I Am Number Four – Review

Everyone whom I asked about this mirrored my own thoughts–that it looked just like Jumper or Push, two failed attempts to start movie franchises about cool teenagers with special powers.  Sure enough, those are both really good comparisons for this movie, in the good ways and bad.

As an aside, it usually bugs me when aliens in movies look just like humans.  It doesn’t make any sense that beings from millions of miles away would look identical to us.  At least give them green blood or something.  So that’s a small negative to me.  But there ARE some aliens in this movie who look different than humans–fangs, nose-gills, bald tattooed heads.  They look kind of cool.  But only one of them talks, and his speech is dumbed down.  Which works conceptually–English is obviously not their first language–but doesn’t work well in practice.  They reminded me of the aliens from Battlefield: Earth.  I may sound like I’m complaining about both sides here, and maybe I am.  I’m not sure of the answer.  I’m just saying the aliens bugged me.  Digression over.

The huge problem this movie has in common with Push and Jumper is its need for a sequel that will never exist.  So much back story is created, so many other characters, mythology, and plot lines are started, that they deliberately end the movie without resolving everything.  This is movie making from a purely commercial standpoint and is a death knell for any kind of cohesive vision.  Yes, the main plot is finished, but the last scene is them literally setting out for their next adventure.  It reeks of greed.  “Hey, kids!  Come back for the sequel in 2 years!”  What they don’t realize is that by leaving these questions so blatantly unanswered, you get no sense of satisfaction when the movie is over.  As my friend very astutely put it, it’s like watching a TV pilot.  There could easily be several episodes of this story.  But because it’s a movie, further episodes aren’t forthcoming, so it’s all a waste of time.

What’s good here?  Well, the actors are decent.  The lead character, played by Alex Pettyfer, is a bit of a pretty boy, but he’s ok.  His protector is Timothy Olyphant; always good.  The pieces of the mythology that we do get are interesting.  Spontaneous scars when others die, cool circular numbering system, glowing blue powers…stuff like that.  And my favorite aspect–big alien beasts–think pit bulls from another planet, and 10 times as big.

The final showdown at the high school is very well done.  Cool action, pretty good cinematography–it’s fun, no doubt.  And it does help end the movie on a high note.  But right after that is undeserved redemption of the school bully, and more hints of the next, non-existent chapter.

You get the point.  A tip to all studios–don’t create a movie with the sole purpose of getting a sequel.  Don’t be that arrogant.  Just make a good story, and if it’s a hit, THEN make your sequel.  Even the first Harry Potter movie didn’t have a cliffhanger.  Sheesh.

Ryan S. Davis

I love board games, thrill rides and travel. I'm happy to watch and review all kinds of movies, from mainstream blockbusters to art house indies. As a Warner Bros. employee, I'm privileged with a glimpse of Hollywood many don't see, but my opinions here are my own and not representative of the company.

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