Friday, February 18, 2011

FILM REVIEW: I Am Number Four

This action sci-fi thriller is based on Pittacus Lore's novel about teenage aliens who are hunted down and picked off in a specific order by a vicious alien clan known as the Morgadorians. I've never read the novel, but I was intrigued by the idea of alien teenagers with superpowers fighting for their lives. It's like having a bunch of Clark Kents running around. Then I learned that at some point these teenagers decide to stop running and stop being isolated, and fight side-by-side, which made me think of X-Men. Needless to say, I was on board.

British actor Alex Pettyfer has been trying to make it in Hollywood for quite some time. Five years after his first lead role in Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker, he's still the same charismatic and athletic kid as he was before, but now he has a darker edge to him. He seems more complex and interesting, which added to his character John, the dark and tortured outcast who was forced to move every time one of the three aliens that were ranked before him died, and the Morgadorians got closer. Timothy Olyphant ("Justified" and Live Free or Die Hard) played his guardian and provided a few laughs with every frustrated scolding.
Teresa Palmer (Take Me Home Tonight and The Sorcerer's Apprentice) plays Number Six, one of John's alien allies who decides to search for her fellow numbered compatriots after her guardian dies. I'm accustomed to seeing Palmer as the eye candy or the damsel in distress in all of her films, but she was believably badass as this leather-wearing, motorcycle-riding, gun-toting warrior. Granted, that was mostly because of her awesome teleportation power and parkour moves, but she nailed every feisty comeback and for once did more than bat her eyelashes.
Sixteen year old newcomer Callan McAuliffe (Flipped) played the son of a human alien ally who went missing. Due to his size, he was like the town punching bag, even his step-dad treated him like crap. The character was meant to be this dorky little brother slash human ambassador figure to John, but McAuliffe was almost as equally adorable and charismatic as Pettyfer.
This was Dianna Agron's ("Glee") first lead actress role. She had more lines in this film than she's had in all two seasons of her musical FOX series. Who knew she could memorize so many lines and deliver them properly? It may not have been a groundbreaking role and she may not have succeeded in entrancing the audience, but she did manage to pull off popular-girl-turned-artsy-photographer without seeming like a poser. That's really hard to do. Many a pretty blond has tried--and failed. As John's romantic interest, she gave him a reason to fight and finally made him feel comfortable in his own skin.

All in all, the cast was pretty decent and no character annoyed me to the point of never wanting to rewatch the film, but the content wasn't as intriguing as I thought it was going to be. First off, the villains are more gross than scary or formidable. The events that occur in between action scenes are rather boring and non-engaging. The love story is far too rapid, almost Twilight-speed. And by the time it got to the action-packed showdown with surprise alien creatures, jump-out-of-your-seat moments, and kick-ass alien tricks, I just started to think that this was only a prequel to a much more interesting story. I realize that in order to create the inevitable love triangle that will happen between Pettyfer, Aragon, and Palmer, we had to first see how and why he fell for Aragon, and in order for us to understand why he's gone on this journey we had to watch him reach his limit. But I don't think this prequel to the ultimate gathering of the other aliens merited an entire movie. It's not like Harry Potter where it needed to be broken up because of the attention to detail. If anything I think there was plenty of useless filler. They might as well have preceded the end credits with the words "To be continued..." because the good stuff has yet to be shown.

No comments:

Post a Comment