I Am Number Four (2011) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
26May/110

I Am Number Four (2011)

Andrew DISLIKEI don't like the idea of anyone being labeled an apologist for anything because that implies that there's something to be sorry about.  That said, I've been shoehorned into the position of the Twilight Saga apologist here at CStM.  The books are wretched, but I enjoy the level of melodrama in the movies.  Now, thanks to I Am Number Four, I may have to take up a directly apologist position because this is basically Twilight meets E.T. with a dash of the good ol' Dawson to even things out.

It's all wistful gazes between the male and female leads over pop-songs.  High School showdowns edging away from metaphorical territory and more into inane backdrop.  Fight scenes where everyone is an accomplished acrobat yet can't find a plausible reason to perform back-flip after back-flip and, most inappropriately, the waste of an excellent actor.

The unfortunate bystander in all this is Timothy Olyphant who, for his sake, I well and truly wish his work on the excellent Justified goes noticed by casting directors.  He is Henri, a warrior/caretaker for one of the last surviving members of an alien species called Loriens.  The young charge, who for simplicities sake we'll refer to as Four (Alex Pettyfer), is tired of having to change identities any time they are in fear of being discovered by the evil Mogadorians.

Olyphant is commanding as always, I just hope he gets better movies soon.

The distinction between the two races is a strange one.  The Mogadorians basically look like humans that have gone through somewhat extensive body modification to look like they're 1/10 shark.  Not really scary, to be honest, but the heroic race is even more strangely defined.  Inspired in part by the sparkly vampires of Twilight, the Loriens project light from their hands as their powers begin to grown.  Through puberty.  Which is the only borrowed part of the High School Metaphor handbook that makes sense.

After a very confusing opening sequence where a caretaker and Three are murdered we flash back in time (to intensify the confusion just because) and see Four doing back-flips on jet-skis and being hit on by the hottest bikini clad girl on the beach.  Ok, the growing powers light metaphor loses a little bit of steam here, especially if he's already attractive, powerful and secure.  Usually we're the exact opposite before and during, only afterward feeling the effects of our newfound sexual might.

Anyway, Four gets a new scar with each death of the remaining Lorien survivors.  He and his guardian change faces, go to a new High School where Four falls in love, befriends the geek, and butts heads with the most blatantly cast bullysince the original Karate Kid.  All the while Four's hands keep glowing (yet no one notices), his guardian develops the ability to teleport as a means of avoiding awkward plot decisions, and there are fights to be had where his light hands do things neither explained nor attempted to since both would stretch my already thin patience.

This actor, Jake Abel, is every casting director's High School bully wet-dream. Just look at those teeth and sunken eyes.

This film is a bizarrely flat experience.  There was not a single risk taken in any matter of production.  The bad guys amount to nothing more than space-Nazis looking to hunt down the last flashlight-hand Jews in the galaxy.  The imagery is there, especially in Four's transition from typical pretty-boy to a vaguely Hacidic surf-boy physique.  But beyond that there's nothing but an incredibly drug-out plot centered around a romance where not a single thought of substance is exchanged.

The forces of blue will possibly win out because that's the color of hope (or something).  The only real losers here are the talented people on display.  In truth, no one puts in a bad performance and tries to give the material some kind of weight beyond your typical episode of Power Rangers.  But it's like trying to raise a goldfish in salt-water, it'll only end in death and the tiniest morsel of nutrition to sustain yourself with.

Strangely, I somewhat admire I Am Number Four for following older formulas so rigidly.  It at least save me the trouble of having to write a bunch of troublesome notes in preparation for this review.

I Am Number Four (2011)
Directed by D. J. Caruso.
Screenplay by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar and Marti Noxon.
Based on the book by Jobie Hughes and James Frey.
Starring Alex Pettyfer and Timothy Olyphant.

Posted by Andrew

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