The Movie: I Am Number Four
The Players: Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Dianna Agron, Teresa Palmer
The Makers: D.J. Caruso (director), Michael Bay, Chris Bender, J.C. Spink, David Valdes (producers), Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, Marti Noxon (writers)
Run time: 114 minutes
John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) is an alien from the planet Lorien, and is one of eight others sent to earth to escape the invading race known as the Mogadorians (or Mogs). Protected by his warrior and guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant), John has to keep a low profile or risk being hunted down and killed by the Mogs, who are searching earth for the eight remaining members of the Lorien race.
This is more difficult than it sounds, though, as John's powers, referred to as "legacies" begin to gather strength before he learns to control them. An increase in body strength, speed, agility and the power to generate light through his hands lands John in trouble early on in the film. He and Henri leave their home in Florida and head to Ohio to start hiding all over again, since the Mogs have picked up their trail and John, number four, is the next target on their hit list
Paradise, Ohio allows them a little more breathing space initially, and John settles into life at the high school, quickly befriending Sam, the son of a missing conspiracy theorist, and falls in love with Sarah, fellow student and amateur photographer. He also makes an enemy out of Mark, a popular jock, who takes an instant dislike to John.
People quickly become suspicious of John and Henri, as John struggles to control his legacies and his temper. But before they can leave town and start over, Henri is captured and murdered by the Mogs, leaving John to fight the Mogs with a mysterious girl who claims to be Number Six from Lorien.
Based on the book I Am Number Four by James Frey and Jobie Hughes, the film has a quick pace with a relatively vague back story. It jumps straight into the here and now of John Smith's existence, and there is little explanation to how and why the Mogs destroyed Lorien and are intent on killing the eight remaining members of the race.
Pettyfer is a perfectly acceptable leading man, but his friendship with Sam remains fairly secondary to his blossoming relationship with Sarah, which is disappointing. One suspects the writers could have delved deeper into Sam's backstory and his father's conspiracies as a way of linking back to the Mogs' reason for hunting down John Smith. The script is fairly formulaic and lacking great dialogue, which I found disappointing after realising Buffy alum Marti Noxon was one of the screenwriters. But teenage audiences will find appeal in the slick action scenes that bring explosions-a-plenty and are reminiscent of Twilight-esque stunts as John and Number Six fight the Mogs.
Intended as the start of a franchise, it will be interesting to see if more attention and investment is paid to the script for any sequels that are made, because the potential to create a blockbuster set of films is definitely there. It just all depends on how much the studio wants to create a teen sci-fi action film with some real punch and a solid backstory versus a teen action film with a bunch of explosions and some pretty people that doesn't offer much susbtance.
In a word: okay