Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and for language, 105 minutes
Energetic, fun "I Am Number Four" holds few surprises
"I Am Number Four" could essentially be an alien version of "Twilight," after all it's based on a best-selling young adult novel, stars a handsome young British actor and even features a crusty old pickup. "Four" may not have the draw of the teenage werewolf-vampire series, but it's far more energetic and fun to be a part of. Some of it is predictable, cookie-cutter sci-fi fare and it gets rather noisy in the last act, but it's enjoyable escapist fare, something that can't be said for the rather colorless "Twilight" films.
Extraordinary teen John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) is a fugitive on the run from ruthless enemies called Mogadorians sent to destroy him. Changing his identity, moving from town to town with his guardian/father-figure Henri (Timothy Olyphant), John is always the new kid with no ties to his past. In the small Ohio town he now calls home, John encounters unexpected, life-changing events-his first love (Dianna Agron), powerful new abilities and a connection to the others who share his incredible destiny.
"I Am Number Four" is a colorful, modestly entertaining sci-fi film that's mostly geared for the young set. The film is a pleasant sleeper given that the film hasn't been marketed well by the Disney machine (released under its Touchstone label), a troubling sign for a film that could have limited appeal outside of sci-fi fans or fans of the James Frey-Jobie Hughes best-selling novel of the same name. Fans of the book will notice a handful of changes but otherwise this is mostly a faithful adaptation of the novel.
D.J. Caruso, director of the hit action film "Eagle Eye," is a serviceable director though a stronger director with experience in this type of genre, say Chris Columbus, would've done a better job in bringing the novel to life. Caruso can't escape the more predictable elements (teenage love story/angst, ugh) or a downright noisy but fast-paced climax that seems out of place with the rest of the film. Pettyfer, an English model and actor, is a capable lead, and he's well-paired with pretty but bland "Glee" actress Agron. Australian actress Teresa Palmer makes more of an impression as a fellow alien who literally flies in to help save the day.
More so than the "Twilight" films, "I Am Number Four" is modest, escapist fun and while it may lack a lot of big surprises with limited appeal outside the comic-con set, it's worth seeing, along with a decent soundstrack, a few nifty special effects (note: watch for the beagle) and those who enjoy seeing a grayish Timothy Olyphant, star of one of my favorite new shows, "Justified," in small role.
Wes's Grade: B-