Devina Divecha reviews the newest sci-fi action epic to hit the screen
I am Number Four hits your senses with its opening scene: a dramatic chase in the middle of a jungle by unknown creatures. An action film – stop right there.
I am Number Four is a film based on a young adult novel of the same name (which I haven’t read), and along with action you’re also subjected to teenage angst. The premise is simple, if similar to Superman. When the planet Lorien was annihilated by the vicious race of Mogadorians, only nine children and their guardians survived. Sent to earth to hide and recoup, the children and their guardians live among humans. Now the creepy and sharp-toothed Mogadorians are hunting down the Nine in order along with their guardians. Numbers One to Three have been dealt with (we see Number Three fall), so now we’re privy to the story of Number Four.
Number Four (Alex Pettyfer) blows his cover as a normal teenager, so he is moved to Paradise, Ohio by his guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant). In Ohio, under the name John Smith, he falls in love (the Lorien race fall in love just once in their lifetime apparently), befriends an underdog (clichéd?) and discovers he has powers he was unaware of. He also, following the stereotype normally found in such films, makes enemies with the high school jock, who predictably fancies the girl John is in love with.
The appearance of Number Six (Teresa Palmer) is a breath of fresh air as she literally injects action and adrenaline into the movie upon her arrival. The love interest, Sarah (Dianna Agron), is suitably uninspiring. Sam (Callan McAullife) is a geek who is connected to John’s past and was probably slotted in for comic relief. There is also a lizard, that may be a dog, that might actually be something else altogether.
A few issues – Sarah’s character is naive. She actually sees John’s glowing hands and how he dealt with attackers, but doesn’t realise until much, much later that he has special abilities. The back story of Lorien, why the Nine were sent to Earth and why the Mogadorians are hunting them down is lacking in depth and detail. There also seems to be a discrepancy between the time-laspe after the assassinations of Numbers One, Two and Three, and the fact that Number Four is discovered immediately after the murder of Number Three. The film abounds in college-based sterotypes, but perhaps that is to be expected.
The film is a passable start to a franchise, which should hopefully pick up on the action stakes next time, considering that three protagonists are now on the run. The second book in the series is due out this year, so your guess is as good as mine as to what will happen next.