Starring: Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Teresa Palmer, Dianna Agron, Kevin Durand, Callan McAuliffe
Director: D. J. Caruso
Writer(s): Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, Marti Noxon, Pittacus Lore (Novel)
Cinematography: Guillermo Navarro
Original Score: Trevor Rabin
Running Time: 110 Mins.
If Twilight were to be remade as a sci-fi film, much as some members of the press would have us believe, I Am Number Four is not it, for a start it is enjoyable and fun bereft of moping teenagers, angst-riddled romance and is also handled with a touch of flare that makes this accessible to all ages despite the leanings towards a teen target audience. Director D.J. Caruso has followed up two rather lacklustre efforts in Eagle Eye and Disturbia with a film that hints at more than mere “name-on-the-poster” status for executive producers Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg.
The film opens with an ominous zoom from outer space to the jungles of Venezuela where we learn Number Three of a small select group of an alien race has been killed by another alien race, the Megalorians, what the Megalorians must now do is continue destroying each alien in sequence to achieve…well…world domination we can only assume (is that not what all evil alien races seek to do!?!). This is where our story (proper) begins, with Number Four growing tired of being on the run and yearning to settle down and live a quiet life, while his guardian Henri spends most of his time cleaning up all traces of Four in an effort to keep him hidden from the evil baddies, but whaddya’ know, Four (now known as John Smith) falls in love and begins to discover he has limitless powers, while the Megalorians are closing in on their prey…
I can sense you are getting that Twilight vibe from the plot but these staple character types are where the comparisons begin, and end. Alex Pettyfer as Four is hardly actor of the year but he is a whole lot more charismatic than many and carries the angst without making it seem dull or sulky like some whiny teen (Pattinson and Stewart take note), while the two lead women are both as capable balancing a bit of emotional cheese/baggae with a more fun and light-hearted (read: entertaining) tone. The romance is burgeoning and not over-egged and in Teresa Palmer’s Six we have a feisty female lead with charisma and sass to spare, here’s hoping we get the sequel that is so well set up but leaves you gagging for more on every front.
The Spielberg influence is clear from the off, teens with daddy-issues, alien beings, the high school stereotypes played to for all their worth, and this keeps the drama ticking along nicely for the first two-thirds but it is in the final third where the spirit of Michael Bay rears his head that things go up a notch or two. Caruso deftly handles the action that begins in a school and ends up on an American football pitch, theres the sinister alien race, heroes who can conjure all manner of powers X-Men style as well as a couple of neat plot twists/revelations that really add to the fun…add to this some of the better space creatures in recent years and a Chimera no-less and you have the making of what is certainly the years biggest surprise so far.
Though having said this there are flaws and much like Jumper and Push, which I Am Number Four is closer in the movie gene-pool than Twilight, it can at times feel like a set-up for a much larger pay-off though thankfully the finale makes up for this somewhat where those afore-mentioned films didn’t. The other downside comes in the level of lighting in some scenes, darkness can be agreat tool to a film-maker but wielded badly it proves for confusion and a messy direction, this hampers I Am Number Four in an opening sequence that is otherwise very good. It seems churlish to seek fault in something that I was expecting to be tosh and turned out to be great fun, and solidly made…if only I could say that about more films.
Kudos to D.J. Caruso for (hopefully and capably) kicking off a new franchise, one that is more concerned with offering entertainment, not angst. Minor quibbles aside it isn’t often you see the great and greatly under-rated Timothy Olyphant wielding an alien sword, and for that alone I would heartily recommend I Am Number Four.