Wednesday, 23 February 2011

I Am Number Four 2011

The poster looked boring, but the trailers promised a brainless action thriller, which was good enough to make me buy the ticket when I Am Number Four came out. The offering actually managed to surprise me.

The story goes thus: Alien boy has escaped the destruction of his home planet, Lorien, along with eight others and they have all moved to Earth with their warrior protectors. Number Three is killed in the very beginning by evil aliens called Mogadorians and we are told that it's Number Four's turn next. Number Four keeps moving from city to city to protect his identity and when he moves to Paradise, Ohio, he is called John Smith. Through the course of the film, John discovers some of his special powers, protects the weak from bullies and shows his general awesomeness. He is aided, towards the latter half of the film, by Number Six, who is a hot female, but John's heart can only be given away once and he's already found love with his high school classmate. The film ends with ample substance for a sequel, if this one does well.

In so many different ways, I was reminded of the Twilight saga. I Am Number Four is based on a series of books (like Twilight), has an extraordinary boy fall in love with an ordinary girl (again like Twilight) and fight forces of evil to save humanity in general (need I repeat myself?). And that's where the similarity ends. Unlike the Twilight films, this cast can actually act, the make-up is actually good, the story actually progresses and the audience actually gets to like the characters! Alex Pettyfer (Number Four) is endearing without trying ever so hard to appear cool (as opposed to R-Patts); Dianna Agron (the love interest) does the 'simple girl' routine, but never appears to be a loopy damsel-in-perpetual-distress (think the forever-shrugging-shivering-lip-biting K-Stew); and the protector, played by Timothy Olyphant, is a strong, able character, who speaks well and takes charge, unlike the father figure characters we have seen before (Charlie Swan and Carlisle Cullen). The fact that Marti Noxon (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer series fame) is co-writer and co-producer, may have something to do with the trend of demonic humour and the way the villains look.

Of course, the script is full of loopholes and issues. There are scenes galore that could have been better written (explaining some of the half a dozen artefacts and icons that are introduced randomly, would be a start), but in general, if you're prepared to leave all bits of your brain behind, this is a pleasantly entertaining film. There is lots of action (some of it very good), a cutesy love story and some decent dialogue. Not bad for a film with such a thin premise and such little promise.

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