Monday 23 January 2012

Movie Review: I Am Number Four (2011)

A lightweight action movie, I Am Number Four has only the most rudimentary plot elements and satisfies itself with a succession of chaotic fight scenes as a few aliens wage noisy battles in suburbia.

Taking refuge on Earth, John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) is Number Four, one of nine teens with special combat powers rescued from planet Lorien when it was sacked by the invading evil Mogadorians. Smith is protected by his guardian and mentor Henri (Timothy Olyphant), who keeps the two of them on the move to avoid the Mogadorian death squads that have already disposed of Numbers One, Two, and Three.

John and Henri arrive in the town of Paradise, Ohio, where John tries to blend in at the local high school. He befriends the local nerd Sam (Callan McAuliffe), and is immediately attracted to Sarah (Dianna Agron), an amateur photographer. John also has the usual unpleasant encounters with Sarah's former boyfriend Mark (Jake Abel) and his jock friends. It isn't long before the Mogadorians track down John and Henri, resulting in a fight to the death in which some unexpected allies, including Number Six (Teresa Palmer), join forces with John.

Based on the teen-oriented novel of the same name, I Am Number Four tries to reach for a broader audience, but the source material is severely limited. Director D. J. Caruso (Eagle Eye) can do little with humourless characters and a backstory sketched with the thickest of markers. The Mogadorians are pure comic-book level evil designed to intimidate the easily impressed, and the actors all appear out of their depth on the big screen.

The action scenes are a jumble of light, whirling bodies, glowing ancient knives and massive guns that achieve disproportionately minimal damage. The outcome of I Am Number Four is never in doubt, and the only question is how much of Paradise will be lost to wanton destruction before the credits roll.

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