We have reached an age in cinema where Hollywood spews sequels to films like a frat dude puking up Freebirds on a Saturday (“Gotta stay cut, bro!”) — look at the “Saw,” “Fockers” and “Big Momma’s House” critically panned-emics.
But we’re not here to discuss these horrible sequels. No, we are here to talk about “I Am Number Four,” and the more-than-likely sequel that is soon to come from it. [Ed. note: “I Am Number Five”?] Did you call it? Well, you probably could have. Director D.J. Caruso’s teen sci-fi flick sets up what could be the first in a long line of “Number Four” films.
“I Am Number Four” stars Alex Pettyfer as John Smith (a.k.a. Number Four), an alien from the planet Lorien, who was sent to Earth with eight other infants to escape death by a foreign alien race on their home planet. John, now a teenager in high school under the protection of his Guardian (Tymothy Olyphant), struggles to deal with his alien powers while the slayers of his planet hunt him and the other “Numbers” down. To make a long, formulaic story short: John (this is a shocker) falls in love with a human girl Sarah (Dianna Agron), fights off the alien race trying to kill him and unites with his brethren to find the rest of the survivors.
It sounds like an amazing story, and with over-the-top explosions and special effects, how could this movie not be great? Now I’m not saying it’s not the freshest, most original alien-saving-the-world plotline I’ve ever heard; it probably is. But I am going to go out on a limb and say “Superman” has been there before. I think “Twilight,” “Transformers” and “The Covenant” actually have too.
Get the picture? “I Am Number Four” is another teen alien/vampire/hero movie we don’t need or want to see. While it adds to the pantheon of similar films, it doesn’t add anything beyond its presence. The acting suits the film’s mediocre premise — nothing to rave about for sure. Alex Pettyfer fills the role of attractive young alien, but any pretty boy could have filled his shoes just fine.
The dialogue between the actors is, again, trite and stale. It seems like the writers just needed to get the audience from explosion to explosion without any thought whatsoever. Sure, the ride is simple enough to handle; I could have fallen asleep and still been able to follow. If I compared this movie to an actual ride, I would say it resembles Dumbo from Disneyland — looks like it’s going to be great fun, but all you end up doing is going up, down and around again. Where are the sharp turns and big drops, damn it?!
I’m fine with “I Am Number Four” not being a great movie, I’m fine with the story being overly familiar and dull and I don’t even care about the somewhat entertaining action scenes; I’ve seen it all before. What bothers me is the ending sets up a sequel. I would have been fine with John Smith defeating his otherworldly enemies and getting his gal, but no, they decided to keep it going. Now he’s on a search for the other “Numbers” and preparing for yet another wave of alien bad guys in what I can only imagine will be an even more epic battle, as technology advances. That sounds like a smashing good time, but I think I’ll pass if “I Am Number Four2” (“I Am Number 16”?) comes out anytime soon.