I Am Number Four DVD Review

I am, well, kind of surprised actually.

Having been scarred by Michael Bay productions in the past, never more painfully than with his corporate bastardisation and artistically devoid re-imagining of his lumbering Transformers franchise, I wasn’t hoping for much with I Am Number Four.

But then the opening credits rolled, and I noticed Bay was only down as producer for this film. The hope had suddenly been rekindled. Perhaps this wouldn’t be a wasted two hours of my life after all.

Of course, as any sports fan could share with his fellow man, it’s the hope that kills you. Still, the absence of this precious feeling is immeasurably worse.

After a predictably action heavy opening sequence graphically illustrates the death of Number Three, accompanied with ludicrously clichéd and over the top orchestral music, we are introduced to a square jawed, blonde haired and abdominally blessed adolescent adonis riding on jet ski’s with some friends.

Can you guess who are hero is yet?

This is Number Four, who has had many other human aliases but none of them seem to stick for long. After performing a death defying somersault that impresses some cute blonde on the beach a whole lot more than his x chromosomally challenged compadres, Number Four settles down with his pack and waits for the beach party to begin.

It’s not long before aforementioned cutie wants a little one on one time with our hero, and invites him for a midnight swim.

So far, so good; until Numero Quattro’s leg lights up like a christmas tree, and he sees a murderous vision of the alien formerly known as Number Three.

Number Four knows he’s next, so it’s time to pack up and move on out again with his faithful guardian Henri whose sole duty is to protect his liege.

You see, Nummer Vier is an alien from another galaxy; one of only nine survivors to escape before his home planet of Lorien was destroyed by the Mogadorians.

Please bear with me.

These unfortunately monikered aliens tracked the nine survivors of Lorien to earth and are now slaying them in numerical order because, well, that’s never really explained.

We’re just told that the Mogadorians are parasites who destroy one planet after another; and once they’re through with the last remaining Lorien’s, earth’s destruction is next on their agenda.

Fortunately, as with most extraterrestrials who inhabit earth, Numéro Quatre is also developing some super powers with which he can fight back against the Mogadorians that are hunting him.

I Am Number Four is based on the book of the same name by Pittacus Lore, on obviously made up name that writers James Frey and Jobie Hughes have successfully repatriated as their writing pseudonym.

A film that’s made for teenagers no longer excites me as it once did, probably because I’m no longer one. Combined with the Michael Bay factor and you’ll forgive my understandably low expectations for this film.

Yet I Am Number Four is pretty fun to watch and is served rather well by deciding that less is more.

Admittedly, there are plenty of stereotypical clichés that have become boring staples of teen films. There’s the new kid at school theme, where the “cool” kids pick on the new guy after he spurns their attentions for that of the high school nerd; whom they also bully mercilessly.

The action scenes are a little derivative of the genre, with people twisting and somersaulting all over the place as laser guns level an entire high school; and the cartoonish, one dimensional depiction of good and evil characters is limiting.

But the characterisation of I Am Number Four’s protagonist is understated and relatable, drawing you back into the mindset of what it was like as an adolescent. For this, credit must go to Alex Pettyfer, who plays the eponymous hero with a subtle grace, as well as director D J Caruso; for reining in the hyper exaggerated special effects so many modern films rely on, and remembering that what an audience truly identifies with is a good story.

To my amazement, I Am Number Four is actually pretty far from being number two.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

June 2011