Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Four Is A Tragic Number

If you stopped by this site yesterday, you read my review of Unknown in which I acknowledged its plot weaknesses only to excuse them because the movie made up for them by being entertaining in other areas. I Am Number Four...isn't.

The movie's plot actually made far more sense than Unknown did. What lost me as a fan early on wasn't the fact that it was trying to rip off Twilight but, rather, its complete and utter lack of imagination. It's about aliens who look exactly like us. so much like us, in fact, that no one thinks it's odd when he falls in love with a human girl. When she finds out, does she say, "Ew, you're not human?" No. Why would she? Other than some super powers, he looks, sounds and acts exactly like we do and yes, I know I just described Superman and Lois Lane but they've had seven decades to get us used to them and besides, the makers of those books/movies describe themselves as superhero stories. Even if the focus is split between action and teen romance, it's still supposed to be science fiction and this doesn't even qualify as trying. Monsters had a fraction of their budget yet created truly alien creatures but all I can do is throw up my hands and say, "All right, how does it do as an action movie?" It will come as no surprise that this part of the movie also lacks imagination and originality.

Alien teen John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) and his guardian Henri (Justified's Timothy Olyphant) play the aliens on the run from the Mogadorians, a rival race that conquered their home planet. There are nine such children and they are being killed in order. I don't remember which one John is. The refugees are children of some sort of elite guardian class and so they gain special powers as they grow older. Mind you, their parents also had these powers and apparently weren't helped one bit by them but these kids are supposed to somehow mature and go back to free their planet which is a hell of a lot of pressure to put on a kid and these kids today enough to handle as it is what with their YouTubes and their Gagas and their crazy music. The Mogadorians easily track these kids down using the internet. They just wait for some sort of power to manifest itself and wind up on someone's website. For some reason, the Mogadorians themselves somehow stay inconspicuous despite having distinct markings and ridges on their faces plus they travel abound with two giant lizards trained to hunt and kill their enemies while the kids, who look just like us, are always winding up on YouTube.

John meets a girl named Sarah (Glee's Diana Agron) and quickly falls for her. Stephanie Meyer must be very annoyed at the way they shamelessly modeled this relationship on Twilight. I know she must hate it because the relationship between John and Sarah isn't the least bit abusive and it doesn't try to send the message that screwing before marriage could lead to your death. Sadly, their relationship isn't even able to reach third date butt sex before the Mogadorians track them down. John is also being tracked by a girl whose identity as one of the other refugees from John's planet was revealed ahead of time by an incompetent marketing department that revealed that in the trailer. Number 6 actually my favorite character and, to my surprise, Australian actress Theresa Palmer was actually allowed to speak in her native accent as opposed to most American movies that try to act like the USA is the world's only country. She's also in the best action scene in which she runs up walls and can vanish. In fact, she's the movie's real hero. Why couldn't the movie have been called I Am Number 6?

I Am Number 4 doesn't work as a romance, action or science fiction movie and those are the three things it tried to be. I can take some comfort that it was edged out at the box office by Unknown, though not by much. I know there were more books in this series though I've yet to hear if they've been greenlighted for production. If they are...well, I guess I can just use this review as a template for that movie so that will be a plus for me at least.

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