so unique and individual instead of looking like an army of the same thing. I remember one Mogadorian having gills on his face and when trying to pass as a human, having to cover this up. The idea around these villains was fantastic and I loved most things about them.
Coming to the action scenes, the effects were not was great. I could tell that most of this was done with a green screen and actors either doing very little or none of their own stunts. The explosions were large but didn’t fit in very well with everything else that was happening. The effects during action scenes would have been good if they had fit in better with the scenes themselves. Instead, it felt like explosions were going to fix everything and hide flaws that the film had in other areas.
I think I have made this film sound quite terrible because of the mix of cast, effects and plot but I actually quite enjoyed it. Not everything is bad and I think it was a great set up for future films which I will definitely be watching now. Hopefully, now that Pettyfer has a bit more acting experience, his performances will get better over time and more believable. I am also curious as to how close this film stays to the book version which I now want to read.