By: Jamie Lin
The film adaptation of Pittacus Lore’s I Am Number Four begins ominously: a boy, in mere seconds, is seized by frightening aliens and stabbed to death. This dark opening sets the tone for the rest of the movie, letting the audience know that this is no ordinary teen science fiction film. Then again, protagonist Number Four (Alex Pettyfer) is no ordinary teen. He is one of nine Lorien children, aliens who look human but have superhuman abilities.
The children and their Guardians are the last of the kind, the rest destroyed by the ruthless Mogadorians who now seek to destroy them. The children must be killed in order, due to a protective charm, and now with the boy in the beginning, Number Three, dead, the Mogs are after Number Four.
Once he alerts his guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant) to this fact, Four (now alias John Smith) and Henri flee to a new town. Unhappy about this, John sulks around angrily until he meets Sarah (Dianna Agron) and Sam (Callan McAuliffe), the resident outcasts. Determined as he is to keep a low profile so as to avoid detection by the Mogs, John unwittingly earns himself a human enemy in the form of Mark (Jake Abel), Sarah’s ex-boyfriend and Sam’s bully. As the tension between John and Mark increases, the Mogs and a mysterious blonde (Teresa Palmer) come closer to finding John.
Throughout the film, I Am Number Four does well in creating a tense atmosphere while still making Number Four relatable to its ordinary teen market. However, being mythology-heavy, the I Am Number Four film suffers from having to cram too much action in too little time. To combat this, the filmmakers chose to create choppy action sequences that, while impressive, pass by too quickly to be fully appreciated. It doesn’t help that the romance aspect feels rushed, making it hard for the audience to believe John loves Sarah as much as he claims to.
The film does, however, deliver an exciting plot with thrilling action sequences, and the dazzling superhuman abilities and looming threat of death bring a unique and fresh spin to the genre. While the outcast-on-the-run storyline may be nothing new, there are enough twists and turns along the ride to make I Am Number Four as super as the Loriens. While a few major shockers are revealed in some trailers, there are plenty left to entertain and awe the audience.
Another good thing about I Am Number Four is despite revolving around a dark and potentially depressing storyline, it still manages to that necessary dose of humor every now and then, usually provided by the awkwardly adorable Sam. Furthermore, the main characters are strong and easy to sympathize with and root for, and the cast overall is strong and well suited for each of their roles.
Considering that I Am Number Four was being filmed before the book was even published, the cast and crew have to be applauded for keeping mostly true to their source while still bringing it to vibrant life. The film may not have lived up to its full potential, but it is engaging fun and a strong start to an intended six-part franchise.
By: Jamie Lin