Pretty much any recipe will lead to number two sooner or later, but it takes very special ingredients to produce “I Am Number Four.” Those ingredients are mainly a healthy dose of Twilight, substituting aliens for vampires, complete with otherworldly, hunky hero going to school as he tries to hide his superpowers as he courts a local beauty (Dianna Agron). There’s one thing that Number Four has that Twilightnever did, though: Bernie Kosar references. Kids love those!!!
The titular Number Four, a.k.a. “John” (Alex Pettyfer) is 1 of 9 extraterrestrial tots who survived their species’ extinction at the hands of some mean, bad guy aliens. (I don’t recall the planet’s name, but I’m pretty sure it was not Krypton.) The 9 are hiding on Earth from the evil aliens who are looking to finish what they started. Presumably due to some manner of obsessive compulsive disorder, the bad guys are compelled to knock off the 9 survivors in order. The first three are down, and now Number Four must lay lower than ever.
These aliens have all manner of ways to track the poor guy, so the first thing Four does is . . . dye his hair blonde. That’ll fool ‘em!
Number Four’s protector, Henri (Timothy Olyphant) moves them to a new town, Paradise, Ohio. Well aware they are next on the bad guy’s hit list, Henri refuses to let his charge out of his sight. Well, until the brat whines about being cooped up and Henri lets Number Four go to the local high school. A teenager who wants to go to high school rather than hang out with Timothy Olyphant? Must be an alien!
Number Four promises to keep his head down and not draw any attention to himself. On the first day Four befriends a local UFO enthusiast/nerd named Sam (Callan McAuliffe), falls for a pretty photographer Sarah (Dianna Agron), stands up to the local bullies, and adopts a cute pooch which he names “Bernie Kosar”. Pretty soon Four is having dinner with Sarah’s family, and his photos are splashed all over her web-site. Good job, Quatro!
Like some manner of X-Man who might need to attend some manner of school for gifted youngsters, Four’s mutant special powers begin to manifest at inappropriate times at school. Four has the special ability to have his hands glow and destroy light bulbs, a skill that will really come in handy for movie theater ushering and petty vandalism. (If Four were to join the X-men, surely his codename would be Lite Brite.)
Luckily, when the aliens eventually track down Four (perhaps one of his many tweets was too locationally specific), hottie Number Six(Teresa Palmer) arrives to lend a hand. Then it’s a full-on-war-of-the-worlds with smalltown U.S.A. as the backdrop.
Magically, Four turns from being able to barely handle local bullies to going toe-to-toe with an army of alien soldiers and their pet monsters. The final 20 minutes with the climactic battle are actually quite entertaining, and the preceding hour plus of teen angst tedium with occassional alien intrigue are tolerable.
As far as the Twilight films and the Twilight wannabes go, I Am Number Fourmight just be the best. (Granted, that’s the best of a lot of really crappy films.) Credit a good performance from Timothy Olyphant, the presence of two hot chicks, and a cute dog who helps battle the alien invasion.
Also commendable is the sheer competence of leading hunk Alex Pettyfer as Number Four. Pettyfer doesn’t brood or pout like most his ilk, but actually acts. I’m not going to crown Pettyfer “the next big thing,” but compared to Twilight’s empty vessels of Taylor Lautner and Robert Pattinson, Pettyfer is Matt freakin’ Damon.
I Am Number Four was worth the buck I threw into the RedBox, and I actually might want there to be a sequel. Por que? Because I want to find out who plays Number Seven of the 9 alien refuges.
(Hint: I’m rooting for Jeri Ryan!)
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