Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review: I Am Number Four

I Am Number Four
Dir. DJ Caruso
Year: 2011
Aus Rating: M
Running Time: 109mins

People say that we are currently in a golden age for television and that is probably true, but for a teenager the golden age was 2000. It was great being a teenager back then – well, sure, it’s never truly “great” to be a teenager in any given year, but to have such rich and insightful television like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Roswell and – mock if you will – Dawson’s Creek reaching the height of their craft in that year was something that the 15-year-old version of me relished.

I mention this because DJ Caruso’s new science fiction action movie I Am Number Four feels like a mash-up of all three, but without the valuable series-long format that would allow it to expand upon its themes in any deep way and it falls short of the mark that all three of those series reached in their prime. What it does succeed at, however, is some fun action and some impressive technical aspects that lift it up above the been there done that nature of its story.

I Am Number Four is, essentially, Roswell meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a definite detour through Nicholas Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause. With added glowing teal cinematography. Alex Pettyfer (or is that “Prettyfer” because, my gawd, is this boy awfully attractive in a bland sort of way that recalls the likes of Jason Behr in Roswell – are his nipples ever not erect?) stars as “John”, a refugee alien living on Earth with his minder, played by Timothy Olyphant in the Anthony Stewart Head role. He falls in love with the pretty-but-vacant girl Sarah (Dianna Agron from Glee, Katie Holmes would have been cast ten years ago) and becomes friends with a small, unpopular kid at school named Sam, played by an Australian kid named Callan McAuliffe. Needless to say, interplanetary monsters are after him and to explain much more would make the word count of this review would go through the stratosphere.

If this were a television series – and from my understanding of the book and its proposed sequels, I think it probably would have – then Sam’s domestic violence subplot would be expanded and not feel like a dramatically neutered afterthought (Roswell’s similar plot line proved to be one of that series’ bigger triumphs) and the central plot wouldn’t feel so rushed. And speaking of television, isn’t it curious that for a show that celebrates “outcasts”, it’s the plain jane blond Dianna Agron that has gotten the first lead role out Glee?

Perhaps if all these pretty people weren’t so, well, pretty, I Am Number Four would feel more exciting – or, perhaps, if “number four” was the geeky Sam rather than the gym bunny John – but fans of this sort of material should come away with a minor appreciation for it. It’s just unlikely to inherit any of the slavish devotion that a television incarnation may have developed. C+

1 comment:

Keith And Lolli said...

I enjoyed reading your review. Although we thought the film was fun, we realise it's nothing special but we couldn't help but feel the story draws on so many references from other popular teen sci-fi films and TV that it lacks anything that feels original. Our full take can be read on our blog